Each Tuesday this fall, you could find me gathered around a delicious meal with some of my favorite people at an Alpha course.
The dinners were great, the videos were interesting and our small-group discussion was fruitful, but my favorite part hands-down was the fourth part of the course--the one not advertised and
in fact, not part of the official program at all, really (but hey, Nicky Gumbel, if you're reading this, maybe this is food for thought? And maybe we could meet IN PERSON to discuss? You let me know.).
It was the ride home, the after-Alpha coffee dates, the phone calls and emails and lunchtime discussions with my long-time friend. We would sit and chat and unpack and repack and muddle through and clean up and do whatever we needed to do in order to engage with the night's discussion, all of which were centered around the basics of Christianity.
She's an Asker of Extraordinary Questions, my friend, and sometimes she'd leave my wheels spinning and other times she'd stop me right in my tracks.
One night, as the rain was pitter-pattering on my windshield, we discussed prayer. That night, at Alpha, we'd discussedGod as our Father and prayer as a means to engage in that relationship.
"So when you pray," my friend began, turning to me, "who do you picture?"
"Hmm...I'm not sure what you mean," I said.
"I mean, who are you praying to? Do you picture God as you would your own father--like curling up on the couch next to him and everything? Or more like a faraway Spirit in the Sky? Or a King on a throne? Or someone else? How do you picture God? Who are you praying to?"
"Well," I said slowly, stalling, racking my brain for an answer to a question that I felt very foolish for not knowing how to begin to respond.
"Well," I said again, "...to tell you the truth, I don't really know who I picture on the other end of my prayers because I guess I just don't really think about it. Which seems kind of ridiculous actually...
"I suppose if I had to give an answer it would be this--yes, I do picture God as a Father. But to me, I would say not as much a super-comfy-hang-out-on-the-couch-in-your-slippers-while-drinking-hot-chocolate-and-having-a-heart-to-heart kind of thing but more like just-moved-to-college-calling-home-when-its-convenient-you-don't-need-to-know-everything-about-everything kind of a deal."
And I know that seems like a pretty basic question and I know that my answer is anything but mind-blowing, but for some reason, that question has been echoing in my head ever since.
So what about you...Who are you praying to?