Richard Rohr on Praying to Jesus
I begin each day by opening my email and reading Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation. I often copy that meditation and put it with his others so I can re-read them whenever I want. I love absorbing his persuasive prose and deep spiritual insights as do thousands of others each day. Richard has been a voice for many Christians longing for a more expanded, inclusive, and life-giving view of the Christian path.
Anyone familiar with Richard’s talks and writing, is aware of his mind-blowing descriptions of the Cosmic Christ (God-Beyond-Us) and the goal of owning our own divinity that Jesus modeled (God-Being-Us). I greatly appreciated Richard writing the Introduction to my most recent book, Is Your God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough? Jesus and the Three Faces of God. Although Richard has written and spoken much about the centrality of Jesus in the Christian path, I had never read or heard him talk about his own personal relationship with Jesus. And I have often wondered why I had not read any equally detailed and moving writing about the second-person face of God found in Jesus (God-Beside-Us).
In 2015, Ken Wilber’s Integral Life posted, on its massive website (integralife.com), several brief video interviews with well-known Christians answering the question, “What is your relationship to Jesus?” In Richard’s response, I was fascinated to hear about his very intimate, life-giving, and all-together lovely personal relationship to Jesus. I share it in full here:
Interviewer: “Richard, what is your relationship to Jesus?”
Richard Rohr: “My love dedication to the message of Jesus and person of Jesus has without any doubt increased, broadened, and deepened. When I face the questions that life has offered me, that politics has offered me, that the human situation has offered me, I find again and again a core answer in Jesus. And sometimes it is put so simply that you might miss it.
“I can see why Christians and myself, too, would dare to call him the savior of the world. I’m not talking about calling him the founder of a competing religion.
“He is someone that named reality that is truthful, that heals and works, that generates more life, more inclusivity. My relationship with Jesus is, in some ways, more intelligent, but also more sweet and more personal. There is a dearness to how he has communicated the Godself to me that I am more in love with than ever before.
“I said something to my students this week that I don’t think I ever said to a group before. I have been here at the Center for 29 years to teach contemplative prayer and it is still my daily practice to try to free myself to let go of myself, to open the field as a reference point. If I’d be honest with you, and this will probably make some of you lose respect, but I actually pray to God, to Jesus. I say prayers that come from the heart, in a very I-Thou personal give and take way of talking.
“I have to attribute that to Jesus. He brought the transpersonal God, the universal God to an interface experience.
“I don’t think I would begin to have whatever relationship I have with the divine if I did not have this combination of open-ended prayer and very personal prayer that probably to some people would sound naive, too sweet, too personal, too relational, too chummy.
“Of the more healthy Christians I have worked with around the world over the years, I have to say now, that is the unique aspect that they bring to spirituality. It’s a kind of sweet, intimate personalism.
“If they combine that with a life contemplative prayer, I think we have the best of both worlds. It doesn’t become too heady, too abstract, too conceptual. Sometimes I fear my teaching does become too conceptual. When it does not, when it does come home, it is invariably from the personal I-Thou moments that carry it home.”
As you reflect on Richard’s eloquent response, you might ask yourself three questions:
1. Why do you think Richard has been less inclined to share his vital personal daily experience with Jesus with others?
2. How did what he said affect you?
3. What are your feelings about personal, relational prayer with Jesus? Has that ever been difficult for you?
We would, on behalf of all of our readers, be interested to know your responses to these questions and others about Rohr’s elegant reply in our comment section below.