The lava lamp of prayer

July 24, 2007


After Wikipedia’s entry, is the number one Google result for the term “emerging church.” I’ve had this site around in my bookmarks and as a fairly common visit for several years, and it’s an amazing resource, but it had been a while since I visited it. Now, they have a prayer lava lamp. This is a nice Flash application that lets users type in prayers, and watch them float around as blobs inside the lava lamp. They’re not stored anywhere, so they remain private. The application, then, is a visual aid to private prayer. It can sit in a tiny window of one’s web browser while other tasks are being done.

Now, the designer/developer in me wants to create an AIR application out of this, so people could install it on their desktops.

But apart from that, I’m interested by this concept. I believe that spirituality goes through seasons, just like people north of Florida do. During the time that I’ve known Jesus, my attempts at prayer have been nothing if not varied. For a time during high school, I had a schedule that allowed me to play music and devote myself to prayer for extended periods of time. I am thankful for this, and extremely aware of concrete as well as abstract differences that that season made in my life.

During college, this was typically not possible for me, and prayer took on a different shape. For the majority of the time I was in college, I worked as a night shift custodian, and was often able to spend significant parts of my shift alone, thinking and meditating and communicating with God. Have you ever talked to God while mopping a floor? It can be a powerful thing. Again, I am thankful for this, and am extremely aware of the differences that that season made in my life.

More recently, I find myself needing a new season. I’ve often questioned what part technology and related things could or should play in my spirituality. I passionately believe that spirituality has to permeate all of life to be most effective. I don’t believe in compartmentalizing life, and saying, “Well God, this is my computer. You don’t have anything to do with that. Wait till I go to church on Sunday.” Or “Wait till I get home, and I’ll talk to you right before I fall asleep (Dear God, … snore). It’s like saying to God, “You don’t understand this part of my life. Let me deal with it.”

Not that most people would ever bother to say this, but we typically don’t act like we believe God really understands us. Like he knows what’s going on in our lives. We think Jesus is really nice, and maybe sometimes really useful, and that he had a lot of nice sayings that might be good to quote at random times, or print on posters of sheep and hang on our walls. But we act like we don’t think he’s very smart. Dallas Willard has brilliant treatments of these ideas in books like Divine Conspiracy.

I feel that things like the lava lamp of prayer are relevant to these ideas. I feel that blogging is relevant to these ideas. May we pray as we can, and not as we cannot…