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Humility and the Jesus Prayer


The pow­er of the Jesus Prayer lies in its expres­sion of humil­i­ty and need. “Have mer­cy” is the cry of the hum­bled heart for the sal­va­tion that only God can give. We can­not save our­selves but we know some­one who can, and this know­ing caus­es us to cry out with all our hearts “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mer­cy on me a sin­ner.” The Desert Fathers and Moth­ers con­sis­tent­ly taught the need for humil­i­ty:

Theodo­ra said that nei­ther asceti­cism, nor vig­ils, nor any kind of suf­fer­ing are able to save. Only true humil­i­ty can do that. There was a her­mit who was able to ban­ish the demons. And he asked them: “What makes you go away? Is it fast­ing?” They replied: “We do not eat or drink.” “Is it vig­ils?” They said: “We do not sleep.” “Then what pow­er sends you away?” They replied: “Noth­ing can over­come us except humil­i­ty alone.” Amma Theodo­ra said: “Do you see how humil­i­ty is vic­to­ri­ous over the demons.”

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