Posted By Fr. Bill on June 1, 2012
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
The short version works very well, and it’s the one I like; but you can use either one to the same effect. It’s a matter of choice. You may find one works better with your breathing pattern. You may find that the phrase length of one works better with your mind’s rhythm of thought, or with the beating of your heart. There’s quite a few interesting variations, even down to how the words go one at a time with the beating of your heart.
You can get a string of 50 or a 100 beads, or a “prayer rope” to keep count. Some like this.
As you can see here, I use a string of wooden tulasi wood beads about 108 on the string that I got from an Eastern source. Carrying a bag of sacred meditation beads is common practice in some circles of devotional Bhakti. I’ve had these and converted them for use of the Jesus Prayer. You can also see there two small sets of beads which are attached to the bag and these are my counters….one can be used for the hundreds, going back and forth through the string of large beads saying the Jesus Prayer, while every time I pass the center starting bead is a 100 times and I mark it by pulling the bead down. After ten of those, which is 1000, I use the other set of small beads to record how many sets of 1000 I am doing.
Now keeping “count” is not really as important of course as the quality of the prayer and what’s happening in your heart. However, it does help in the earlier stages of using this prayer to keep a general count as you slowly work your way into a deeper and deeper immersion in the prayer, till eventually, God willing, you develop in His grace the gift of actually “praying unceasingly” with the Lord’s Name continuously burning as a flame in the heart.