Eastern OrthodoxPoetry

Jesus Prayer


    Lord I say – I can’t say it without your help
    But it isn’t enough to enter into the kingdom
    I say it to my own Petrine cock-crowing shame
    But I have, Lord, Lord, prophesied in your name


    They say you were―that you are―a man like I am
    But the only sin you had you weren’t tempted to
    Instead you had all the sins for which I long
    And you had them on the cross where they belong


    God, you raised Lazarus from the four-days dead
    But I was still-born and lived dead these years
    Just waiting to cry until given life for death
    And to hear the cry that will make me draw breath


    You have prodigally called me, wasting your living
    On a pig who has gone to the dogs beneath the table
    All I ask is that you let me lick clean your wounds
    Fill me with yourself until I have been consumed


    Course sometimes there is an apostrophe, a pause
    To remind us of position, possession, and procession
    And the promise of something missing restored
    To have been given a name is enough of a reward


    There is no wrong way to scream out to you
    Your name may be taken but never called in vain
    Each “Oh my God” says we are yours, you are mine
    Our thirst for you is found in each glass of wine


    I done what I could on my own without you first?
    Have I unplugged and rebooted and refreshed?
    No, or I’d have realized I was without your power
    And―maybe―would have not wasted this needed hour


    Is not strained but pours a stream of blood and water
    A pool to wash not only my eyes, but head and hands
    If only I had someone who would help me down in
    Oh Lord! Come carry me like you carried my sin


    You all this was already laid, on the cross, right now
    And I only feel like I am still carrying it all of it
    Because you are carrying me, and I carry it too
    Instead of letting go of it and holding on to you


    All I have left to lose is what was never actually mine
    And all I stand to gain is what you have already given
    It is all up to me and it all comes down to you
    You have already come down and taken me up too


    Temptation I have is common to all men, even you
    But I am the only sinner without any good excuse
    And since you are the only savior of sinners alone
    I know you will hear and help me when I groan


    That is my entire state. Mercy. That is all I need
    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, my only salvation
    This prayer asks for all I need, hope or want
    Pray, pray, pray again, and repeat until silent
Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy

A Northerner by upbringing, Kenneth has lived in the South since his (first) college days. After returning to college, he began to do more than just dabble with writing, and has self-published a children's picture book, a middle-reader's book, and several collections of poetry. Baptized in the Roman Catholic church, raised in the fundamentalist Baptist church, and having spent time in the Reformed Baptist church, Kenneth settled down in the Eastern Orthodox church in 2006.

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