When I asked if he knew the words to the Akathist hymn to the Most Holy Theotokos – since it is common in Greece for many faithful and monastics to have this hymn memorized – Elder Isidoros the Blind of Philotheou monastery on Mt. Athos answered:
“No, I know Kyrie Isou Xriste eleison me (Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me).”
I bowed my head and felt a little ashamed of my question. But impressed by his simplicity and natural humility, I marveled at his childlikeness. He knew the most important prayer – supplication for God’s mercy while prophesying the Divine Incarnation of the Word of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
Learning that prayer well would be sufficient I believe.
“The goal of this all-virtuous work [namely, prayer] is to turn and keep the mind of man on God. For this purpose our Fathers devised easier methods and simplified the prayer, so that the mind might more easily and more firmly turn to and remain in God.
…Primarily for this reason they selected just a few words in a single, simple prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”, so that the mind would not require a great effort in order to hold on to a long, protracted prayer.
…I repeat once again my exhortation to all who love God and their salvation not to put off trying this good labor and practice for the sake of the Grace and mercy which it holds out to as many as will strive a bit at this work. I say this to them for courage, that they don’t hesitate or become fainthearted due to the bit of resistance or weariness which they will encounter. Contemporary elders that we have known had many disciples living in the world, men and women, married and single, who not only arrived at the beginning state but rose to higher levels through the Grace and compassion of our Christ. “It is a trifle in the eyes of the Lord to make a poor man rich.” (Sir. 11:23) I think that in today’s chaos of such turmoil, denial and unbelief there exists no simpler and easier spiritual practice that is feasible for almost all people, with such a multitude of benefit and opportunity for success, than this small prayer.” (Prayer of the Heart for the Faithful Living in the World, written by Elder Joseph of Vatopaidi moanstery, Mt. Athos)