Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Find it for yourself

Excellent magazine: Relevant. Hip and spiritual. Great place to take the pulse of spirituality in the rising generation.

"Prayer Defined" by Kyle Lake in the most recent issue resonated with me. I've been talking to lots of people about prayer lately, and beginning to develop my own convictions about it. And Lake confirmed some of what I’m thinking.

If we are going to push toward a real, whole-life, interactive relationship with God, we must be willing to cut ties with misunderstandings—perhaps misunderstandings we picked up along the way or even misunderstandings we were explicitly taught.

Very true. But how do we uncover misunderstandings and correct them? This is key to me for spiritual growth. You have to stop believing what other people have told you and figure it out for yourself.

This doesn't mean the other people were wrong; rather, they were right for themselves. But only you will know if what they say or have experienced applies to you. You've got to work it out for yourself.

I'm continually grateful for the time I spent several years ago reading the Bible and Science and Health. I read both books straight through, determining to glean for myself what they meant for me. I systematically and frankly rejected everything anyone else had told me and insisted I would find my out for myself what these books had to say.

I took nothing for granted. I refused to blithely say, Oh, I understand that. Rather, every idea the books presented was grist for the contemplation mill. And I discovered that some of what other people had said did indeed apply to me, and I could put it into practice in my own life. I also found that lots of what I'd heard was actually nonsense to me, and I didn't find these things in the actual writings.

I began to develop my own working definitions of certain terms, realizing they were *my* definitions and I didn't need to impose them on anyone else. But as long as these definitions were based on an accurate reading of the books, I felt I was building on solid ground.

For example, my definition of prayer has developed and continues to develop. For me, through my reading and experience, I've come to believe that prayer includes some essential elements: a connection with the Higher Power, a deeper discovery of what that Power is, and a transformation of thought. I don't feel like I'm done when I'm praying unless that transformation of thought takes place. I know it when I feel it; I miss it if it's not there. To me, prayer is just words unless I'm transformed in some way.

But that's just me. I love what Lake says about prayer later in his essay:

[T]he persistent, silent awareness of God that threads through your day, even in the most mundane times—on a bike, in a journal, after the movie, in the car—they all count. Not only do they count, but that fluid, seamless life with God you exhibit has actually been God's hope all along.

I'm convinced God wants us to know Him. But we don't get to know Him through others' conclusions. We've got to do the spade work to get the direct connection. God is best friends forever with each of us. What does it take to get to know a best friend?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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