In The Jesus Prayer: A Cry for Mercy, a Path of Renewal, John Michael Talbot examines an ancient prayer for every day: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Talbot explores the roots of the prayer in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, along with the theological and practical meaning of each word of the prayer in the lives of believers today. Talbot opens this devotional study by discussing his spiritual journey, noting that he has spent much fruitful time exploring the mystical tradition, and comments how “in the monastic and Franciscan Catholic and Orthodox streams I discovered the contemplative and mystical traditions of which the Jesus Prayer is a vital expression. This enlivened my faith in a way I had hungered for but had not found very often in my experience. After that, new richness and vast horizons began to open up.”
Talbot has been teaching the Jesus Prayer for a decade in retreats at the Little Portion Retreat Center and at three-day parish missions across the country, and now shares this teaching with readers. He notes that in his experience, “Roman Catholics and Protestants appreciate the practices from the Christian East that balance our largely Western approach to faith.” Talbot structures this text around each word of the prayer, in the hope that “reflecting on the words will bring us into a full understanding of the words of the Jesus Prayer . . . [and] after that we will pray the words with greater intuitive grasp.” Join Talbot on his exploration of this powerful prayer, as he walks through each word of the prayer, pausing to offer analysis, as “when we pray the Prayer we use the faculty of intuition to grasp its realities. But we cannot intuit them if we do not have at least a basic understanding of what the words actually mean.” Ideally suited to personal devotional reading, each chapter concludes with a brief practice using the prayer. The Jesus Prayer offers a fresh look at a rich tradition, full of insights for deepening your faith.
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“The Jesus Prayer is united with the breath in two motions: the in breath and the out breath. Breathing in we say, ‘Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God.’ Breathing out we say, ‘Have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Page 17)
“‘Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Page 17)
“So repetitive prayer is not the problem. Vain repetition is.” (Page 14)
“God became human in Jesus in order to offer himself as a sacrifice of unimaginable divine love for each of us. In order for Jesus to bear another person’s sin he must be a human being ‘without sin’ (Heb 4:15). In order for him to bear more than just one person’s sin he must be God, and infinite in his divine nature.” (Page 41)
“When we let go of all that we are, then Jesus can turn us into someone completely new and use all that we are for God. We will also find ourselves completely fulfilled in the process. We will go from wheat to nourishing and life-giving bread.” (Page 30)
John Michael Talbot is an award-winning musician, writer, motivational speaker and itinerant minister to churches and parishes around the world. Talbot was a founding artist on the Sparrow record label. A member of the Jesus Movement in the early 1970s, Talbot converted to Roman Catholicism in 1978 after immersing himself in the life and teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. He would go on to found an “integrated monastic community” at his Little Portion Hermitage in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and the Brothers and Sisters of Charity continue to this day with Talbot as minister general. Talbot is also the author of numerous books bringing the Christian monastic tradition to contemporary life, including Blessings of St. Benedict.
Dr. Daniel Spielmann