The Rainbow Personality
Model of the praying personality. Not bother with models from psychology because too complex for most people to understand and relate to their experience.
Came up with my own.
Complete self - Jesus' emphasis - whole self, all you are.
Experience ourselves in various ways and in prayer often ill at ease with one another. Why am I finding it so hard to pray? Different aspects of myself were in conflict or variously uncomfortable. Listening to myself over many years, identifying these aspects.
Detail, thoroughness, specialisation, rigour - to the study of ourselves, our inner life.
- Problems in one layer or aspect (body uncomfortable, mind all over the place – reason?)
- Other problems caused by layers being in conflict with one another.
- More layers clashing, the harder it is to pray
- Methods of prayer aim to train one layer or train us to bring them together, therefore variety of methods helpful, use what works while it works, develop our weaknesses as well as our strengths
- When synchronised, like gears, energy flows from within, sense of cohesion, unity, completely ourselves and yet not aware of “ourselves” because completely absorbed in what we are doing, or in the Other. Fleeting moments or longer periods “in the zone”. Moments that take a lot of unpacking.
- More we practise, more often they come and longer they last
- Model by itself insufficient – attitude of honesty, attention and trust
Arrived at this model by process of experiment, analysis and reflection over several years. emerged from my efforts to pray, and failure to pray. What’s going wrong? Why can’t I do this? why is it so hard?
Failure to make a light bulb. 1000 ways of not making a light bulb. Learn a lot about what does make a light bulb. Similar process with regard to prayer. Model emerged gradually from this prolonged period. Continue to test it. continues to work.
Abundance as a holistic concept
The Rainbow Personality
Rather than use terms such as “flesh and spirit”, “body, soul and spirit”, “body and soul” or “mind, body, spirit” - Human being unity but many divers ways of being human: as body, emotion, mind (reason, memory and imagination); will and spirit. (e.g. rainbow colours = white light)
Much contemporary Christian literature advocates “holistic” or “whole-life” approaches to worship or service, but without pausing to examine what these terms might mean. Part of the problem stems from the fact that there is no generally accepted way of talking about the human personality which a) makes sense of our experiences in prayer and b) connects with both contemporary culture and a more scientific world-view.
In the Church, as in contemporary culture, some people refer to a person as having a “body and mind”; some as having “body and soul”; some as being “mind-body-spirit”; some as having body, mind and spirit. “Spirit” and “soul” are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes a distinction is drawn between them. It is extremely difficult to know what the “mind” is (as opposed to the brain) and how it is to be distinguished from the body, let alone how to describe and define “soul” or “spirit”. And, in any case, no combination of these terms adequately describes the experience of praying nor is sufficiently helpful in the process of working through the various problems encountered in prayer over a period of several years.
The Praying Personality
- Many layers or aspects or characteristics
- Each involved in prayer
- Operating separately and sometimes at cross-purposes
- Prayer aligns them with each other
- And aligns the whole Godward
- So that the person is able to worship in spirit and in truth
- And fulfil the great commandment to love the Lord our God with all that we are
- Russian doll
- The physical self, the body (artist’s figure)
- The emotional self, the heart (teddy bear)
- The psychological self, the mind:
- 1. The reasoning mind (a book)
- 2. The remembering mind (a box)
- 3. The seeing mind (an icon)
- The purposeful self, the will or soul (compass)
- The mysterious self, the spirit (candle flame)
- Will and soul - direction, life or death choices, “Here I stand, I can do no other”; back against the wall; here I am most utterly myself
- Takes a long time to get down to this layer
- Or be stripped down to it
- But this is where we stand or fall, and we know it
- When push comes to shove, when your back is against the wall
- What do you really want?
- Mysterious self - spirit-filled - strange, incomprehensible, touching us yet utterly beyond us
- We touch the hem of his garment here, but the further reaches are beyond us, utterly