talking to God hand uplifted to heaven

Talking to God | Spiritual Meditations

Who wouldn’t want to talk to someone with credentials that include: Creator, Helper, Strength of His people, Everlasting  Light, God of Peace, Loving and Forgiving God, Comforter, Faithful and True?

In my last post, I encouraged you to talk to God.  It occurred to me that maybe we should delve into this a little further.  There are a number of ways we can talk to God.  I’m going to share my experience with you and I hope you will share yours with me.

Childhood Prayers

When I was a child my family sat around the dinner table and my dad said  a standard prayer each night.  “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food”.  Short and appreciative, but we were recognizing God’s participation in our lives.

The bedtime prayer I was taught was, “Now I lay me down to sleep.  I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take”.  This was then followed by a list of everyone I wanted God to bless, which was much the same every night, but did allowed for some childish variation and was the beginning of really talking to God.  This night time ritual was overseen by one of my parents.   I was brought up to believe there is a God,  a God worth learning about, and a God who knew me.  From my perspective, it was a one-way conversation, but God heard.  The “die before I wake”, part didn’t really bother me, but I have to say, I remember at that age, being concerned about somebody or something coming in my 2nd story bedroom window or hiding under my bed.

What childhood prayers do you remember?  I’d like to hear them.  Please enter them in the comments.

Group Prayers

Today, in churches and gatherings all over the world, Christians recite the Lord’s prayer, in spite of the fact that Jesus specifically told us to pray in solitude.  But in defense of this practice, it IS the only prayer that Jesus spelled out and he said “For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them.”  He also quoted from Isaiah 56:7 “My house will be called a house of prayer”  (Luke 19:46).  So saying a group prayer that he gave us, in his presence, must be OK.

Matthew 6:5-15 New International Version (NIV)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.   “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from the evil one.’

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Just Me and God Talking

The other notable part of this scripture, is “your Father knows what you need before you ask Him”.  So why ask Him for anything?!  My experience indicates that God wants us to communicate with Him, but there is no need to repeat the same request over and over.  What I have found to be more important is being sincere and speaking to God from my very core, from my heart, in honesty and vulnerability…laying it all out there…getting personal.  I have to believe that it is more beneficial for me to recognize the need, the reliance on God, than it is for me to explain to God what I need…since He already knows. Make the request and then trust that He will address it as He sees fit.    When I have heard back from God, it has been in response to this kind of heart-felt plea or expression.

This, of course, is where the ability to recognize God’s response becomes important, which may not be evident if we haven’t trained ourselves to listen.  This is where the work comes in…the study of spiritual truths and meditation.

In 2004 the city where I live was expected to have a direct hurricane hit and my house was in a low area.  I prepared the best I could and then went, with my family, to the home of a friend who lived on higher ground and in a house with all the latest hurricane  protection features.  I had pleaded with God to protect us from the storm.  I remember exactly where I was when He answered me.   As we got out of the car and approached the friend’s front door, I felt suddenly calm.  God told me we would be fine.  It turned out to be a beautiful day, hardly a cloud in the sky.  After a morning visit with our friends, we went home.

Talking All the Time

There’s one more aspect of talking to God that I want to mention.  What does it mean to “pray without ceasing”?  I don’t think God necessarily wants us to excuse ourselves from the world and join a monastery so that we can pray all day.  I think the apostle Paul was telling us  to make God a part of our daily life, like a friend that we talk to every day, wherever we are. Our constant companion and counselor.   No need to text.  Some people talk out loud to God, but He hears your thoughts just as well.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

 Rejoice always;  pray without ceasing;  in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Any Final Thoughts?

Billions of people talk to God and we don’t all do it the same way.  And, certainly, God communicates with us in many ways.   I would like to hear about the ways you converse with God.  I’d also like to hear about how He talks to you.  What examples stand out in your mind?  Please enter them in the comments.  Thanks.

