If only I could have a coffee with Jesus. If I could sit down, in my favourite café, look him in the eye and have an audible, immediate and interactive conversation, I would have the best prayer life ever. Anyone else ever wish for a divine coffee date?
I am an extrovert; by extrovert I don’t mean I’m loud (though I can be). I mean I am focussed on the outward. I think, play, rest and create best in the presence of people. It’s a great attribute for breaking the ice in new social situations (I never really learned the whole stranger-danger thing), however I’ve found my gravitation towards others can make the idea of retreating to pray feel life draining.
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”
I learned that prayer was something you do quietly and alone. This isn’t wrong, but for a chatty and easily distracted teenager, quiet and alone sounded like punishment.
I revised for exams quietly and alone. I was sent to my room to be quiet and alone.
Now go and enjoy the love of God quietly and alone… huh?
Looking back it’s no wonder I sucked at prayer and tried to avoid it (except in emergencies when I really needed Jesus’ help… naturally).
When I walked into my first 24-7 Prayer Room my whole understanding of prayer was flipped on its head. Yes, the room could be quiet. Yes, many people went there to be alone with Jesus. But the room itself was a riot of colour. It was messy, it was creative, it was inspiring and it was interactive. When I ran out of quiet thoughts to think, there was space to paint my feelings, room to move, sing, shout, dance, pace, throw balls whilst interceding, write my sin and stick it in a bin, pray the words of others when I ran out of my own and so much more!
I learned two things in that messy, holy space…
1. There is a person behind the prayer and He was just waiting for me to find my voice (and open my ears)
2. Once I found a way to connect my heart, mind and words to Jesus, quietness and solitude got easier
“Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”
There aren’t really two types of people (introverts or extroverts); there are nearly seven billion types, all unique and all made to know Jesus.
All we need to do is discover our connection point. For me it was in the interaction and inspiration of creative prayer stations. For you it might be a hike through the most beautiful outdoor space you know, or reading something that sets your mind buzzing with questions.
What if we taught each other to pray by really getting to know each other? (This is a very extroverted suggestion but indulge me.) What if we spent time working out what energised us and then focussed that activity (or inactivity) on Jesus?
Try it – let’s be prayer experimenters and see what languages we can discover, what new doorways to Jesus’ presence we can find and share with others.