Friday, December 14, 2012

A Jesus Prayer Experience

      Many years have passed since my spiritual father first introduced me to the Jesus Prayer. At the time I remember becoming highly fascinated by it but due to my immaturity I did not make much use of it. Never the less, it left a mark upon me and whenever it came to mind I was reminded about a spiritual tradition that offered real substance. Eventually, circumstances would bring me back to the Prayer but in a more profound way. Today I still find, as it did when spiritual father shared it with me, a deep fascination in the Prayer. Even though I may not struggle in the same way I did when I first heard it I find that it continues to show me that there so much more of God to experience.
     When trying to understand the way Byzantines pray and our theological traditions I must confesses that I have an extreme ignorance. Even though I have an obligation to teach others ,being involved in the spiritual life of my church, it feels like I have very little to offer in terms of knowledge. However, the little knowledge that I feel that I do have speaks to me of great things of God. It is these things of God that I find myself trying to understand better and I find the Jesus Prayer to be the means of greater discovery. The Prayer, for me, speaks of a unique calling that only we can fulfill and an experience of God made only for us. Among whatever knowledge that I do have this is what I wish to help others to see in their use of the prayer.
     When I was active in my theological studies one of my professors told me that I might not be successful because my writing is terrible. I do not doubt his comments because I struggled deeply through my schooling, barley making it. In addition, there was a point after my schooling when I received a real opportunity to seek an academic career but I felt that my weakness made clear to me that it was not my calling. It was a humiliating experience to learn that what I put a great effort into was to some degree in vain. On the other hand, I am grateful for what I have learned and there is no doubt that an education can help a person better understand the mysteries of our faith. Regardless, my point in sharing this is that what I do know about God has pretty much been the same as when I first experienced it even with an education.It may seem simple but all I really know is the Jesus Prayer.
     The simple knowledge of the Jesus Prayer can lead to a real living knowledge about God. For some of us, when it comes to knowledge about God, there are times when our religious books start to say the same things. When this happens we recognize that what we really need to know about God can only come from a an act of God. As I shared I am very ignorant. However, what I do know is that each one of us has a special destiny and it is to this end that God works in us. Some of us may never understand the way our priest or professor does but each of us is invited to experience God in a special way. To this goal the Jesus Prayer continues to offer us a way to experience God. It can, if we let it, show us that there is much more to this life than we realize.
     I am grateful for my spiritual father sharing this prayer with when he did. As far as knowing what I know about it, compared to then, there has not been much change. The prayer is mysterious but its mystery is something a little child could embrace. It's never complex but continues to offer an invitation for us to discover great things about God. No matter where you are at now in this moment the prayer offers unlimited potential for us. I invite you to began to practice this prayer. To learn why there are countless books about it and why it continues to speak to the deepest part of some of us. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner".

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Ric, and I am in whole-hearted agreement! A friend of mine once said that a truly wise man knows that he actually knows little/nothing. I find the more I study theology and the mysteries of our Faith, the more I realize my own ignorance, lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, and overall lack of wisdom. When faced with infinite Mystery the best possible way to understand is not through academic study, but by entering into personal relationship with that Mystery.