 

 

overworked people in business meeting

The Murderous Workplace | Spiritual Meditations

How many work hours do you put in every week? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the average American works 44 hours per week. A Gallop poll puts the average at 47 to 50 hours per week and a Bloomberg Businessweek report indicates that some factory workers put in 12 hours a day for 6 to 7 days a week. After a work schedule like that who’s going to make a healthy meal or work out?  And that kind of life isn’t necessary if you are One with God.

Overworking Your System

John Ross, MD, FIDSA in the Harvard Health Publishing reports that

In most developed countries, overwork is not seen as a public health problem. However, death from overwork is common enough in Japan that there is a word for it: karōshi. Japanese corporate workers, or salarymen, have a tradition of lifelong job security. Unfortunately, for them, the tradeoff is that they are expected to log long hours of unpaid overtime… In China, death from overwork, known there as guolaosi, is also said to be widespread.

Researchers from University College London compiled data on the relationship between working hours and heart attack risk in over 600,000 workers, as well as similar data on stroke risk in over 500,000 workers. … They found that those who worked more than 55 hours per week had a 13% greater risk of a heart attack, and were 33% more likely to suffer a stroke, compared with those who worked 35-40 hours per week.

Overwork also can result in sleep deprivation, which can result in a host of problems: obesity, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also inhibits our ability to think and remember. If you think you can function with minimal shut-eye, The Wall Street Journal reports that for every 100 people who think they are a member of the “sleepless elite,” only 5 really are. Only 1–3% of people can actually function on five or six hours of sleep a night without their performance suffering.

In her blog, Lindsay Kolowich relates that,

In 2015, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health published the largest ever study of the correlation between working patterns and alcohol consumption. In the study, a group of researchers put together a dataset of over 330,000 workers across 14 different countries. They found that …when people worked more than 48 hours per week, they were more likely to engage in “increased risky alcohol use.” Risky alcohol use was defined as more than 14 drinks per week for women and more than 21 drinks per week for men.

Who’s Killing You?

Some employers require long hours from their salaried employees; however, in some organizations the culture promotes a philosophy that extra hours facilitate promotion. The culture says that those who are always connected (via email, text or phone) impress their superiors. Those who take a company laptop with them on vacation prioritize the company above all else and make themselves indispensable. Sound familiar?

It takes an emotionally strong individual to walk out the door at 5:00, but that individual is or will be the more physically and mentally strong by doing so.

Can you identify with any of the above or does it sound like anyone you know? How do we escape from a life overrun with work and the accompanying illness? If you are in this situation, and know how to escape from it, I’m going to assume that you are already taking steps to resolve it. If you have not made the great escape, I’m going to suggest that your ability to do so, or your ability to at least reduce the pain, correlates to where you are on your faith journey.

Meditation is a Weapon

Solitude, meditation and prayer are going to give you stress relief to the extent that you use them.

Andrew Newberg, an expert in neurotheology states on Tonic that:

Despite a dose of healthy skepticism, it’s hard to ignore the growing body of research dedicated to the neural correlates and potential benefits of these practices [prayer], including non-Christian ones, like mindfulness and meditation. Dozens of studies have found changes before and after prayer or meditative activities in the autonomic nervous system, which controls relaxation and arousal, [and] in parasympathetic activity, which can decrease heart rate and blood pressure, metabolism, or respiration.

You may be exhausted, but fit in some meditation wherever you can; lunch breaks, after work, when the kids are asleep or early in the morning. Once you become proficient at blocking out the surrounding noise, you may even be able to meditate while on the train or bus. Talking to God can be done anywhere at any time. Make God a part of your everyday life and you will gradually recognize that He is active in your everyday life.

Lessons From the Truly Connected

For the truly God-connected individuals, (who know, trust and love God) big decisions are often urged by God, and He helps smooth the pathway. Just listen for His Spirit; your Inner Being.

