Prayer of the Heart

One of the richest veins of Christian spiritual wisdom flows through what’s known in the Eastern Orthodox tradition as “Prayer of the Heart.” In its simplest form it consists of the repeated invocation of the name of Jesus, tied to a physical concentration of your attention in the region of the heart.

Practicing Prayer of the Heart

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1) First, bring your attention into area of the heart through sensation (not visualization or emotional prompts). See if you can be present to its volume, its aliveness, its subtle movement within your chest. In the classic “Prayer of the Heart” tradition, the heart is not simply a metaphor for some disembodied “center” of your personhood. It is the physical anchor of the divine presence within you.

2) With your attention so anchored, on your in-breath silently “say” the words, “Lord Jesus Christ,” allowing the presence of this living master to fill your entire being.

3) On the out breath, silently “say” the words “Have mercy on me,” remembering that mercy does not mean “pity or a kind of juridical verdict, but is the lifeblood of divine love flowing within you and within the world. It is what compassion feels like when it moves as an energy.


How do you experience this prayer, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually?

If you’ve worked with the prayer before, does that grounded sense of sensation change the feeling of it for you?