The Day the Jesus Prayer Replaced the Sinner’s Prayer

My biggest fear, the thing I dreaded most was the very real possibility I committed the “blasphemy of the Spirit.”   I had no idea what it was, but it was in the words of mom, “a terrible, horrible sin.” As far as I could tell blasphemy was the exact opposite of the sinner’s prayer.   If someone said the sinner’s prayer and did not mean it, he was doomed to hell.  There was nothing you could do to save your soul.

Blasphemy was an obsessive compulsive’s nightmare.   Have I done this?  Will I do this?  What about that time three years ago when I…?   Instead of washing my hands ten times an hour, I said the sinner’s prayer ten times an hour hoping that one of them might reach the 100% sincerity requirement.  None of them did.

I was doomed.   At least Charles Manson had a chance to say the sinner’s prayer.  Even though I was only 12 years old, my fears and worries increased.  The fact that every preacher had a different definition of blasphemy only made me more worried.  I must have had a bullseye on me. Preachers seem to target the anxiety and depressed section of the church.

I was like the wandering Jew, who taunted Jesus on the way to His crucifixion receiving a curse to wander the earth until the second coming.   Why did I identify with the bad guys in the Bible?   I felt sorry for Cain, who murdered Abel.  I could see myself as Lot, relocating for all the wrong reasons instead of faithful Abraham.    I was Judas instead of the faithful Apostles.

The Eastern Church practiced “The Jesus Prayer.”  It’s even simpler than “Come Lord Jesus Be Our Guest.”  But its infinitely better.  Monks say the prayer under their breath 24×7.   It’s their way of fulfilling Paul’s command to “Pray without Ceasing.”  Come to think of it; it’s their way of identifying with the bad guys of the Bible.    Every time you feel like judging someone—say the prayer,

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

 

 

 

 

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