Spiritual Practice


Enuma Okoro

When we talk about God, we rarely use the word play. We’re not sure playfulness has anything to do with taking God seriously. However, when I look around at creation, I cannot help but believe that God is playful. I will never forget the first time I saw purple trees in Nairobi, Kenya. But we don’t have to travel far to see God’s character mirrored in creation. Every season speaks of a playful God. Does God have a heavenly playroom filled with the crayon-like colors for fall, the fresh snow for winter, the fancy dress-up flowers for spring, and a painter’s palette for mixing all the different shades of summer green—not to mention the joyful frenzy of hummingbirds? Our world speaks of a God who delights in beauty, color, and whimsy—just for the sake of it.

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If God is playful, how do we make room in our lives for play? What are the activities and who are the people that help us cultivate happiness, amusement, delight, wonder, joy, and laughter? How do we blend playfulness with honor? Reflecting on how we honor God, regardless of our activities, may be the place to begin. Whatever we do should witness to God’s goodness, hospitality, justice, love, mercy, grace, and joy. Play that honors God is never at the expense of another person’s dignity. It is not selfish or exclusive. It never opposes God’s commandment to love God with mind, body, and spirit.


We have so much freedom to weave playfulness into our lives of faith! Play is for people of all ages, adding to our lives an element of delight that mirrors God’s delight. Sports, music, visual and performing arts, writing, building, and creating can be ways we play with the gifts and talents God has given us or ways in which we delight in the gifts and talents of others. Determining how to incorporate playfulness into our faith life may mean trying out different activities that pique our interest and bring us joy. I like nothing more than trying new recipes and cooking extravagant meals for friends. This is one way I play. Playing in this way gives me joy and offers hospitality to others. I also play my guitar and sing, but only for myself and for God, who gets to hear me sing simply for the sake of singing.

God’s playground is big and broad, with plenty of room for all the ways we find joy in God’s created world. How is God calling you to play today?



Make a list of your favorite ways to play when you were a child. Then make a list of the ways you spend your time as a teenager or young adult. What connections can you draw between how you played as a child and how you play now? Write a letter to God; talk about where you see God’s playfulness in the world and how you want to mirror God’s playfulness in your own life.

Enuma Okoro is a speaker and writer who plays with words. She also tries to talk her friends into Saturday afternoon play dates, making collages, doing yoga in the park, and having bake-offs. Learn more about her at

—from devozine (May/June 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.
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