Practical Faith

I would love to be someone who has the capacity to practice wild and uninhibited faith.  I envy those who declare that their faith is so strong that they “know” God will hear their prayers and intercede where requested.

I don’t have that kind of faith.

I do have faith though.  I have a faith that at a very high level exists with a complete absence of doubt.

But –

When it comes to praying for intercession in our day to day lives I struggle.

Yet I do it.  I do it despite my struggles.  I do it because of my struggles.

I do it because I believe that prayer is not only productive, valuable and important – but vital!

I just don’t do it often enough.  I certainly don’t do it publicly often enough.

Why is that?

I think that oftentimes I get hung up with expectations.  I don’t feel that it’s right for me to have any expectations regarding the outcome of prayer.  It’s hard because I also believe that it’s necessary to be specific in praying for outcomes.

There is of course some paradox there.  Pray for what you want but don’t expect anything specific as an outcome.  Really?  That doesn’t seem logical.  If I don’t expect to see the specific outcome, why pray for it?

I think I’m beginning to figure out the why.

Identifying the expected outcome is an expression of hope.  Expressing my hope – especially in some kind of public forum – exposes my vulnerability.  Exposing my vulnerability is a form of confession.  Confession removes my arrogance from the picture and opens my soul to spiritual relationship.

Spiritual relationship with God.

Spiritual relationship with other souls.

When I confess my vulnerability, and acknowledge that I want and need the spiritual relationship and love of others through their prayer on my behalf, I complete the circuit that allows the outcome to be possible.

Embracing my vulnerability helps me to find balance in my spirit life.  It helps me to see through spirit first.  When I have balance and I’m seeing life through spirit I begin to see with new eyes and I’m suddenly able to see the many various and wonderful ways that spiritual connection with God and with others is possible.

I thank all of you who read and responded to yesterday’s post.  The merging of our collective conscious energy (prayer) resulted in immediate and significant relief.  When we do this act of prayer together, with intention and purpose, humbling ourselves while at the same time acknowledging the source of God’s unending power, anything is possible!

 

A Plan for Pain?

I am taking this opportunity to ask for prayers before I jump into this topic.  My wife has arthritis in her spine and has recently been suffering excruciating and unrelenting pain caused by inflammation of the arthritic areas.

Those of you who know me well, know that I like to think of myself as a rational and logical person.  Faith has been difficult for me at times because of this.  Yet, the more I explore the reasons for my own doubts the more I encounter reality that eradicates those same doubts.

I believe that belief that is not shared is not really believed.  If I don’t have the courage to stand up and declare what I think and believe publically then I must have doubt.  I no longer doubt what I believe so I’m publicly declaring my belief in the power of prayer.

I ask for intercessory prayer on my wife’s behalf.   I ask that you join me in praying for intercession in her life that brings her comfort in place of pain.

I believe that it’s vitally important that we ask for prayer from others, and that we pray for others as well.  I will spend some time in the future sharing my thoughts about the mechanistics of the benefit of prayer.  I have many ideas that may seem rather odd and divergent from what people commonly think of.  However, I think it’s very important to note that end the end – while I may use very different language and concepts to discuss these things – we are talking about the same thing.

I think sharing prayer has an exponential effect.  Therefore I must spread the word and ask for as much prayer from as many people as possible to have the greatest effect.

Thank you!

Back to my original topic.

Is there a plan that includes our pain and suffering?

I think that the pain and suffering we experience in our lives is for our benefit.  One purpose that it serves is that through the experience of pain and suffering we have the opportunity to develop true compassion for the pain and suffering of others.

My wife is one of the most compassionate people I’ve ever met.   In fact, I’d say that she is the most compassionate.  When she enters a situation where someone is suffering, they are often drawn to her.  She speaks with them – mostly listening – and through that simple exchange and their presence together the suffering is relieved, at least to some degree.

I believe that my wife exudes and radiates an aura of relief from suffering because she has experienced so much suffering herself.  Her experience of pain and suffering has become a gift for others who seek relief from their own pain.

I’m eager to share my thoughts about the nature of how this can be.  I think that this world is entering a period where science, theology, philosophy and spirituality are going to find common understanding of our place within creation and the universe.  I think that through the exploration of these topics we will find new ways of understanding our place in the world.

More to come.

Is this really His plan?

Another day, and another mass shooting (or more than one) hits the news.  In the wake of these senseless acts many are drawn to ask some very straight forward questions…

How can a loving God fail to intervene and stop the harm that humans cause in this world?

If God has a plan for us, and for our lives, does that mean that part of His plan includes living in a world filled with such utter evil?

Is this really His plan?

I’ve struggled with these questions often.  Yet my faith remains strong.  In fact, my faith has grown along with my struggle.

I know there are those who don’t understand how that can be.  I’m not going to pretend to have answers for anyone other than myself.  My thoughts on this subject may not be helpful to you at all.  But… if there is any chance that they might help, I would be remiss if I didn’t share them.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s what I think.

I think that the core of our confusion comes from a misunderstanding about the nature of God Himself.  Without intending to, or understanding that we’re doing it, we ascribe human qualities and attributes to God when we think about these things.  We presume that God sees the world the same way that we do.

God is love.  When He created us He created us to be able to experience Him.  To have relationship with Him.  To love Him.  When we love, we are engaging in relationship with God.

In order for our ability to love to have meaning we must also have the ability to not love.  God gave us the choice to love or not in order for us to be able to comprehend His love for us.

Think for a moment of some of the great opposites of life.

Light and dark.

We can’t understand light, without dark.  One requires the other in order to provide the framework for understanding either.

Hot and cold…  soft and hard… loud and soft…

Good and evil.

Love, or hate.

 

We can choose love… choose relationship with God.

-or-

We can choose to not love… we can reject God.  The cumulative effect of the rejection of God is the introduction of evil into the world.

God knew that many would rebel against Him.  But He also knew that many would choose to follow Him and have a relationship with Him.

God knew that the effect of those turning against Him would be suffering in the world.  However, suffering was not His purpose.  It’s a consequence of our rejection of Him.  Yet, He takes our suffering and uses it for His purpose.

It’s through our suffering that we are able to gain sufficient perspective to understand what Grace is all about.  God exists in a constant and unending state of Love that we can take part in.  Without suffering His grace would have no meaning.

To appreciate light we have to experience dark.

In response to events such as these we have a choice.  We can turn away from God or we can turn toward God.  Through the suffering of His son, God has experienced human suffering at its worse.  He understands our pain.  He provides us with an option for relief from our pain.  He offers us the opportunity to transcend our humanity and to join with Him in perfect eternal relationship of spirit.

I can’t say that I know how God will use these senseless acts for good.  But… Here I am, writing about His love.  Encouraging you to turn toward Him rather than away.

Here I am, stepping forward to be counted as a man of faith – and sharing my faith openly with others.  This is not a path I imagined for myself.

In a strange, counterintuitive way, these tragedies strengthen my faith and my resolve to do my part to share the message of God’s love for us.