The Jesus Prayer is based on Paul's admonition to "pray without ceasing" (I Thess. 5:1 7 KJV), "that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day" (II Tim. 1:3 KJV). It is a continuous interior prayer of uninterrupted identification with Jesus Christ, calling upon the divine nature of the Christ with the lips, in the spirit, from the heart. The prayer is said while forming a mental picture of His constant presence, from the mind-set of accepting His grace, during every occupation, at all times, in all places. The concepts of this prayer are derived from the book, The Philokalia, which contains the full and detailed science of constant interior prayer set forth by twenty-five holy Desert Fathers. The story of the profound transformation which took place in the Desert Fathers can be studied in the book, The Way of a Pilgrim, translated by R. M. French. The Desert Fathers believed this prayer to contain the summary of The Gospels.
The words of this prayer are, at first, difficult for the Unity Truth student. They are:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
Understood in their metaphysical context, they can become a powerful tool for transformation. Let us examine them:
"Lord Jesus Christ" — Every mystic understands the power of these words, for they contain the spiritual essence of the consciousness of our enlightened Master, Jesus. Charles Fillmore understood the power contained in the name, Jesus Christ. He said: "Any declaration which man makes in which the name Jesus Christ is used reverently will contact the spiritual ether where the Christ I AM exists and will open the mind and body to the inflow of spiritual healing energy" (Unity Guide to Healing 29).
"Son of God" — These words make declaration of the "only begotten," which is the divine idea of humankind in God-Mind. They contain the spiritual essence and awareness of the image and likeness of God within the individual. They proclaim one's divinity and spiritual inheritance. Charles Fillmore understood these words to mean: "The true spiritual self of every individual. The living Word; the Christ idea in the Mind of God" (RW/Son of God). Speaking these words from the heart identifies one with the divine idea of the indwelling Christ and draws it forth into expression.
"Have mercy on me" — Charles Fillmore understood the true power of "mercy." He said that to desire mercy is to ask for "righteous adjustment," which "results in true overcoming" (RW/Mercy). Declaration of these words draws the consciousness into a deep level of trust and acceptance of Holy Spirit "righteous adjustment" of the mental, emotional, and physical bodies which are not expressing Christ perfection due to some error belief in separation. Mercy in Greek means grace and kindness.
"A sinner" — These are by far the hardest words for Unity students to proclaim, because the idea of being a "sinner," from the concept of being a bad person, is just not a part of Unity's belief system. It has taken many years and many affirmations for the Truth student to overcome the sense of guilt that the idea of being a sinner has projected into memory. Metaphysically, however, the word sin means "missing the mark ... falling short of divine perfection. Sin is man's failure to express the attributes of Being — life, love, intelligence, wisdom, and the other God qualities" (RW/Sin). When we look at it from this perspective, we realize that we sin every day.
The following quotes from Charles Fillmore will prove helpful to the student in understanding the power of these words if said from a mind and heart which has been enlightened about their meaning:
"Sin (error) is first in mind and is redeemed by a mental process, or by going into the silence. Error is brought into the light of Spirit and then transformed into a constructive force ... "Through the Christ Mind, our sins (wrong thinking) are forgiven or pardoned (erased from consciousness). When we have cast all sin (error thought) out of our mind, our body will be so pure that it can not come under any supposed law of death or corruption" (RW/Sin).
Spiritual insight into the mysticism of this prayer makes it a powerful tool for transformation. However, it is recommended that you read the two books mentioned in this section before implementing this prayer.
A suggested alternative to the wording of this prayer has also proven to be a powerful tool for transformation:
"Jesus Christ, Son of God, I AM That!"
This proclaims absolute perfection in Christ and calls this perfection forth through I AM identification. Whatever you identify with, that you become.
"The Holy Spirit is the silent inspiration of the word of Truth. Whoever speaks a word of Truth thereby becomes the chosen vessel of the Lord, the receptacle of power from on high; therefore every word of Truth carries its own power.... The power springs forth as an adjunct of the true Word, just as harmony accompanies and weaves in and through the words of the song of praise" (Heritage Pamphlet File HTS 11).