Monday, October 26, 2009

new experience with prayer

this was our reading week - a chance to catch up on all that's going to be due in the coming weeks as we round out the first semester. hard to believe i've already been in school 8 weeks!

a book that i finished this week is called Can You Hear Me by Brad Jersak. at first i thought perhaps the professor was using this book as a "what-not-to-do". some of the anecdotes of episodes with this kind of imaginative prayer seemed outlandish and hard to believe. but the more i read and the less ambivalent i became, i realized that what i wanted was exactly what he was talking about - a way to experience God new in prayer - a way to focus and be captured by him through prayer.

the premise of the book is to use our imaginations in order to visualize various ways to listen through prayer. the entire book is all about listening and hearing God's voice. at the back of the book there is a cheat sheet of sorts as to what questions to ask God, so after completing the book i tried one exercise. this is how it happened and what i gained from the experience.

the first idea is to go to a "meeting place" in your mind where you regularly visit with God. this could be a biblical location (like by a stream as in Psalm 23) or just a familiar place where you would like to be with God. my "meeting place" has been the same for a while - i imagine Jesus sitting in the heavens on lots of clouds on a giant throne. i picture him wearing a very comfortable robe (down, perhaps? it's my favorite) and i have a special place reserved for me on his lap. so, that's where i went. there were two questions i was supposed to ask him there and listen for the answers.

the first question was, "Jesus, how do you see me?" i heard a simple answer, like when a kid is playing hide-and-seek, "I see you."

the second question wasn't as easy. the question was, "How do you feel about me?"

i couldn't bring my face to look into his eyes. i was so afraid of what he would or wouldn't say. i had lots of fears. three in particular. one - i was afraid that there would be a "but" at the end of what he said - like, "i feel like you're a lovely woman, but..." with something that i need to work on. the second fear was that i wouldn't believe him. i was afraid that he would have some trite answer that i could see right through - you know the kind, like, "ahhhh - you're great!" hardly believable. then the third was the hardest for me to get over. i was afraid that i'd be disappointed in his answer - that he couldn't come up with something good enough for me to walk away happy that i had chosen to listen - that somehow, it wouldn't be "enough" for me.

i wrestled in tears with this last question for a long time. i couldn't look at his face - i was so afraid of his answer. then, almost as an interruption into my fear, i heard him say, "I want you." and that's how he felt about me. i couldn't argue it. there was no "but". i believed him completely. and it didn't leave me disappointed. he had the perfect way out of all my fears. he wants me! he really wants me!

it was a powerful moment and a beautiful voice in my ears. i'm so glad i kept on with a book that i thought was too over the top. i'm so glad i dared practice what the author encouraged. i'm so glad God penetrated through my loud fears with a simple, heart-felt truth. i'm so glad that for once in a long time, i listened to him speak.


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