>is this from God?

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>last night was focused on the idea of corporate prayer – what is it, what does it look like, how do we do it, etc. – and it really got me thinking. at the end of the talk and before the post-talk music we had a corporate prayer practice session. i’ll run through my thought process during that time period now.

first i was terrified. we all were. i know this because the first thing said when we split into out group of five was when i said “corporate prayer always comes with a certain level of discomfort and a lack of excitement.” and everyone nodded or said “yeah me too.”

we went into silent prayer – just listening for what God was throwing at us in both word and image form. i was silent for about 30 seconds, but when nothing jumped to me immediately, i found myself trying incredibly hard to have an image to present to the rest of the group in hopes that it would spark an idea from others. in this time i had the following random objects in my brain: a door, a porcupine*, and an umbrella. in that order.

were these images from God? or was it all simply random junk that my conscious had quickly thrown to the forefront of my brain so that i would have something to bring up (both making myself feel more spiritual and killing the discomfort.)

i used to play a game with my roommates called “come up with a spiritual analogy for a random object on the spot.” it was easy, but somewhat discouraging too. i could pull a spiritual analogy out of my rear on a whim – did this mean God was presenting me with these ideas? or was i just being a cynical Christian making light of spiritual ideas? to this day i’m not sure if i know. i think more the latter.
anyway. these silent minutes reminded me of that. i felt like i was putting forth my best effort to think up objects and put a spiritual aura to them.

after a few minutes we began discussing the ideas we had. one individual said they heard God say “reach out.” i tried to match this with my three images. i could make them all three work with it if i wanted. door: some people are here in our midst but feel like they’re outsiders waiting for us to open the door to them. porcupine: sometimes people aren’t easy to reach out to. umbrella: sometimes we’re stuck under a canopy of safety and we’re scared to leave it. can you see why i can get cynical about these things?

i decided to go with the umbrella, and i was excited when another individual latched on to it and actually appeared to be very positively influenced by my spontaneous analogy. she heard it, related it to what she was thinking, and it become meaningful to her life as well as others in the group. does that mean it was definitely spiritual and from God? or did i just do a great job coming up with something spiritual-sounding that just happened to hit home with an individual? at this point, i would say that the umbrella image was from God based on how it furthered conversation and resonated with other ideas around the group.

anyway. i guess i’m mainly looking for feedback here more than anything. here’s a handful of questions i still have:
to what extent do you think those images were from God?
what does corporate prayer look like to you?
what would be a better way to describe a “gift of analogies” than saying it like that?
are games like “come up with a spiritual analogy for a random object on the spot” fruitful or detrimental to faith?

this is where my heart has been today. just continuing to ponder both in my mind and in text form on here. hopefully i’ll blog again with answers and greater truth sometime soon. let me know what you think.

-ap.

* – what do you get when you mix a tortoise and a porcupine? a slow poke.

2 comments

  1. >Good thoughts, Cousin. You asked some questions so here are my thoughts…Sounds like God presents himself in many, many ways. Like you, I have had the same feelings towards “corporate prayer.” Most of the time I chalk it up as a time to wish I were somewhere else. As someone who sat aside those feelings and confronted them with an open mind, it seems as if God used you and those “random” analogies as a way to settle some uneasiness and present His truth in a way that is unique and fresh. When I read some of the parables and teachings of Christ, I can’t help but think about how in-the-moment he was. Taking ordinary examples and situations and making them extraordinary. I think one of our issues as humans is to limit and pass off God’s workings as an escape to safety and sanity. Why not believe that every good insight, thought, or gift is from Him and can be used for Him? To me, understanding that makes life a whole lot more motivating, exciting, and fruitful.Thanks for giving me some thoughts to ponder…Ryan

  2. >maybe God was trying to prove a point that He can use us in spite of ourselves? or in spite of our cynicism?i don’t know. i just thought about that as i was reading

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