What is the connection between God’s desire for us, sexuality and spiritual intimacy?
I will never forget the first time I saw praying for others, sexuality and spirituality come together at a Leanne Payne’s Pastoral Care School back sixteen years ago. At that point in time, before a gathering of almost a thousand people, lecturer and pastor Mario Bergner prayed this compassionate, tender, sensitive pastoral prayer about their sexuality in the hearing of all those present.
With gentleness, skill, and candor, he led this entire assembly into the presence of God bringing issues of sexual attraction, addiction, compulsions, and desires before God. They called this healing prayer.
Two worlds—sexuality and spirituality—merged before my eyes and ears—two worlds that had been utterly separate for the first twenty years of my evangelical experience.
That embodied sexual-spiritual experience would eventually lead me beyond healing prayer into an ever-expanding curiosity about the connection between a social or relational sexuality (no genital trajectories) and spiritual intimacy in cross-gender friendship.
It would inspire me several years later into a one-on-one intentional spiritual friendship with female friends where we mutually sought God’s presence in prayer together as the heart of our relationship. Ten plus years later, I’m still happily married, still passionately love my wife, and I have practiced intentional spiritual companionship with close female friends with mutual prayer for those years.
“There are depths and fullness, good things small and great, to be discovered” observes popular author and spiritual director, William Barry.