When I pray in the morning I often lapse into The Jesus Prayer. The link notes the Eastern Orthodox connection and its basic form —
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me, a sinner.
— though it seems actually to come in different shapes and colors, some slightly longer and more formal, and some as minimalist as —
Son of God save me!
This is how it often appears in the Gospel for instance, when there is — literally, as the kids say these days — nothing else the person can do but ask for God Incarnate to step in and for God’s sake, Jesus … do something!
It feels interesting to consider someone addressing God directly with a request, while also invoking God as the reason it can be granted. But it’s the part that feels not interesting but … off … like coleslaw turned, that I want to mention for a minute.
Because I said lapsed into, and not, just for instance, launched into the prayer.
And because we find followers praying it in the Gospels when they have nothing left.
Why do we always wait until the last possible minute to lapse into contact with God?
When I’m praying in the morning, I lapse into it — I do. I’ve momentarily run out of things to say, and I want to keep praying, so I toss a simple cry for mercy out there while I figure out what else is on my mind. I really don’t want to go down the and golly I’m always asking for stuff lament often made over prayer. I trust (literally) we’re supposed to ask for stuff, and I do.
But why not start with this one instead of as filler?
Why not launching into it instead of lapsing into it?
It’s the same reason I don’t do it until there’s nothing else left to do. Deeply, I don’t want contact with the living God. I mean … shoot … of course I do, but it’s there, right? It’s in there. I wait until I’ve got nothing, and lapse into it, because I’ve got my own ideas about how this goes.
More next time.