Spirit Prompts

I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet: saying, “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches.”  – Revelation 1:9-11, NRSV

The voice said to John, “Write what you see.” The sights he set down in words will blow your mind, if they haven’t already. 

“Write what you see.” A holy writing prompt, long before the phrase got 150,000,000 hits in a search engine.

Alice Walker had a similar one that rescued me from many dry spells, an inspiration I found in her work years ago. She suggested picking up a photograph with personal meaning and starting with the words, “In this one….” It’s an invitation to describe a world that only you could see. A world that doesn’t exist, apart from your telling.

Maybe God gives you the same holy prompt that John heard, long ago on Patmos. Do you see trouble? Write it. Beauty? Write that. Solidarity? Write that. Persecution? Write that, too. 

Maybe you’re not so much for writing—so speak what you see, or draw what you see, or sculpt what you see. Maybe your “seeing” is with the ears or the taste buds instead of the eyes. Either way: take what you know, and share it. 

Because the kin-dom is always looking for your vision, to become complete. 


O Holy Revealer, open my senses that I may take in the trouble you seek to heal, the beauty you send for wonder, the grace that is your realm. Then give me the prompting I need, to share the revelation. Amen.

Small Group Discussion

About the Author
The Rev. Dr. John A. Nelson is Pastor and Teacher of the Congregational Church of Salisbury (CT).