STILLNESS

In this writer’s experience, most – nearly all – discussions of prayer include the necessity of silence – quietness – stillness – to know and recognize God’s presence. It is not a stillness that shuts off the mind from thought, but rather a time simply to set aside active thinking in the expectation of hearing and receiving the Almighty’s messages to us. Modern culture is very noisy and dominating. We need to cultivate sensitivity to what our minds are receiving and take control of it, when pushed in unproductive, unwanted, or negative directions.

Despite universal recognition of the role of silence in the spectrum of prayer, precious few sources actually expand concepts or methods of achieving it. Scripture tells us to “pray without ceasing.” In other words, it is central to true life. Silence can take the form of time spent apart, or be as simple as an inner listening pause to recognize the Almighty’s presence when considering an action or choice in day-to-day life.

This writer has been on a long venture to discover written experiences of others that confirm a personal time when Silence enabled life-changing patterns and a sense of the “new creation” promised to believers. I found that spending devoted quiet time was nothing to fear, was not a poor use of time, but rather the opposite: a time to shut down outer pressures, ask, seek, knock, listen, learn, receive guidance for day-to-day activities and knowing the right time to proceed or wait. Silence confirms the value of time, of our Being in God’s realm, of our human authenticity. It is deep assurance that God is available here and now, the One true reality. We can only give what we have received.

And yes, silence is a window into times of transition and spiritual growth.

This blog post is lengthy, but includes a reassuring quotation regarding times that do not seem to gel in life, despite dedication to prayer and knowing the Almighty. In short, such times can signal an immanent step in our ongoing spiritual maturing – the very substance of life.


Is not God the great silent force moving in and through all creation? If so, the moment we come into a sense of stillness we have actually become aware of the very first attribute of God–we have touched the hem of His garment. To acknowledge this sense of stillness as the very presence of God–which it is–is to take the first and most vital step toward actual revelation of further degrees of the divine nature, which lie beyond this hem of His garment, this outermost nature of the divine presence.

The ideas of yesterday are inadequate to meet the demands of a growing soul. No matter how great yesterday’s experience may have been, we should look forward each day in anticipation of still greater revelations. Sometimes, however, … we do not pass quickly over the transitional period; consequently we experience a depression. … Such periods are not only evidence that our former ideas have run their course, but are prophetic of a new cycle of experience, the dawn of a new creation in us, the herald of the next step in our spiritual growth. Instead of being times of despondency or discouragement, they should be times of keenest anticipation, of a new hope arising from the fact that we have arrived at the point of spiritual revelation. At such times one’s expectancy should be at its highest, for God is about to speak to one. At such moments in the future, let us look forward to a new revelation that shall, for another period of progress, be our very meat and drink.

– E. V. Ingraham, The Silence, 1922.

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DIVINE SELF

That which causes one to pray is really the evidence that the answer is already seeking expression in us. The process of the answer’s coming forth is not really the development on the part of the answer, but rather an expansion of the mind of man to comprehend the answer which already existed. In truth, the entire practice of prayer is the self-operative facts of God moving through the nature of man, and urging their way into complete expression in him, in all his affairs, and in all creation. “Before you call I will answer.” In the beginning of prayer–the urge to pray–is the first assertion, and in the end it is the expression of the Divine Self with all its powers and capacities.
Prayer in its truest sense is … the struggle of the Divine Self to come forth into being; and the ultimate answer to every prayer is this Divine Self actually come forth and expressed in the nature of man.

When the Prodigal Son returned to the Father’s house, he found that there was enough and to spare of all the things which he had need of in the way of position, shelter, food, and clothing. All of these lesser needs of his nature were taken care of in his definite return to his rightful place in his father’s house. So when man returns to his rightful place in the Divine scheme of life, when he awakens to the knowledge of his Divinity, he will also find that there is enough and to spare for all of his inner and outer nature.

To the individual awakened spiritually,
his continual realization,
his daily joyous prayer is the living declaration that God is All in All;
that the Will of God is done in absolute perfection
in and through his own being
and in all the world;
that God is his instant and inexhaustible supply;
that God has always and completely forgiven him from the beginning
and he is free from the binding and false notion of limitation;
that the Spirit of God sustains him in every undertaking of life;
that through the very goodness of God he is delivered
from all that which has seemed contrary to Him;
that he, as an individual, is a Kingdom wherein God rules;
that the power of God moves through him
to accomplish that which ought to be done by him;
and that the ultimate expression of all creation is but the crowning glory of God himself.

