Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year, New Direction

My blog is changing again.

I've written this post in my head a hundred times, but I can't quite seem to make myself sit down and actually post it, for fear that I'll change my mind about how the blog is changing or that I won't be able to deliver on the proposed changes. You might have noticed I've changed my name to Behold & Reflect. It's a nod to 2 Corinthians 3:18, which talks about how as we continually gaze at Jesus, we become more and more His reflections. This is one of a handful of my "life verses;" like the others, it has stuck with me since high school, but its meaning and application has grown richer and deeper along the way. As my new name suggests, my blog will primarily chronicle my thoughts and experiences beholding Jesus and the reflections that spring from basking in His multi-faceted beauty. Specifically, I plan to explore prayer through personal experience, through interviewing passionate, prayerful souls from across the Christian spectrum, and, of course, by reading lots and lots of books. But while previous iterations of this blog were primarily a repository of book reviews with a little bit of random reflection sprinkled in, Behold & Reflect will prioritize my prayer experiments (exprayeriments!) and journalistic pursuits, with book reviews playing a secondary role.

How can you help me?
Though I've always enjoyed blogging for personal edification, it would be so, so much better if some of my praying friends would follow me and perhaps join in on the prayer exercises I hope to post each week. I'd love to hear your prayer stories. I'd love to learn about new ways to pray. I'd love to connect with people you know who know a thing or two about prayer. I'm interested in gathering stories from other sources and presenting a well-rounded narrative about Christian prayer. Will you join me?

How can I help you?
If prayer doesn't exactly excite you, though you know it's something you should do, don't despair. It might be that you're thinking strictly in terms of prayer as hard work, the petitioning and supplicating, the "saying just the right thing to trick God into doing the thing you want Him to" version of prayer. Petitioning is a Biblical form of prayer, and even Jesus sweat drops of blood while supplicating in the garden, so I can't brush this image off. However, I hope I might broaden your definition, purpose and possibilities of prayer. This blog will explore prayer as any form of connecting with Jesus. And there are many, many forms: using the Bible, the imagination, music, movies, Myers-Briggs, colored pencils, ancient Christian traditions or innovative ideas, yoga, breathing, mindfulness, while working or while resting, in the prayer closet or in the woods, or in the checkout line in the portable sanctuary that is the human spirit.

The artist in me longs to paint word pictures of prayer experiences. The journalist in me wants to know more about prayer: How to sustain a life of prayer—whether through specific practices or through arranging my furniture differently or getting to know other Christians and the ways they pray. And beyond the act of praying, I'm interested to see how time intentionally spent in the company of Jesus affects the way I interact with the world around me—my immediate circle of family and friends, as well as my community, my state, my country, my world.

Credit where credit is due
My idea for a weekly prayer exercise stems from a book I got my hands on a few years ago, 50 Ways to Pray by Teresa Blythe, a spiritual director and expert on the intersection between spirituality and the media. The book, in my humble opinion, is super awesome, and you should buy it. If not, I will be modeling many of my exprayeriments on Blythe's work.

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