Study Guide: Animate Wrap Up: Is it Just Me?

Sunday May 31, 2009 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

There were a lot of questions generated by our recent Animate series, which explored the role that imagination plays in our spiritual lives. One question that came up frequently was, “Are we just making all this up when we practice imaginative spirituality?”

Extended Summary:

This sermon was part of our Animate adventure series that ran from April 19 to June 14, 2009.

The supplemental content that accompanied the series was designed to be gone through in groups.

You can download the entire booklet here.

As people reflected on the process of using their imagination as a meeting place for God, the following questions arose:

Greg responded by reminding us that nothing in our lives is totally our doing or totally God’s doing. If it’s in our lives, it involves us, if it’s in God’s creation, it involves God and others in creation. I Cor. 12:3 reminds us that no one can confess Jesus as Lord except by the power of the Holy Spirit. And Phil. 2:12-13 says we are to work out our salvation in fear and trembling for it is God who is at work in us to will and to act. From both of these passages we can see that it is always both God and us at work. This is true for our prayer life as well.

Sometimes it may feel as if it’s “all me” trying to be faithful in prayer and at other times it may feel like God is powerfully present and you are just along for the ride. In both situations you are present personally, and obviously, so is God.

Our role in this form of prayer is laid out by passages like 2 Cor. 10:5, Phil. 4:7-8,Rom. 12:2, and Heb. 4:22-24. We are to be intentional about what happens in our hearts and minds in-so-far as we have control over these things. To that

extent, there is a task for us to do.

But, there are also times when it seems clear to us that it is no longer us who are “driving” the process. It is at times like this we experience prayer and communion with God as a gift. We can’t force this to come about, God just moves as God

moves. Sometimes there’s a prompting to take an action we hadn’t thought of, other times it is simply a reassuring presence and a deep sense of peace.

Phil. 2:12-13 captures both the task and the gift aspects of our life with God. Greg closed by saying we shouldn’t “try” to have experiences with God, but rather we just need to yield to God and allow it to happen.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What stood out to you most from this message and the supporting texts?
  2. Greg talked about how the world bombards us with lies and effectively brainwashes us into believing all sorts of harmful things about ourselves, each other, and God. When people wonder if this sort of prayer seems like brainwashing, his response is that our brain needs washing and the Bible commands us to do it! Consider the passages listed in this sermon and discuss what you think of this way of “taking thoughts captive”.
  3. In your own attempts at imaginative prayer, do some of the questions mentioned in the summary above arise for you? What do you think of Greg’s response to these questions?
  4. What about imaginative prayer feels like a task to you? What about it feels like a gift?