Worship and NLP – why we are drawn back to the familiar
Have you noticed how important it is for people to worship in a particular style? Whether it is silence, or with their hands in the air or using incense or the Book of Common Prayer, there will be people who contend that they can only worship in that way.
I have been quite a traveller in terms of worship, I started in a high church where the Eucharist was most important, and I have worshipped in happy-clappy churches, low churches where the sermon was most important, I use the Book of Common Prayer a lot now, and I prefer contemplation in my private prayer. They give me different ways of seeing God, I imagine it is as if God is a crystal, and if you shine the light from different angles, different facets shine.
I have been taken aback at how strongly some people object if a suggestion is made that they might join with other worshippers at another church doing a fairly similar service. It sometimes feels like God will only turn up at their church in their style of worship.
My belief is it can be explained with Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) (a psychological method that links good or bad feelings to experiences). So if you are in church reading a certain liturgy and you sense God in that moment, the next time you read the same words, the feeling of God returns. If you always worship in the same way, then after a while, the whole liturgy brings back feelings of God and becomes very precious. The same can be true of the building, it becomes the place where God is particularly present for you. I have found that the Book of Common Prayer has become increasing special to me over the last three years, for this very reason, I believe.
Furthermore, I was mentoring a student recently, and to explain Ignatian prayer, I showed him the form of words I use each evening. I found that as I tried to read them, the words were sacred to me, I could barely read them for they could only be prayed. I think prayer has become easier for me over the years, because the words of the prayer themselves transport me into a prayerful state.
Written by Lesley Fellows, an Anglican curate based in Buckinghamshire UK.