Bernhard Bürgler SJ
Praying With the Name "Jesus Christ"
Spiritual Impulse

German Version


From: Jesuiten 2006/4, p. 22f

The Easter message is based on two columns: God saved the condemned, ridiculed, tortured and crucified Jesus. At the same time the risen Lord who ascended to heaven is really the Christ for his people, and is close to us - though invisibly - as our helper and protector. Only now he is really the Kyrios, the Lord, about whom can be said: Everyone who call upon the Lord's name is saved (Acts 2.21).

Innumerable humans experienced and experience that the repeatedly steady, attentive, affectionate calling upon the name "Jesus Christ", which is connected with the rhythm of breathing, opens them for his divine reality, so that they experience it more and more and can live from it. Calling upon the name has great power. It saves, heals, changes our life and the life around us in all its different forms.


Old And New

This way of praying - praying with the name - is a very old way of prayer. For centuries it has been practised by women and men, nuns/monks, and laymen - unmarried as well as married. At the same time it is also a new prayer way. By the encounter with other cultures and religions, in which similar ways of praying exist, it has been rediscovered as substantial part of our Christian tradition.

To pray with the name "Jesus Christ" is easy and difficult at the same time - or as I express it sometimes, 'Completely simple but not easy.'

We begin with the mouth. We say - loudly or quietly, internally - the name and turn our attention to it. But the experience is that the name sinks deeper and deeper into us, into our spirit and finally into our heart. Until the name repeats itself as it were in us, until it rings out in us and we simply listen to him (only).

The most important thing however is, according to my opinion, to begin with it. We can be sure that we are guided, that we will always get the necessary assistance, in whatever form.


Suitable for our Express Prayer Time
and for our Everyday Life

This way of praying is suitable for our express prayer time and for our everyday life. Thus prayer and everyday life will be connected. Look for a quiet place, outside in nature, in an (empty) church, at home in your own four walls, sit down comfortably. Then notice your body, feel it. Pay attention to your breathing, how the air is coming and going completely naturally - there is not any need that you do or change something. You are just breathing as you are doing it: with difficulty or easily, hastily or deeply ... Simply watch your breathing. If you get the impression that more and more peace comes into you, then let simply flow the name "Jesus Christ" into your breathing out and in - 'Jesus' while breathing out, 'Christ' while inhaling.



Let work the name, come from all your thoughts, conceptions, pictures ... time and again - patiently but also determined - back to this simple attentive, reverent, affectionate repetition of the name. You will see, the name takes on then gradually the lead, the name imparts its reality, imparts Jesus Christ, his true nature, not our more or less right conceptions of it. The name transfers us to him, the name unites us with his loving presence.

You cannot remain so, quietly sitting all day long somewhere. You have to rise, to go, to talk, to work. But it is also possible in the quite concrete everyday life, in our doings, to remember the name, and to repeat it time and again internally. So too the attachment to him will grow. So too he unfolds his power.

From morning till night there are many opportunities to be with the name: For example, if you are showering, if you are (alone) going somewhere, if you are waiting for the bus: Instead of thinking about anything possible - usually not very important matters -, think of him, call internally upon the name, listen to its internal sound.

If you get involved in this way, do not let yourself discourage at once! Sometimes - in express prayer and everyday life - we get the impression that we are flooded by thoughts and feelings, that we are unable to be and to stay with the name. So it is, so we are. But give not up, always then when you remember to direct your attention anew to the name. So the bond is strengthened to him, to his reality that is also our deeper reality.