Thus the beginning and the ending, the alpha and omega of prayer are the same.

The joy with which he (the “pray-er”) proceeded in the beginning was the answer seeking to come forth; and the joy in the end became the grateful acknowledgment of ideals fulfilled.

E.V. Ingraham, Prayer, It’s Practice and It’s Answer, 1935


And do not adapt yourselves to this age,
but be transformed by the renewal of the mind,
to search out what is the intention of God,
– the Good, and Noble, and Perfect!

Romans 12:2
Translated by Ferrar Fenton,
The New Testament in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906.


Pray without ceasing.

I Thessalonians 5:17
King James Bible

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DIRECTION

One of the supreme moments in my life was the time when I decided to commit my life to the life of prayer. More than a quarter of a century ago I committed my life to the Lord, and it was not long until I discovered that this commitment led to another: to find the lost path to the secret spring, which is prayer. In my commitment, I purposed in my heart to follow the path and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, never to stop nor to turn back. It has been the most difficult journey I have ever undertaken; but it has been the most rewarding, the most life-giving.


The prayer of direction has kinship to many of the other ways of praying. It is definitely opening our hearts to God’s wisdom, God’s power, and God’s leadership in our lives. As we start out in the day, we go in a sense of His leadership. We move with the elemental energy which created the universe in the beginning and keeps re-creating it. We live and work and act with the benefit of the very Wisdom that runs the whole universe. We can grow from the finite minds we are to the infinite Mind that God is, until actually we see and feel and act, not with our wisdom, but with the wisdom and power and direction of God.

So we go into the day not on our own, but we go as channels through which God is working. Our hands, our minds, our eyes, everything we are and everything we possess are His. We seek His leadership and guidance in the little things of life as well as in the more difficult hours. Then we make fewer mistakes. We increasingly live without wasting energy, and we get maximum results from a minimum expenditure of energy.

As we grow in practicing the prayer of direction, we have many meaningful experiences. We are led to go places and do things at the right moment. If one prays truly the prayer of direction, then he is not on his own; the spirit and power and wisdom that guide the universe will begin to operate through him.

We pray in these ways when we are alone, and we pray in these ways in fellowship. We have the prayer of the group, the prayer of public worship, the prayer of the intimate group, and the prayer of the individual.

– Dr. Roy A. Burkhart, The Symphony of Prayer; Lord Teach us to Pray, 1963.
Dr. Burkhart was senior minister, First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio, 1935-1958.
His ministry was deeply focused on youth and family life.


Jesus:
“The sheep that are My own listen to My voice,
and I know them,
and they follow Me;
and I give them eternal life,
and they shall never at any time be lost,
and no one is able to snatch them out of My hands.
What My Father has endowed Me with is mightier than all;
and no one is able to wrest from the hand of My Father.
The Father and I are one.”

John 10:27-30,

The New Testament in Modern English,
translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton. Fourth Edition, 1906.

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RESURRECTION

RESURRECTION

All other revelations of God in humanity compared with (the resurrection of Christ Jesus) are as starlight which precedes the dawn. Not the vision of apostles alone, not the word of eye-witnesses on the great morning and during the “forty days;” but the consensus of Christendom for eighteen hundred years is cumulative evidence for the reappearings of Jesus (after the resurrection). The highest experiences and profoundest introversions of the purest and healthiest minds along this whole track of the centuries bring them into correspondency with the risen and glorified Saviour; not by open vision, but by signs and tokens quite as trustworthy.

When men have been turned from darkness to light, from the slavery of lust and sin to the joyous service of the living God; when the Divine Voice has come down upon the stormy seas of passion in the soul commanding audience, “still as night or summer’s noon-tide air;” when all its higher powers have been waked into life; faith, sympathy, disinterested love, tenderness towards God and towards everything that breathes; when the peace has come at last where storms and conflicts are no more; it has all been with the profoundest consciousness of a risen Saviour near at hand, with his assurance, “All power is given me both in heaven and upon the earth.” If the intuitions of the soul are to be appealed to, what are its shadowy gropings compared with these sun-bright beholdings of so many of the best and healthiest minds through a period of eighteen hundred years?

