“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” How many times have I read about the power of this prayer?!.. I remember once rereading the lives of St. Cyprian and St. Justina. There is probably no point in retelling it, since everyone is familiar with it, but let me use an incident that happened to Cyprian before his baptism. It left me speechless.
“Why can’t you do anything with her?” “She speaks the name of the Crucified One”
“The prince of darkness himself has demonstrated the great power of evil spirits and has placed his host at the service of the great sorcerer. The power and intensity of his magic has gone to Cyprian’s head. It seemed that he could do anything on this sinful earth. But the Lord put him to shame when he encountered the fragile girl, Justina, and neither the powers of darkness nor spells could have any effect over her. Having lost his patience, he called upon the prince of darkness himself, but even he was powerless.
“Why? Why can’t you do anything with her?”
“She speaks the name of the Crucified One.”
“So what? Just one name and you feel overpowered?! Along with your whole army?!”
“Yes,” confessed the prince of evil who seemingly had power over all mankind.
The girl prayed silently as she surrendered herself to the Almighty and humbly whispered the words of prayer to the Lord. “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And so, the devastated Cyprian burned all his occult books and fled to a monastery. Subsequently, they both met martyrdom.
Two other incidents dating back to our [in Russia] stormy 1990s surprised me no less than the life of the great magician turned martyr for Christ.
When our country was on the verge of collapse, it was plagued by psychics, magicians, shamans and sorcerers of all kinds. Their hold was so powerful that advertisements about their upcoming appearances were seen at every turn, in every newspaper, and in every club. At the same time, many churches were reopened, but the number of people dying to get a “quick answer” to their problems was ten or a hundred times greater than that. The well-known psychic Kashpirovsky prophesied from the television screens and his shows attracted every family member, young and old, while Chumak [another such personality as Kashpirovsky] was also working hard, positively charging everything and anything around. People were slowly going mad.
I once read about two incidents related by eyewitnesses. In both cases, the priests asked their parishioners to go and help the people understand where they were going, what those psychic seances were, and what the consequences were. Those who were willing to help had to go to the club where the next magician was scheduled to appear, and try to stop those who were flying like moths straight to a flame.
In the first incident, a woman found herself all alone in front of the Palace of Culture; no one else came. What was she supposed to do? What could she do there, all alone? She bought a ticket, sat down in front of the stage, and as soon as the demonic spectacle began, she began to shout accusations urging people to stop. Yes, the show was cancelled. But at what cost! She was summoned to the director’s office, followed by an envenomed psychic. The last thing she remembered was how he stared at her and how an intense pain immediately gripped her head. A month of regular confession and weekly communion helped her to gradually recover her health.
In the second incident, a woman also ended up being alone. No one could come to support her and respond to the church rector’s plea. She wondered what she could do in such a situation? Well, nothing, she decided. She entered the lobby of a movie theater and stayed there. The show was about to start. But then suddenly, breaking the silence inside the auditorium where the audience sat with bated breath, the “homegrown sorcerer” let out a scream.
“Someone’s hindering me!!! Someone is disrupting the séance!!! Find out who it is!!!”
The guards rushed out of the hall. No one was there. Except for the woman, her head covered with a modest headdress: she was humbly praying the Jesus Prayer
The guards stormed out of the auditorium, and having gone over every corner of the lobby, sprinted out into the street. No one was there—except for the quiet woman, a “gray mouse” in a modest headscarf, who was huddled somewhere in the corner humbly praying the Jesus Prayer. Of course, the guards could not hear her. They returned empty-handed and made a helpless gesture in response to continued cries of discontent from the disgruntled sorcerer.
“No one’s out there.”
“That’s not true, someone keeps interrupting me. I’m under bondage, and I can’t continue.”
“But there’s no one out there,” the guards repeated, “except for an old woman sitting in the corner waiting for someone.”
The séance was ruined. For good! The sorcerer angrily stormed off the stage. The crowds rushed disgruntled out of the auditorium. Then there came out that same modestly dressed woman who humbly prayed to God Almighty.
With these two stories in mind, along with the Life of the holy martyrs Cyprian and Justina, I tested the power of this prayer when I found myself in the crosshairs.
My son’s family and I traveled to an Orthodox camp in the Tunka Valley. His wife and young children were also along. We were late, but we had to make it there before dark. We still had a very long way left to go and so my son was driving at full speed. I was in the front passenger seat, and at my feet was a large thermos that always accompanied me when we traveled. I couldn’t quite understand what had happened to it, but suddenly a large stream of boiling water poured out right onto my feet. Next, sparks flew out of my eyes and I immediately felt the urge to scream at the top of my lungs. What could I do?! All the medical supplies were in the trunk of the car, including the first aid kit and anti-burn ointment, as well as the oil from Holy Unction. It was useless to ask my son to stop for a few minutes because we were in a hurry while packing, and we piled up our luggage, including a bunch of baby supplies to be used on vacation. So, it was impossible to find anything quickly. My legs were on fire, so, clinching my teeth, I chanted the Jesus Prayer, since I had nothing else at hand. The pain began to subside.
I came to my senses when I was in the camp. I looked down at my feet – there was not even a hint of a burn there. The skin looked healthy. The pain was gone. It had disappeared so imperceptibly that I didn’t even notice when I stopped feeling the effects of my burn. That was when, as I recall, a thought popped into my head: Wasn’t this what came to the martyrs’ rescue when they went to be tortured and killed?
There was another important point I learned from these stories: the humble recitation of the Jesus Prayer, combined with the confession of one’s weakness, can work a miracle. Justina humbly appealed to the Lord by calling His name. A woman who came to the sorcerer’s séance had admitted her weakness and infirmity and, holding fast to the name of Jesus, put the sorcerer to shame and disrupted his séance. The only one who shamed herself was the Christian woman who trusted in her own strength...