Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lord, Teach Us to Pray...With Our Imaginations

Our texts this week--our third week in our series on the Lord's Prayer, where we will focus on the great petition "Your Kingdom Come"--are Luke's version of the Lord's Prayer (Luke 11:1-4) and a collection of sayings of Jesus about the nature of God's Kingdom.  Some of these can be read here.

Jesus was a painter...did you know this?  By this I don't mean that his works are hanging in the Louvre or the Uffizi, or that he worked with oils and canvas and watercolor.  Jesus painted with words that created pictures--with images so vivid they could capture the hearer's imagination and draw it into wonder, speculation, and deeper engagement.  Jesus told parables that left many meanings open for interpretation, used metaphors from every day life, and engaged our senses of sight and sound, taste and touch, justice and indignation--in particular as he taught about the great mysterious reality known as the Kingdom of Heaven (in Matthew, who had a particular reverence for the name of God and often substituted "heaven" for it) or the Kingdom of God (in Mark, Luke, and John).

As we learn to pray "your kingdom come" this week, Jesus seems to have taught us by example that the primary way to do this is with the imagination.  Imaginative prayer is nothing new (read more about its history here) but to those of us who are used to working with the concrete and who put our creative sides out on the curb after childhood to deal with more practical matters.

So here is how I want you to try praying this week:  place the blank canvas of a sheet of paper before you and a pencil, markers, or (best of all!) crayons close at hand.  Or, close your eyes and let the inside of your eyelids be your canvas.  Then, using your imagination, complete this sentence so often uttered by Jesus:  "The  kingdom of God is like..."  If you were to picture something that could be described as congruent with and reflective of God's kingdom, what would it look like?

After you let your imagination run its course (and seriously...let it have free reign!  No passing judgment on what comes to mind!), spend some time praying with this image:  "Your Kingdom Come...Your Kingdom Come..."  What might God be wanting to say to you through this image?  How might it shape the way you live and move and pray in this world?

I highly encourage you to do this in the next few will make our corporate worship experience much richer as we engage this question together!

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