Here is how Dr Wayne W Dyer explained his work transition.

When I left the work that no longer inspired me, every single detail that I’d worried about was almost magically taken care of for me. I’d spent several months working for a large corporation where I was offered a salary three times higher than I’d been paid as a teacher, but I wasn’t in spirit. That prodding inner knowing said, What are you here to do, and teaching/counseling became my manifested daily purpose…I suggest that there is no risk at all if you pay attention to that light…Combine your strong knowing with the faith the Spirit.

In the book Experiencing God, the authors relate the story of a doctor they met.

As a college student, he had felt God calling him to be a medical missionary. He attended medical school…[and] became an expert in the study of immune diseases and was invited to join the staff of a prestigious hospital. For several years he worked at the hospital…but during the conference at which he and I met, God convicted him that he had neglected to obey his call to missions. Now, well established in his career, and supporting a family, he wondered if it was too late….I advised the doctor to spend time with God and ask Him to clarify exactly what He wanted him to do at this stage in his life. Later I heard that the physician had resigned his prestigious position and had become a missionary in Africa in an area ravaged by AIDS.

Seek First the Kingdom

Besides prayer and meditation, how do we develop the kind of connection with God that makes us comfortable with taking the first step in making major life changes? The answer that we find in scripture is ‘seek first the kingdom,’ and all else, including material needs, will be met.  This is the Kingdom within you, developed through regular meditation on spiritual phrases followed by being in a attitude of listening to the Spirit.  Not thinking.

What we should be seeking is not increased dollars or improved health, as desirable as these are, but rebirth, an entrance into a state of consciousness, which is God’s kingdom, and not of this world.

From our earliest years, the desirability of being a go-getter, having a strong personality, being dynamic, knowing what we want and going after it, and the importance of getting, achieving, and accomplishing have been impressed upon us… Whenever, we have pushed or elbowed someone aside mentally or physically, or reached out for that which is rightfully someone else’s, in that degree we have also violated spiritual law.

Even that for which we have legally and legitimately struggled, was sometimes the very thing that destroys us because in as much as we are infinite, and according to the teachings of the Master [Jesus], have within us, all that the Father has, any attempt to add to that infinity is in itself a violation of the law of God…Instead of starting out in life with the idea of gaining, getting or achieving we would reverse that and our attitude would be one of serving, giving, bestowing, sharing and co-operating…In such a state of consciousness, our good [prosperity] on the human plane would be the reflex action of our giving and sharing. [italics mine]

Every time we believe that there is something or somebody to be gained or won–some name, some fame, some fortune–we are at that very moment in violation of the spiritual principle of life which is givingness.   from The Thunder of Silence by Joel S Goldsmith

Conclusion

If you find yourself, or someone you know, struggling to keep life on track, as a result of too many work hours, take a close look at the cause. Who is making the decision to put in all those hours? Are you succumbing to the culture of your work environment? Is it your boss or are you motivated by material things? God is always there to listen, no matter where you are. Can you whittle out a few moments to meditate, decompress and open yourself to hearing the still small voice of God, your Inner Being, guiding you? If you can, your future will be more peaceful and satisfying for it. Give it a try and contact me with the results. I would love to hear about your experience.

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 127:2
It is senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing you will starve to death; for God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest.

Proverbs 10:22
The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth. All our work adds nothing to it!

Psalms 37:4
Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Matthew 6:25-33 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Methaphor for the many who have entered the afterlife

Afraid of Death? Get to Know Your Unknown |Spiritual Meditations

 

Every religion in history has suggested a concept of what comes after death.  We humans find most of these concepts to be comforting as they relieve our anxiety about the unknown.  Some of us have had experiences that confirm our beliefs.  Others profess the beliefs of their religious traditions, but still have some uncertainties.  There are folks who think there is nothing after death and it’s just lights out and no consciousness.  Other than the group that has had an afterlife affirming experience, there are going to be many who are truly afraid of the unknown existence (or lack there of) after they die.

