The Jesus Prayer, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner," has a history dating back to the desert fathers of the early 4th century. Practitioners of a number of Christian traditions have used the prayer, also known as the Prayer of the Heart, as a means of growing in union with God. This review of the Jesus Prayer describes the history of its use among various religious groups, the scriptural rationale for its use, and perceived controversial theological considerations and conflicts for evangelicals. Further addressed are the perceived psychological and spiritual benefits of the practice, as well as barriers to the use of the prayer. We contrast the prayer with Buddhist meditation practices and further discuss the burgeoning empirical support surrounding Christian contemplation and the Jesus Prayer itself. Finally, this review concludes with potential clinical uses of the prayer and future directions for research and psychotherapy.
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