 – Edmund Sears, “The Reappearings of Jesus,”
The Fourth Gospel; The Heart of Christ, 1872.

Sears, an American Unitarian parish minister,
wrote the words for the Christmas carol
“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear”


Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Matthew 28: 16-20

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PROFOUND WONDER

Writings by those gifted with portraying the life of the spirit, sometimes border on poetry. Their work draws us in and enriches our perceptions – our understanding – our inner selves – our sense of satisfaction that we are part of a grand design. We belong.
Rufus M. Jones, the eminent Quaker academic, philosopher, activist, was one such writer.

As I prepare this blog post early in March, 2021, on the cusp of springtime, the celebration of Life renewed by Easter – Life Eternal is especially meaningful after so many confrontations of death during the past difficult year. The excerpts given here from one of Jones’ numerous books were written while WWI was raging, and countless tragedies unfolding in personal lives.

These thoughts sing with hope, joy, and promise. Life is ultimately confirmed and victorious.
– mjd


There is one thing which fills me with profound wonder … and that is the reawakening of the world in springtime. It seems some of these mornings almost as though we might hear the sons of God once more shouting for joy as they behold the new miracle of re-creation going on. … I am not surprised that men in all ages have taken this rebirth of the world in spring as a parable of a deeper rebirth. … That Power that guides the unfolding of the acorn and pushes up the oak, that Mind that brings the gorgeous butterfly out of the dull cocoon and raises it to its new and winged career, may well know how to “swallow up mortality with life” (II Corinthians 5:4) and bring us and ours to a higher stage of being. This new and greater miracle of another life beyond does not stagger us much after we have fully entered into the wonder of the spring. It is no more difficult to carry a soul safely over the bridge of death into the light and joy of a new world than it is to make a spring dandelion out of one of those strange winged seeds which a child carelessly blew away last summer.

As far as we are able to discover, the soul possesses infinite capacity. A blossom may reach its perfection in a day, but no one has fathomed the possibilities of a human heart. Eternity is not too vast for a soul to grow in, if the soul wills to grow.

“If a man die, shall he live again?” Our heart as well as our head seeks an answer. Knowing that such a hope is reasonable is not enough; we wish to feel that it is true. Here again God meets us, not only with an outward promise, or through the voices of nature, but with an inward conviction born of acquaintance with himself. We hear the answer when we first find him, but it grows as we learn to know him better. … “Learn of me,” said the Master (Jesus), “and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” (Matthew 11:29).

Yes, in this experience we even cease questioning. We know him and we trust. On his love we rest. Why should we reckon with the grave? Our Father this side shall be our Father beyond. We are trusting him here; we can trust him there.

Rufus M. Jones, The World Within, 1918.
More about Rufus M. Jones:
https://www.quakersintheworld.org/quakers-in-action/230/Rufus-Jones


For we know that even if our terrestrial home of this tent should be removed,
we possess a home, a building from God, not made by hand,
eternal in the heavens!

And indeed, we, while loaded in this tent, groan;
yet we do not wish to be stripped of it, but to be endowed,
so that this mortality may be swallowed up by that life.
But He Who enables us to work for this purpose is God,
Who gave us the pledge of the Spirit.

I Corinthians 5:1, 4-5

The New Testament in Modern English,
translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton, 1906

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UMBILICAL

Our ante-natal existence was a dependent and derived mode of being through the umbilical cord. When this was cut, we entered upon an existence independent of the maternal organism. But that spiritual something that answers to the umbilical attachment, and forever binds us to God, the Primal and Central Life, has never been severed. In Him we live, and move, and have our being. Our existence is, and ever will be, inclosed within the womb of Infinite Being. We can never be so born, or born again, as to be independent of Him. Because He lives, we live also. He is the true vine, we are the branches; but the immortal sap of a Divine Life circulates through the minutest twig and leaf of our tree of life. If we look to food, or medicine, or anything else, for life, we are searching for it where we shall never find it. Life in its highest sense is conscious or unconscious union with God.

 – Warren Felt Evans, The Divine Law of Cure, 1885


Jesus:
I am the true Vine, and My Father is the Cultivator.

I am the Vine; you are the branches.

