New Jesus Prayer

The origins of the Jesus prayer are lost in the mists of time, or maybe in the Egyptian desert where monastics recited it over and over in contemplation during the early years of Christianity. Here is the prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God
Have mercy on me,
A sinner.

You can say this prayer out loud as you are walking, doing push-ups, or kneading dough (it sets up a nice rhythm). You can say it silently in your heart as you focus on your breaths in and out during meditation. You can say it on prayer beads as you move them through your fingers. It’s short and easy to repeat.

However, the theology of the old prayer rubs some of us the wrong way. The entire focus of the prayer is the sinful nature of the speaker. Jesus’ only task is to have mercy. The speaker’s only identity is sinfulness. The focus on Jesus as Savior is still dominant in many churches, but some of us would rather see Jesus as a model for human perfection, a path to growth and transformation, or one person of a dynamic trinity that creates and maintains the universe.

So what would I suggest as a replacement? Here is my humble offering:

Transform me.

That’s it. Easy to repeat. Instant to learn. Theologically sound, since numerous scriptures assert that God is Love. Psychologically sound, since we know we cannot change others but concede that we can change, as long as we get God’s help. We also concede that we need to change because we are not perfect (sinners, to use the old word). We are humble enough not to try to micro-manage God by telling him HOW to transform us. We leave that to God, asking only for transformation. And the language of the prayer is inclusive, not giving Love any gender or restricting non-Christians from praying it.

What do you think? Might you find a place to use this tiny and powerful prayer? We are enjoined to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and this prayer could run constantly in the background of your daily life pretty easily. If you give it a try and find it useful, let me know at

Thanks for taking time to read!

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