The Daily Christian: Prayer of Emphasis

A holy priest friend, now deceased, introduced me to a method of praying that I’ve occasionally utilized. When I had a twenty-six minute walk to church, I found it was a good accompaniment to the journey. There is no specific prayer, but it probably can’t be too long. Unless you are planning to hoof it for many miles.

Here’s the plan …

Take a short prayer. My priest friend often used the Jesus Prayer. He prayed it with these words:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

The method is meditative, a slow repetition of a short phrase. But as each prayer is repeated, emphasize the next word as one repeats. Lord Jesus Christ, Son … is followed by Lord Jesus Christ, Son … then Lord Jesus Christ, Son .,. and so on until one reaches the end … have mercy on me, a sinner.

Take it nice and slow. You will be surprised, my friend suggested, at how the different emphases touch you and if you find yourself moved in a significant way, pause and be silent or offer a brief conversation with Jesus.

What is needed? Just that committed chunk of time, twenty minutes or so. A memorized phrase that has some meaning. The Glory Be prayer has worked for me. Also a thought: a single verse of Scripture, like “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want.” or “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

This kind of prayer is more open-ended and less-structured than most. It might appeal to a person who doesn’t find benefit in rote prayer. Or a person who finds strength in memorized prayers might like to strike out on a new path. With any kind of daily effort, it does take commitment. For me, I have other methods I use for daily prayer. I’m not sure my priest friend used this every day; he didn’t say. But he prayed this method often. And I haven’t seen any other writer or spiritual director write it up in just the way he described it to me.

Keep praying, my friends. However you and God do it.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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