My Three "Favorite" Prayers

Recently, Anne Bender, a friend and fellow blogger, "tagged" me for something called a MEME. I've never heard of it nor have I been able to find out what it stands for. It seems that someone started this blogging "chain" in which someone shares his or her three favorite prayers (apart from the Mass and the Sacraments) and then tags five other bloggers to share theirs. I'm going to do the first, but not the second part of this.

It's a bit difficult for me to do this. There are so many written prayers that I like, and I feel some obligation to include the Morning Offering, which is at the heart of the Apostleship of Prayer's spirituality of offering. Easter A., another blogger, was also tagged and she listed the Daily Offering and included our video presentation of it. So, I'll leave the Morning Offering for another post when I follow up with other favorite prayers of mine.

Here are the three I have chosen.

1. The Jesus Prayer. Tradition has it that the monks of the Egyptian desert took literally St. Paul's admonition to pray unceasingly and came up with a prayer that could be recited while doing other things. The key was to synchronize the words with one's breath and in that way to pray simultaneously with one's mind and one's body. Many books have been written about this simple prayer and there are different versions of it. It is an essential part of monasticism in the Eastern Church. I like it because I can use it wherever I am and no matter what I'm doing. When I'm walking on a golf course, huffing and puffing along, I pray this prayer. If I'm at a meeting and begin to get upset, I silently think of this prayer and recite the words with my breath. If I'm bored, waiting in line somewhere, I pray using this prayer. If I am tempted, I turn to this prayer to distract my attention away from the temptation. Fr. Antony Coniaris, a Greek Orthodox priest, wrote a book entitled "Confronting and Controlling Thoughts According to the Fathers of the Philokalia," in which he encourages people to pray the Jesus Prayer when temptation occurs. When temptation comes knocking at the doors of our minds and our hearts, he says, send Jesus to answer the door by praying the Jesus Prayer. It goes like this:

Lord Jesus Christ,
Son of God,
have mercy on me,
a sinner.

I synchronize each line with a breath and thus pray the prayer in four breaths. This is especially helpful if one is stressed out because it slows down our breathing and helps us to focus on the Lord of our lives. In the future I'll have to write more about the meaning of the words for me.

2. Anima Christi. This prayer appears at the beginning of the "Spiritual Exercises" of St. Ignatius and also in lists of prayers after receiving Holy Communion. Though St. Ignatius did not compose this prayer, he used it frequently. I like to pray it after receiving Holy Communion but I add a phrase to it. Here it is with my addition in italics:

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the Side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
Heart of Christ, inflame me with Your love.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds hide me.
Permit me never to be separated from Thee.
From the wicked foe defend me.
At the hour of my death call me
And bid me come to Thee
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee
For ever and ever. Amen.

3. Act of Love. The author of this prayer is the great Franciscan St. Bonaventure and it too appears in lists of prayers which one can recite after receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord in the Eucharist. For me this prayer shows the kind of love that I want to have for our Lord.

Most loving Lord Jesus, pierce the depths of my soul with the blessed and life-giving wound of Your love, with serenity of spirit and a holy, apostolic charity, that my heart may ever languish and melt with love and longing for You, that it may desire You and yearn for Your heavenly courts, and look forward to being dissolved and living with You.

Grant that my soul may hunger after You, the bread of angels, the refreshment of holy souls, our daily and supersubstantial bread, having all sweetness and savor and every delight of taste.

Let my heart ever hunger after and feed upon You, on Whom the angels wish to look, and may my inmost spirit be filled with Your delight.

May it ever thirst after You, the fountain of life, the fountain of wisdom and knowledge, the fountain of eternal light, the torrent of pleasure, the richness of the house of God.

May it ever aspire after You, seek You, find You, run to You, attain You, meditate on You, speak of You, and do all things to the praise and glory of Your Name, with humility and discretion, with ease and affection, with love and satisfaction, and with perseverance unto the end.

May You alone ever be my hope, my entire assurance, my riches and delight, my pleasure and joy, my rest and tranquility, my sweetness and peace, my fragrance and savor, my food and refreshment, my refuge and help, my wisdom and possession, my portion and treasure, in Whom may my mind and heart be fixed and firm and rooted immovably for all eternity. Amen.