Seeing Is Believing: Experience Jesus Through Imaginative Prayer
Author: Gregory A. Boyd
Publisher: Baker (2004)
Topic: Christian Discipleship/ Healing: How can we experience the things of God as real?
- Christianity Today’s 2005 Award of Merit in the category of Spirituality
- Publisher’s Weekly “Authors Who Inspire, Encourage, Challenge”
Description: If you’re like most people, you consider prayer an obligation. You do it because you feel like you should, not because you’re passionate about it. The result is often apathy or fatigue or both.
But Scripture and church tradition speak of a different experience of prayer. Seeing is Believing will introduce you to the centuries-old Christian practice of imaginative prayer. Let Greg Boyd lead you to an experience of prayer that is fresh and revolutionary. If you long to experience the reality of things you believe, this book is for you.
Greg’s story behind the writing of Seeing Is Believing: While serving as an assistant pastor of a church when I was in seminary, I gradually discerned that the primary reason some people get into prayer and worship while others don’t is that some people utilize their imagination in prayer and worship while other’s don’t. Without usually knowing it, they imaginatively see, hear, sense and experience who they’re praying and singing to and what they’re singing about. The other group, for whatever reasons, never learned how to do this. Consequently, the first group experiences Jesus and spiritual realities as real, while the second group does not. The first group naturally invests much more time and energy in pray and worship, while the second group does it mainly out of obligation.
I wondered if there was a way to teach people how to use their imaginations in prayer and worship. So I began reading books on cognitive therapy and neuroscience and started studying the devotional traditions of the church. I learned that imagination has increasingly been acknowledged by scientists as foundational for thinking and emotions and that there’s a long church tradition that understood its importance in the devotional life of believers (the “cataphatic” spiritual tradition). Around 1985 I shared what I’d learned in a seminar called “Experiencing Jesus.” A lot of people said it changed their lives.
I continued to lead seminars for various churches for the next several years and then decided to write a book based on this material. By 1990 I’d composing a book called Seeing Jesus (which is essentially the same book as Seeing Is Believing). But I couldn’t get any publisher to publish it! I was told the book was too “evangelical” for Catholic publishers and too “New Agey” for evangelical publishers. This was right after David Hunt had published his book The Seduction of Christianity in which he accuses everybody who advocates the use of imagination in prayer to be part of a New Age conspiracy trying to take over the church. New Age paranoia was rampant in the church. I was very discouraged by this.
I continued to do seminars on imaginative spirituality, but pretty much gave up trying to get the book published. Then, around 2002 or so, I was having lunch with Robert Hosack, an editor from Baker Publishing House. Robert and I had already worked on a couple books together (Cynic Sage or Son of God? God of the Possible) and he asked me if I had any book projects that he could take a look at. I gave him an old draft of Seeing Jesus, and to my surprise, he loved it. So I updated the material, re-wrote the book, and the rest is history.
It’s been very rewarding witnessing the transforming power of the seminars I’ve been conducting carry over into the book. Many have told me this book revolutionized their prayer life and their worship.