Using the Jesus Prayer

Steps to a simpler Christian Life

John Twisleton

Currently out of print £6.99

Simplicity is what makes John Twistleton's presentation of the Jesus Prayer so attractive. In a 24/7 age that never rests, this is an 'any time, any place' prayer for any person.
The Right Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester


For over 15 centuries repetition of the prayer 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner' has been an effective and practical way to cool the mind of anxiety and stress, enrich the spirit and more generally bring a restoring centring to life.

Thoroughly biblical and used by the Church through the ages, the Jesus Prayer stands as a unique gift and task. It is an invitation that restores strands of our faith which have been broken apart over the centuries, weaving together the devotion of Eastern Orthodoxy, evangelical simplicity, catholic depth and charismatic empowerment.

Drawing on his own faith journey and pastoral experience, John Twisleton describes in this autobiographical work how he was called to welcome the Jesus Prayer as a surprising gift of the Holy Spirit. He shares how use of the prayer brings a gift of simplicity that counters the postmodern fragmentation of Christian life, as individuals and groups seek truth away from what is traditional and institutional teaching.

The simple yet proven discipline of the Jesus Prayer is popular now across the church, in charismatic as well as Eastern Orthodox circles. The book explains how the prayer contains the power of Jesus' name as well as having the capacity to draw us into the faith of his church and to help us value scripture, sacrament, creed and commandments.

The book contains practical advice about saying the Jesus Prayer, how it helps in relating worship to life and in building up the integrity of Christian believers as those indwelled by the merciful love of God found in Jesus Christ.'

'I have written Using the Jesus Prayer to serve spiritual seekers and believers who live under pressure. The book is a guide to using the ancient prayer "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner", showing how its repetition can serve entry into a simpler and more spacious approach to living, including a freedom from anxiety.' John Twisleton


Simplicity is what makes John Twistleton's presentation of the Jesus Prayer so attractive. In a 24/7 age that never rests, this is an 'any time, any place' prayer for any person.
The Right Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Author info

John Twisleton is based in Sussex and the former parish priest of Horsted Keynes in Chichester Diocese, where he also led the diocesan mission and renewal team for eight years. He has also worked as an Area Missioner in London Diocese and as Principal of an ordination training centre in Guyana. He has written on issues including baptism, confession, priesthood, prayer and healing, and he broadcasts regularly on Premier Radio.


From New Directions Magazine Feb 2015

'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner'. These twelve small words have resonated through the centuries and continue today to transform the lives of those who take the words to themselves and let the Jesus Prayer become the silent soundtrack to their lives.

In this semi-autobiographical guide, John Twisleton gently introduces us to the Jesus Prayer, considers briefly the history and impact of the prayer, and gives some preliminary suggestions of how best to use it. But perhaps best of all, he lets us catch glimpses of the effect the Prayer has had on his own life, ministry and discipleship. This is the sense in which the book contains hints of autobiography: not that we are presented with the continuous narrative of a life story, but because we are shown something of the power of the Jesus Prayer to transform lives. So we are offered snapshots of the author at his computer, dealing with difficult emails; at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, joining in the debate; in a crowded shopping centre, praying for those around him; praying the Rosary (which is both similar to the Jesus Prayer in that it makes use of repetition for a deeper purpose, and different in that the Jesus Prayer can become a constant background to life whereas the Rosary is prayed at particular times and usually with particular intentions). Through all of these aspects of life, and many others, the Jesus Prayer shines through as the way in which Fr Twisleton links his life of prayer to life in the wider world. The Jesus Prayer is, he says, both 'a gift on offer and a task invited', and is one way of fulfilling the biblical command to 'pray without ceasing'. It is a bridge between times of prayer and the rest of life, a 'centring on what matters here and now', a 'precis of the Eucharist', and a 'God-given connector and simplifier' between the various strands of Christian life and discipleship. It is also 'a counter to all the base aspirations in me'.

John Twisleton - a regular contributor to these pages - describes himself ending up as 'a strange mixture of catholic, evangelical, Pentecostal and Orthodox'. He is, therefore, a well qualified guide to a prayer which is at one and the same time both immensely simple, and also incredibly deep and profound if used properly. The author himself had known of the prayer for many years, and used it periodically, before receiving it as a gift from God seven years ago and slowly allowing it to transform his life. The breadth of his own experience enables him to explore freely the value and potential uses of the Jesus Prayer, without ever succumbing to the liberal temptation to use it as a substitute for the other aspects of Christian living. The Jesus Prayer is not a quick fix, he insists. It cannot be separated from the corporate life of the Church, most especially the regular celebration of the Sacraments and the preaching of the Word.

