Today’s lovely words come from Dalton Goodier, Senior Admission Counselor in the Office of Admission. Dalton, an active member of the Disciples of Christ community, serves as the face of the Disciples of Christ church for the Office of Admission. His friends tell me that he is a perfect representation of TCU: smart, engaged, and rooted in the Disciples tradition. To learn more about the student Disciples of Christ community on campus, DOC, visit their website.
“We probably need ‘unsaying prayer,’ the prayer of quiet or contemplative prayer, to balance out and ground all ‘saying prayer.’ Many seem to have little experience of prayer of quiet, and tend to actually be afraid of it or even condemn it. They have not been taught what to do with their overactive minds, and so they are afraid of silence. Without an inner life, our outer prayer will soon become superficial and ego-centered.”
– Richard Rohr
When I was younger, I asked a mentor about Paul’s command to “pray without ceasing” (1st Thessalonians 5:17). How can one pray continuously, without ever stopping? That’s when he taught me The Jesus Prayer, a short prayer meant to be recited over and over. Its words are simple: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Despite their simplicity, these words cover the entirety of our relationship with Christ. “Lord Jesus Christ” acknowledges that Jesus is the Christ, our personal lord and savior, while the next line, “have mercy on me”, asks Christ for forgiveness and brings us into union with God. The prayer ends with our own acknowledgement that we are sinners in the hands of a loving God—we are imperfect but made whole in oneness.
When my mentor taught me this prayer, he encouraged me to say it to myself, then to repeat it. And then to repeat it again. And again. And again.
That evening, I took a walk across campus, repeating the prayer in my head. It quickly became a mantra and even when I stopped focusing on the words and went back to studying and answering emails and talking to friends and doing the millions of other things that are always on our minds, the words continued to reverberate in my mind.
I’m a runner, and I’ll often repeat this prayer when I’m running around campus or out on the Trinity River. The words find their own rhythm, echoing with each footfall. Eventually, the words take over and it becomes less of a vocal prayer and more of an attitude and a state of being. When I find myself in this space, I am closer to my creator and their creation.
In the remaining days we have left in this Lenten season, I would encourage you to appreciate the world in all its beauty. Spend time with loved ones. Marvel at the springtime green that’s popping up all over campus. Enjoy a cup of coffee or a favorite TV show. When you do these things and acknowledge the love that made it all possible, then you will truly be praying without ceasing.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.