I’m going to attempt to relieve some of your fears.

The Scientific Model Applied to Near Death Experience

Radiology Oncologist, Dr. Jeff Long, develop an exhaustive survey which can be seen on his website.  (Be sure to click on ‘New Experiences’ to read many accounts of Near-Death Experiences.)  For several year, people who have had Near-Death Experiences (NDE) have voluntarily completed his survey sharing their experience.  The surveys consistently show up to 9 lines of evidence which have been categorized by Dr. Long and used by the community of researchers who study NDE.  Dr. Long presents his findings based on 613 surveys in his book Evidence of the Afterlife,

In this fascinating interview, Dr Long talks about his findings as well as some individual cases.  See  ‘A Glimpse Through the Thin Curtain between Life and Afterlife for a couple of examples of what Dr Long describes as common shared experiences between the dying/dead and the living.

The 9 lines of evidence are:

1. Crystal-Clear Consciousness

The level of consciousness and alertness during near-death experiences (NDEs) is usually even greater than that experienced in everyday life even though NDEs generally occur when a person is unconscious or clinically dead. This high level of consciousness while physically unconscious is medically inexplicable. Additionally, the elements in NDEs generally follow the same consistent and logical order in all age groups and around the world, which refutes the possibility that NDEs have any relation to dreams or hallucinations.

2. Realistic Out-of-Body Experiences

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are one of the most common elements of NDEs. What NDErs see and hear of earthly events in the out-of-body state is almost always realistic. When the NDEr or others later seek to verify what was observed or heard during the NDE, the OBE observations are almost always confirmed as completely accurate. Even if the OBE observations during the NDE included events far from the physical body, and far from any possible sensory awareness of the NDEr, the OBE observations are still almost always confirmed as completely accurate. This fact alone rules out the possibility that near-death experiences are related to any known brain functioning or sensory awareness. This also refutes the possibility that NDEs are unrealistic fragments of memory from the brain.

3. Heightened Senses

Not only are heightened senses reported by most who have experienced NDEs, normal or supernormal vision has occurred in those with significantly impaired vision, and even legal blindness. Several people who have been totally blind since birth have reported highly visual near-death experiences. This is medically inexplicable.

4. Consciousness During Anesthesia

Many NDEs occur while under general anesthesia – at a time when any conscious experience should be impossible. While some skeptics claim that these NDEs may be the result of too little anesthesia, this ignores the fact that some NDEs result from anesthesia overdose. Additionally, the description of an NDE differs greatly from that of one who experiences “anesthetic awareness.” The content of NDEs that occur under general anesthesia is essentially indistinguishable from NDEs that did not occur under general anesthesia. This is further strong evidence that NDEs are occurring completely independently from the functioning of the physical brain.

5. Perfect Playback

Life reviews in near-death experiences include real events that previously took place in the lives of those having the experience, even if the events were forgotten or happened before they were old enough to remember.

6. Family Reunions

During an NDE, the people encountered are virtually always deceased, and are usually relatives of the person having the experience – sometimes they are even relatives who died before the NDEr was born. Were the NDE only a product of memory fragments, they would almost certainly include far more living people, including those with whom they had more recently interacted.

7. Children’s Experiences

The near-death experiences of children, including very young children who are too young to have developed concepts of death, religion, or near-death experiences, are essentially identical to those of older children and adults. This refutes the possibility that the content of NDEs is produced by preexisting beliefs or cultural conditioning.

8. Worldwide Consistency

Near-death experiences appear remarkably consistent around the world, and across many different religions and cultures. NDEs from non-Western countries are incredibly similar to those that occur in people in Western countries.

9. Aftereffects

It is common for people to experience major life changes after having near-death experiences. These aftereffects are often powerful, lasting, life-enhancing, and the changes generally follow a consistent pattern. As the NDErs themselves almost always believe – near-death experiences are, in a word, real.

