Prayer and the presence of god.

When I was much younger, I used to believe that prayer literally placed a group in the presence of god. I think that belief was inspired by the verse about "Where two or more are gathered in prayer..." Matthew 18:20 (New International Version) For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

While the pastor prayed in church or when my family prayed before dinner, I would squeeze my eyes so tight! I imagined we were instantly transported to heaven, where we were safely in the presence of god. "No harm could come to anybody while praying," I thought.

Little by little, I began to unclench my eyelids as the people around me prayed - peeking slightly at first - to catch a glimpse of heaven.

To my surprise and eventual amusement, I noticed I was still in the church... and so was everybody else, too.

I don't go to church anymore, but my family still prays before meals. Occasionally I will see people open their eyes while everybody else is praying. If they catch my gaze I will smile at them. It's okay - we're all still in the room.