Just as the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you:
continue in His love with Me.
If you keep My commands, you will continue in My love;
just as I have kept the commands of My Father,
and continue in His love.
I have spoken to you so that My delight may be in you
and your delight may be perfect [complete].
My command is this:
that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Stronger love has no one than this,
that one should lay down his own life for his friends.
You are My friends,
if you are doing what I am commanding you.

John 15:1; 5a; 9-13

The New Testament in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906
Translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton

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FAITH – COMMON SENSE

The principle of common sense, or the natural light which all men possess, is from the Divine Logos, or Word, the emanative sphere of the Divine Intellect. It has been variously denominated by different philosophers as instinct, intuition, feeling, belief, faith, inspiration, and revelation. … Faith is more than an intellectual belief. It is a mode of knowing. In its highest degree it is an intuition, an interior perception. … Whatever we feel to be true, we are compelled to believe. In this way we gain a knowledge of what is unattainable by sense. Thus, faith becomes the highest mode of knowledge. It is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

But by faith, we must always bear in mind, is not meant a cold, intellectual apprehension of the truth, but a feeling of the truth. This interior light, call it what you will,–common sense, the light of nature, instinct, intuition, impression, faith, the Divine Word that came to the prophets, a revelation, an inspiration, or even the Holy Spirit,–is the highest authority within us, and the divinest light for human guidance. … It is oftentimes, if we understood it aright, a prescription written by the finger of the Deity within us.

The revelation which we have in the depths of our own nature–the light and life of the eternal Word there–never grows old, and it is always there to be questioned according to our spiritual needs, and to be sought unto for guidance.

There is in the … inmost recesses, of all souls a region where a Divine Word will respond to our sincere craving for truth, and where Divine secrets hidden from the senses will be revealed to us.

 – Warren Felt Evans, The Divine Law of Cure, 1885


The WORD existed in the beginning,
and the WORD was with God,
and the WORD was God.
He was present with God at the beginning.
All came into existence by means of Him;
and nothing came into existence apart from Him.
That which originated in Him was Life;
and the Life was the Light of mankind.
That Light shines in the darkness;
but the darkness did not absorb it.
John 1: 1-5

The real Light was that which enlightens every man coming into the world.
John 1:9

Whosoever welcomed Him,
believing in His power,
He bestowed upon them the right to become children of God.
John 1:12

The New Testament in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906
Translated from the Greek by Ferrar Fenton

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LIFE

There is a very beautiful passage in the Hebrew sacred poetry expressive of the relation of the Divine life to the cure of all mental and bodily maladies: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed as the eagles.” (Psalm 103:2-5.)

So fully convinced was the great religious poet of the Hebrews that the Lord was the source and the “strength of our life” (Psalm 27:1) that he believed He (God) could save us from the most fatal epidemics,–from the pestilence that walketh in darkness, and from the destruction that wasteth at noonday. (Psalm 91:6) … So when a man attains to the consciousness of the immanence of God in his individual being, and that his “life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3), he is an incarnation of the Deity, a divine theophany, a manifestation
of God in the flesh. He is a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4), and thus is strengthened with might in the inner man (Ephesians 3:16)

The whole life of Jesus the Christ was the highest exemplification of the power of this idea ever witnessed in the history of the race, and a demonstration of its theoretical and practical truth. He cured diseases of mind and body by bringing men into conscious contact with the one and only Life. Thus we see that the higher forms of the religious life, and the state of mind and body which we designate by the name of health, are closely associated. The radical significance of the word religion is that of reunion, or a binding together of what has been sundered. When realized in its full import, it unites the body to the soul in a living correspondence, and consciously connects the soul with God in an influential sympathetic union. In this state of conjunction with the Lord of life, and the Father of spirits, the boundary line between our individual existence and the Divine Being becomes more dimly defined and each soul becomes in a degree a repetition of the Christ in another personality, and the answer of the prayer of Jesus is fulfilled, that we might become one with God as he and the Father were one. (John 17:21-23.) In this state we lay hold of eternal life; death is annihilated, and disease loses its reality. Our life is so linked with the Divine Being that because He lives we live also.

No one has life in himself, self-originated and underived, but it is the perpetual gift of God. It is also intuitively certain that the same is true of health. Vital force in its last analysis is the life of God in man, and every man can say, in the language of David, that the Lord is the “health of his countenance.” (Psalm 42:11 ; Psalm 43:5.)