In addition to the way in which Fr Twisleton approaches the Jesus Prayer itself, I found much else of value in this book, and most of it stems from the staunch Catholic foundations which undergird the length, breadth, depth and height of his wide experience. There is, for example, his definition of the word 'catholic' itself. It stems from a Greek word meaning 'according to the whole', and so looks to wholeness in the sense of what is believed by the universal Church both today and through the ages. It also stresses inclusivity - but not in the sense that the liberal establishment of the Church of England would have us believe. Here is a wonderful definition of inclusivity, which will stand the Society in good stead as it establishes itself in the new order that is to come: inclusivity means 'the whole gospel held by the whole church to be communicated to the whole world'.

In his introduction, Fr Twisleton also offers a thought which deserves to be inscribed upon the little electronic voting machines wielded by General Synod members, and on the desks of those who sit in offices writing reports about 'managing talent': 'there is nothing new in Christianity, just the need to enter the day-by-day newness of Jesus'. We might say something similar about Using the Jesus Prayer. This is not a volume of new teaching or radical theology. It is a book which seeks to open up the gifts and treasures of an ancient wisdom, and encourage a new generation to make use of them. It is immensely readable and full of goodness. As Bishop Martin Warner says in his introduction of the Jesus Prayer itself: 'In a 24/7 age that never rests, this is an any-time, any-place prayer for any person'.

Janet Backman

This deliberately simple, yet enriching book could also be subtitled, A Prayer for Country Parsons, or A Poem for Busy Homemakers, or even An Oratory for Office Workers.

Written directly out of the author's experience of the frequent use of the Jesus Prayer (both during the day and in formal prayer) the book is littered with engaging snippets of a vicar's life and how, having the common thread of the Jesus Prayer tying them all together, helps to make sense of them. In this way he is constantly reminded of the Gospel truth that Jesus is indeed Lord, Christ, Son of God and Saviour.

It does not set out to be a scholarly book, and so usefully, refers those who want to plunge deeper to writings by others who have been his mentors. It remains though an encouraging book suggesting that, in a world that is over-busy, each of us needs a simple form of prayer that will call us home.

He makes the valid point that the Jesus Prayer in its entirety will not bring help to everyone, and so he suggests that readers may find their own simple form of words more useful. What the author does is demonstrate how, through his own use of the Jesus Prayer, readers may enrich their existing prayer life by having one simple prayer to hold all things together.

Written by a country priest in a busy parish this book will speak to the many (lay and ordained) involved in modern ministry with all the calls that makes on life. It reminds readers that, though the Son of God appreciates us as Martha working in the kitchen of the world, He would also like to welcome Mary listening at His feet.

A good book to read if you feel your prayer life has run dry and you feel the need to come a little closer to the One Who Loves Us Best.

Revd Andrew Dotchin

An inspirational introduction to the Jesus Prayer 'Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner', this book is practical and personal. Here is no dry, theoretical approach to the prayer, but one located in the midst of the vicissitudes and joys of daily life and ministry, fulfilling the injunction 'to pray without ceasing.' Fr John writes as a priest with wide experience of the Church, and this accessible and readable resource will surely prove to be an encouragement to Christians of all traditions.

The author explores different dimensions of the prayer. He sees how it relates to the conversion of our mindset and mentality and relocates 'the mind in the heart.' He shows how it brings worship into the centre of daily life. This prayer leads us to rediscover simplicity and a God-centred focus in our daily living, drawing us towards a Christian life that is not only simpler, but certainly deeper, too.

I worry that the 'me a sinner' at the end of the prayer might re-inforce the individualism and self-preoccupation which plagues western Christianity and our contemporary culture. Fr John goes some way to dispel this fear. Refreshingly he shows how it can be used at the bus stop, supermarket queue and hospital visit, stating this 'form of prayer might ...become a vital instrument keeping you close to God and his heart for the world....Praying the Jesus Prayer is about being caught up with all things, as well as yourself lifting up all things, into God's merciful love.... pulling mind, heart, body, neighbourhood, even cosmos together into prayer.' It would have been good to have read more on the prayer as a tool in intercession and self-offering.

The book is a contemporary appreciation of an ancient resource that points us to the riches of Eastern Orthodoxy where we discover its role in theosis and the divinisation of the world. It opens to the reader a prayer that, in Fr John's words, is both 'a gift on offer and a task invited.'

Andrew D. Mayes, Spirituality Adviser to the Diocese of Chichester.

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841017785
  • Published: 21 November 2014
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 112
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