Giving thanks to God in your prayers has another meaning for drivers in Colorado Springs. A billboard put up by an atheist group declared ‘God is an imaginary friend.” The group spokesperson said it was to get people to think, and think they did. Some thought it was ‘spot on,’ others thought it was a ‘sad commentary’ and still others didn’t think the billboard made a difference in the way people thought about God.
Prayer is a conversation with God and if we pray to an imaginary friend or the creator of everything including us, does that make religious people mildly insane? Does it matter? It does if there wasn’t so much evidence that God hears our prayers and if Jesus didn’t tell us that when we pray “ask in my name.” So was Jesus delusional? Was he praying to an imaginary father? You can’t have it both ways. Most atheists will allow that Jesus was a great teacher and a very moral man, but stop short about his claims regarding God. The most damaging claim to the “imaginary friend” idea is when Jesus said that He is God (and the son of God). Back in the day when Christ came to earth the teachers of religious law called it blasphemous and sought his arrest, his imprisonment and his execution. They found Jesus dangerous and not the God they wanted in their territory. They wanted a political God and a militia-God who could kick Roman booty and who would give them the kind of power they so longed for. Not this God who came for everyone (even the atheists).
Prayer for you and me
My prayer today is for the atheists and that their sign would indeed make us think and reason their very notion of our “imaginary friend.” The inner-game of prayer is imagining that you are doing something well before you actually are scheduled to do it. Why don’t you visualize prayer as if you are talking to an “imaginary friend.” What you are saying and your friend’s responses are being answered in the “still small voice” inside you. Imagine your conversation with God that way. No intimidation, no editing, no self-talk, but imagining God as a friend. In actuality that is who God is. The creator of everything wants to have a relationship with you and he values the time you spend with Him. If some think you have an “imaginary friend” and it helps you with your decisions, your relationships with others, and it helps you get through sleepless nights, sickness, worry and dark thoughts, it won’t be long before the “imaginary friend” gets you through enough of those times of troubles that you will realize that God is a real friend. Scientific method is taking the best information available and repeating the steps on a daily basis. Prayer is scientific method. It could start with a hypothesis (pray every morning, write down what you are praying about and record what answers you are seeing in your life.) When you can do that for six weeks the imaginary begins to be more of a theory and in time a hard and fast rule that is very real and relational. Thanks for making us think.