  • excerpts, Warren Felt Evans, “The Scriptural Idea of Health and Disease,”
    The Divine Law of Cure, 1885
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BEGINNING

The New Year is a time for reflection, as thankfulness for the past and opportunities to come. This blog deals heavily with the inner life, the reality of God’s everlasting Presence. But what does this mean in the day-to-day world? What is the “how?” This quote from Horatio Dresser helps to bring it all down to earth, to our day-to-day human understanding. – mjd


The resulting practical impetus is the best evidence one can give of the sanity and value of (spiritual life and) experiences.

How shall one begin? Simply by starting with what is clear and letting the rest follow. Here you are, a human soul. Here is human life, loving, tender, sympathetic. Here is God, the All-Father: you believe in His presence, His guiding love and wisdom. Cling to this relationship, and lift the soul in responsiveness.

God is here in the common. Do not strain after Him. See Life in what you are passing through today, and let Life have its course. Be calm at the centre, that you may truly respond. Remember that the spiritual world is the more real world, is around us here and now. There is no space between, no time intervening. You are a spirit now, even in this apparently insignificant life-round. Do not postpone the highest and best.

But remember this. The soul sees quickly and far in the superior realm, assimilates power and wisdom without regard to time. … The flesh responds more slowly than the understanding. Therefore, when you have dwelt on the heights for a season, give mind and body time to respond. Do not push them. Do not think that you have fallen back or lost hold, even though the way is dark and you cannot see beyond physical sensation. Give yourself time to grow. Let yourself grow in Life’s way.

If you would help another, let love lead the way. The desire to help is a prayer for the power of spiritual healing. The silent, deeply poised attitude is dynamic. … There is guidance at hand for each step of the way. There is a “stream of tendency” or power. Pause and observe that you may learn whither the stream is flowing. Do not judge by the sensations. Live wholly in consciousness of the readjustments which Life is carrying forward. Trust Life and let your dynamic attitude be quickened by it, in guided co-operation.

Think of the Presence in the sense of vivifying power or energy, as quickening, life-giving. Consider what that Presence must be in itself, undisturbed at heart, in perfect peace, in ineffable composure, all-comprehending wisdom, all-sustaining love.… Then see the Spirit as going forth from its centre (which is everywhere, its circumference nowhere) in power-conveying activity or vibration, going forth into action to touch the hearts or spirits of men, imbuing them with love, guiding their minds with wisdom.

Having dwelt on the God-ward side for a time, turn to the human and see the spirit or soul in its integrity in the presence of this divinely perfect peace and composure, able to receive love and wisdom according to need.

Then put the two together.

The inward stillness or realization invites the presence.

– excerpts, Horatio W. Dresser, Spiritual Health and Healing, 1922.

 


Be still
and know
that I am God.
Psalm 46:10a

Thou wilt keep him in perfect (complete) peace,
whose mind is stayed on Thee:
because he trusteth in Thee.
Isaiah 26:3

In Him we live,
and move,
and have our being.
Acts 17:28

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WHOLENESS to HEALTH

… health is the natural right of every human soul. The presence of the Creator with us through the wisdom which guides and the love which sustains is for the sake of health, among ends of greater value than health itself. We ought therefore to judge by what God is endeavoring to quicken in us and produce through us, taking the whole of our life into account.

… it should not seem strange at all that a person may find his health spiritually by discovering his work in the world.

What if we were to seek directly that spiritual life which not only makes for permanent health but discloses the purpose for which we live? What if we should begin forthwith by doing this work which God calls us to do, whether it seems to make for health or not? This would be adopting in entire seriousness the promise that Christ came to bring the abundant life. It would imply firm belief in the spiritual law, namely, that we should first seek the kingdom of God and the righteousness pertaining to the kingdom before going in quest of the things which are to be added. It would be putting health on the spiritual basis, as a gift of the Spirit.

Horatio W. Dresser, Spiritual Health and Healing, 1922.


GOD Who saved me–I trust You,
and no more will dread!
For You, LORD, are my vigour and song, EVER-LIVING!
And You are a Saviour to me!

Isaiah 12:2

The Bible in Modern English, Fourth Edition, 1906
Ferrar Fenton, translator

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