Did you ever have a pen-pal? They seem to have fallen out of fashion with the advent of the internet, but it used to be that we would pick up a pen or pencil, a piece of lovely stationery, and we’d write letters to people we’d never met…then wait anxiously for a return letter which could take weeks or even months to arrive. In this way, we used to build friendships across the country and even the world, though we never met in person.
What about using that same idea to build a friendship with God?
Find a pen that’s comfortable and writes smoothly and well. Find some paper–it can be plain copier paper, or nice stationery, or anything in between. Then just sit down and write a letter, as you would to a friend. Yes, the art of letter-writing is mostly lost in our technological society, but that doesn’t mean you have to let it die! Remember, this letter is just between you and God–no one else is going to read it (unless you want them to). Just write–what’s going on in your life? What do you want to ask your friend God? What are you celebrating, hoping, fearing? Write about anything you want, just as you would to a pen-pal. When you’re finished, put the letter in an envelope with the date on the outside…whether you seal it is up to you. Perhaps keep your letters in one of those photo-boxes, or a shoe-box (like we used to do with our pen pal letters!).
If you’re so inclined, you could also try to imagine writing a letter from God to you, or to the church. This is an activity we often do in confirmation class–we ask confirmands to imagine what God might say to the church, and to write a letter. The trick to this kind of prayer is to let your own intellect get out of the way, and to allow yourself to simply be a conduit for the love and challenge of God. Let the Spirit pour through your pen…don’t think too much! This year several confirmands wrote similar things in their letters from God to the church–and each was writing individually! Perhaps the Spirit was at work in those letters, and could be in yours too.
What do you think? How does it feel to write a letter to God? From God? This is a practice you may need to try a large number of times before you get comfortable–it can feel weird, and our adult brains often get in the way, rationalizing our way out of this kind of spiritual discipline. But keep at it! At the very least, you’ll have spent lots of time talking to God, and that’s always a good thing!
Want to know more about this kind of practice? Check out Rachel Hackenberg’s book “Writing To God: 40 Days of Praying With My Pen.”