When my youngest sister was at a youth event many years ago, she learned about her kinesthetic self. She came home that evening explaining that the group had formed a circle. The leader had instructed them to lunge to the left. So, she lunged to the left and stepped on the toe of the counselor standing next to her. Oops. Then the leader asked them to imagine themselves lunging to the left without actually moving – using what she called their “kinesthetic selves.” So, my sister lunged to the left with her kinesthetic self and promptly stepped on the imaginary toe of her neighbor. We all had a good laugh, but this lesson has stuck with me for many, many years.
My sister may not even remember the event, but I have used her lesson over and over in my prayer life. As I have come to God in prayer over the years I have often imagined myself in some particular posture or position or even moving in a sort of dance before God. Prayer does not always (and for some, may never) mean using words. Sometimes prayer is simply bringing who you are and how you are and where you are to God and just being there.
Miriam Webster online includes the following in the definition of attitude: the arrangement of the parts of a body or figure, a position assumed for a specific purpose , a mental position, a feeling or emotion toward a fact or state. As we look at prayer this week, let us consider the attitudes: the postures, mental positions, and emotions in which we come before God in prayer.
I have collected the angels you see here over several years. At different times in my life, they have represented the ways I have come before God. Yearning for knowledge and understanding as I entered seminary, contemplative as I pondered my relationship with God, victorious and grateful after passing the first round of interviews on the road to ordination. Each of them has a special meaning for me and speaks to an aspect of my relationship with God.
At the same time, this is not a complete representation of the way I or any of us come before God in prayer. There are some angels missing from this collection; angels that probably wouldn’t sell well in gift shops or Christian book stores. There is no angel collapsed to the ground in utter grief, no angel shaking a fist of anger at God. There is no angel wrestling with God like Jacob, or lamenting over a situation as Jesus wept for Jerusalem. There is no angel trembling in fear in a hospital bed or under the hand of violence. There is no weary angel, seeking only to rest. Yet, these too are ways we find ourselves coming to God in prayer.
Wherever you are today, whatever your posture or position or attitude, I invite you to simply come before God – be in the presence of God.