“Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
I discovered the Jesus Prayer at a time in my life when I desperately needed something to deepen my life in Christ.
After reading about the various major world religions, I rediscovered Jesus Christ while reading the Revised Standard Bible that my dear Methodist grandmother had given me for the confirmation I did not receive. I had wandered away from Christianity into rock ’n’ roll, but had come back after seeing firsthand that most of the stars who had everything I thought I wanted were really still very empty and unhappy. This led me to the Jesus at the height of the Jesus Movement. Eventually I ended up recording Jesus music with Sparrow Records, a company that has since become the largest Christian recording company in the world.
But I was empty. I had memorized much of the Bible and had becoming a proverbial “Bible thumper,” but I had lost some of the simple Jesus I briefly experienced in the first days of my return to Christ. My Christian life began to bottom out. Then I discovered the early church fathers, or patristics, and began to study them. This led me to the monastic and Franciscan doorway to the orthodox tradition and on to the Catholic faith. But this did not cut me off from my evangelical past. Rather, it enlivened it! Ironically, my Methodist grandmother once told me, “Johnny, now that you are Catholic I think you are better Methodist than ever!”
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John Michael Talbot is founder and Minister General of Brothers and Sisters of Charity at Little Portion Hermitage, a monastic community in Arkansas. He is a popular recording artist with over four million albums sold worldwide. This article is taken from his upcoming book with InterVarsity Press, The Jesus Prayer, available September 2013.