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Archive for the ‘Grace in Unanswered Prayer’ Category

Smith climbs to the top of Mt Sinai to get close enough to talk to God. Looking up, he asks the Lord what does a million years mean to you?
“The Lord replies, “A minute “Smith asks, “And what does a million dollars
mean to you ? “The Lord replies,” A penny . “Smith asks ,” Can I
have a penny? The Lord replies,” In a minute .”

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My grandmother taught me to love to walk. She lived next door to us and we walked everywhere together when I was a child. My favorite walk with her was to a restaurant that served “black cows” (now known as Rootbeer floats). Although I loved this treat, it was the journey that I most enjoyed. Walking along, we’d talk of many things and laugh at some. Occassionally, I’d find a penny on the ground and would eagerly pocket this treasure. On each penny was a reminder, Grandma said, a reminder that said “In God We Trust.” Grandma has been gone for many decades now but I still think of her on my daily walks. Most everyday I find at least one penny.
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“How does Christian Meditation differ from Transcendental Meditation? I ask because I consider opening my mind and soul without being specific about what spirit I seek to be dangerous.”

B.P.

I do not know much about Transendental Meditation. However, I do understand your concern. Let me respond on several levels.

To begin with, I do not think the western mind is able to empty itself, both from my own spiritual practice and from what I have learned from others. Our culture effects our neurological system and we simply don’t have the outer structures that allow our minds to become totally silent and empty.
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There is no wrong way to pray. The simplest, purest prayer is this: Help Me. This may be the only prayer you need for some time. Take a deep breath, turn your attention to your heart and simply ask .Help Me..

The beginning of prayer is petition – the prayer of supplication, in the words of St. Issac the Syrian – which is anxious, and weighed down with preoccupations and fears. This is no more than a preparation for true prayer – spiritual prayer – and consists in a gradual ascent towards God in seeking and effort.

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“…faith in God can actually be a liberating thing, a breaker down of barriers, a refusal to accept fragmentation as the last word, a stimulus to look beyond understanding, a promise held out to us that truth is one, and truth is great and will prevail.”

John Habgood, Confessions of a Conservative Liberal

Such faith, in my experience, requires spiritual disciplines of prayer, scripture reading, silence, worship (even when we know the church is totally messed up), serving others, and practicing the presence of God through the Jesus Prayer. Without these things, confusion can easily prevail.
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How have you proceeded to develop your relationship with God and enhance your sense of His presence – is meditation the central method or other means?

This has been a very, very long journey. Having been grounded by a chronic illness (fibromyalgia) I have had a great deal of time and inclination to go deeply into spiritual practice. In addtion, I allowed myself to ask questions of faith and to not be afraid of the answers, nor to be afraid of there not being any answers. I can point to books and spiritual practices (see Resources) However, each person needs to “carry their own cross,” i.e. live one’s own indivitual life with all your own foibles and frustrations.
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I received the following from a friend who has known me for almost 20 years:

Terming your self “The Practical Mystic” is very descriptive. I once described you as being perhaps the most spiritual person I knew and yet grounded in the realities of human life. I certainly have seen evidence of the gifts of the spirit in you.

I do have some questions that might also be of interest to visitors to your web site: I wonder how the spiritual gifts described in the Bible fit in with being a Christian mystic? Are some of them integral to the Christian mystic or are they independent? Also, how have you proceeded to develop your relationship with God and enhance your sense of His presence – is meditation the central method or other means?

I would encourage you to write on the practice of Christian meditation. (Some are practicing transcendental meditation: they open their minds and souls without being specific about the spirit they seek, a practice I consider dangerous.)

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From the prayers of the Desert Fathers:

Just sit there.
Sit here right now.
Rest.

For our separation from God
Is the hardest
Work of all.

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When someone says “I prayed about…” or “I pray and God never seems to answer,” that person may be speaking of a form of Prayers of Petition. Crying “Help!” to God is perhaps our common prayer, known almost universally in times of fear or despair. Unfortunately, this prayer is often done with an attitude similiar to a child sitting on Santa Claus lap – let’s call this the “Santa Claus” prayer.

On one hand, becoming like a child has merit. A story of Jesus from Matthew 18:2-4 goes like this:

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

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