Some people experience reviews of their lives during a NDE after which they make changes to their lives when returning to earthy consciousness. They say the reviews are done in a loving manner and show them the error of their ways.   In this video, NDErs talk about their experiences.

In a conference presentation Dr. Long mentions that only 1 of the 16 atheists who took the survey remained an atheist after their NDE. Even those who do not have reviews make a sustained effort to improve their contribution to the world, their families, and/or society. Obviously, the impact of these experiences is huge. You know how hard it is to make changes in your personality, attitudes and your life in general.

All NDEs used in his study included at least 7 out of the 9 lines of evidence.  This commonality points to the conclusion that NDE is a real experience of profound significance and meaning, and also provides evidence of life after death.

Dr. Long’s study is one of many.  There are studies with slightly different conclusions, using different sample types and sizes.  And there are studies that reached no conclusion whatsoever.  You can take a look at addition videos made at conferences of the International Association for Near Death Studies.  Many additional resources are on the site for the curious and for those who have had a NDE.

Now that we’ve seen what modern technology and the scientific method tell us about the afterlife, or at least the beginning of it, let’s see what additional information scripture has been telling us for centuries.

What More does Scripture Tells Us about the Afterlife

Your Soul, your Inner Being, is a piece of God and is your true identity.  Are you aware of that center of your being that is love?  Your deep down connection with God that nobody sees, but can be evidenced by your interactions with the world.

(If you have trouble sensing this in yourself, I hope that you will select a phrase from my suggestions or another scripture or phrase from an inspirational source and meditate on it for as many sessions as it takes to own it. The second part of your session, clearing your mind, is just as important as this enhances your ability to hear ‘the still small voice’ when God communicates with you.)

Paul, who met Jesus after Jesus’s resurrection, and a pretty inspired guy, wrote “We are the children of God: And if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17).  This is enormous!  Among the many implications of this, it says that just as Christ went to Heaven, so shall we.  You are heir to all the heavenly riches.

In Luke 15,  Jesus tells the story of two sons, one who took his inheritance and left home and the other who stayed at home to work the land.  He compares the father in the story to God the Father who tells his disgruntled loyal son   ‘you are always with me and all that I have is yours’.  Jesus is telling us that God will provide for all our needs, including an afterlife.

All the great religious figures of the past, despite their earthly contributions, have left their bodies behind and are continuing their spiritual ministry on a different plane.  The same plane that you and I will experience.  God tells us ‘Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you…I am with you always, even until the end of the world’.

When you are sick, God will be there with you.  When you come to your last moments, God will be there.  When you pass into the afterlife, God will be there to help you through.  Then you will see how little there was to fear.

Do not fear this human sense of life or the loss of it. The human sense of life is not your real life. Your real life is the life you are living in your Soul. That is your life, your real being….Just as you outgrew infancy and childhood, just as adulthood merged into the middle years, so will you outgrow the entire human experience and, unless you fight to cling to this present experience, that transition should be a progressive step. Begin as soon as you can to look on the experience of passing, not with horror and not as if it were the end of something beautiful. It is not the end: it is the beginning. It is but the end of one phase of experience and the beginning of another.

What is man’s state of being when he passes from this world? One thing is certain, and that is that those who are not on the spiritual path will not be placed on that path just by the act of dying. It is safe to assume that they will be in the very same state of consciousness when they awaken as they were when they left here. But, and this I know not from assumption, but from experience; those who are on the spiritual path, regardless of how little progress they seem to have made, are instantly, by the act of passing, lifted into a higher atmosphere than they experienced here on earth. Joel S Goldsmith

Your body is only your mechanism for walking around in the world and hopefully learning something from the experience. So find your Inner Being.

Relevant Scripture Verses

Gen 25:8     Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years, and he was gathered to his people

John 5:24     Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

Romans 8:10     But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 13     Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.