Prayer versus Unanswered Prayer

"Prayer vs Unanswered Prayer" cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

“Prayer vs Unanswered Prayer” cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward

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I remember the day when I told myself to honestly weight things. Such as… have I ever really seen a real miracle? Have I ever witnessed a healing? Have I ever experienced a genuine answer to an important prayer?

If the answer is “no”, then as a pastor I knew exactly how to spin it. We’ve heard them all.

“Thank God for unanswered prayer!” (a rather humorous country song). “God always answers prayer, but in his way.” “One day is a thousand years to God. Just because it’s not answered today doesn’t mean it won’t be answered tomorrow!” “God heals the inside first and works his way out.” “God knows best!” “You didn’t pray correctly.” “You didn’t pray in accordance with God’s will.” “You didn’t have enough faith!”

Again, these are all spins. They are all ways of explaining unanswered prayer.

I’m not being mean. I’m sharing my story. My own process. This is a very crucial component of my spiritual deconstruction: simply being brutally honest with myself.

If you know what I’m talking about and want a community that understands, check us out!

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47 Responses

  1. Denise says:

    Thanks for sharing your story/process David – trust me, you aren’t being mean.

    I have had a rather interesting experience with prayer:

    Christians are told that we should draw close to god in prayer, pray earnestly, incessantly, petitioning god, meditating on his word and ways and so I would engage in intense prayer to experience this closeness, union and oneness with god only to eventually discover that this process was altering my brain chemistry.

    I eventually began to hallucinate, hear voices and experience thought insertions and automatic channelling as my mind began to dissociate. I of course thought that it was god who was communicating with me. I was however inducing mental illness in myself. I even became psychic and clairvoyant.

    On researching my experiences I discovered that when some persons engage in intense spiritual practices like intense prayer, meditation etc. it induces psychotic and psychic symptoms as I described above.

    This was when I realized that there ain’t no one listening to me when I prayed. I realized that I was just talking to myself when I thought I was communicating with god and in the process making myself sick and delusional. The intense prayers and meditation were just pushing my brain into a psychotic, psychic mode.

    I thought I was sharing my mind with a god my entire life and I suddenly realized that my thoughts were completely my own, no one was monitoring them, no one was compassionately listening to them.

    And yes, the various spins/ways of explaining unanswered prayer are nothing but Theological BS.

  2. Profoundly interesting Denise! Thanks for sharing that.

  3. Brigitte says:

    And yet, when something wonderful happens, or when in great need everybody says: “Oh my God!” Even Richard Dawkins. It pops right out of our souls. Gratitude is such an elevating thing. And laying bare your needs is also a wholesome activity. Sometimes we tell others, sometimes we tell ourselves, and sometimes we tell God/god/the universe/the numinous. It is a human thing to do.

  4. purvez says:

    @Denise, you sound convincingly atheistical (is that a word?) and I respect that.

    I am COMPLETELY ANTI RELIGIOUS…but I can’t help having the feeling that there is something ‘larger’ than ourselves out there.

    I definitely don’t mean a ‘compassionate, understanding, all knowing and all forgiving’ creature’ but something else…..maybe an equation or some other scientific ‘knowledge’ that we as yet haven’t got a handle on.

    I DO HOPE that I get to ‘get a glimpse’ of that ‘larger than ourselves’ thing before I kick this mortal bucket.

  5. Jordan says:

    Honestly, for believers, the act of prayer is more important than the result. The act is needed to assuage our deep anxieties. Spin it however ya want, but the fact remains as such – saying the prayer with the understanding that it might not be answered can be of more help than blindly saying, “Gd, please help me win the lottery.”

  6. Brigitte says:

    I agree with Jordan that just praying is helpful. We should realize that we won’t win the lottery, that God won’t be tested, that we should do our own hard work where we can and that lots of things have not been promised.

    Denise, I wonder what you mean by “intense prayer”, and changing brain chemistry? Personally, I don’t think I am a very good prayer person, or would call my prayers intense, but it amazes me how quickly prayer can focus me to come up with a plan of action. It does seem like answers. Also people who are able to go into a deep meditation, like Buddhist monks, have been shown to have beneficial changes to their brains. This has been widely publicized. I forget what the change is.

  7. Brigitte says:

    This is the story on the Buddhist monk brains: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646

  8. Caryn LeMur says:

    I love prayer! But… I guess I am not answer-centric… more experience-centric, I suppose.

    But then, I define prayer as being ‘all manner of prayer’…. and a sort of ‘touching base’ with the Spirit of God… pretty easy going, and just chit-chat.

    And yes, then I bring up some areas, and ask God to intervene and/or supply what is needed.

    By Bonnie’s count, I have nearly died 3 times. So, I am thankful for every day – each day is a wonderful gift! 🙂

    Indeed, I was handling the chain-saw the other day on a tough old dead tree (laying flat on the ground)… at the end of it, I was covered in sweat, cursing and smiling… and just thanking God that I could still enjoy that incredible experience – wicked noise, dripping sweat, saw dust hitting legs, padded gloves and ear plugs, and tossing the remains of the tree aside (and later into the fire pit).

    I had to move some cinder blocks. My strength has changed… and not for the better, lol. But one by one, I move them to the dolly, and then cart them over to the new fire pit. I had to take a break. But at the end, I was just praising God that I could still feel the elbows moving, the legs working, and the weight of the block in my hands.

    Prayer within thankfulness and humor… there are few things better for me.

    🙂

  9. Caryn: “not answer-centric”… i love that.

  10. Paul Empson says:

    Starting with the assumption that there is a ‘compassionate, understanding, all knowing and all forgiving’ creator’
    What is the point of prayer, or rather, what is the expectation we come to prayer with? If we are praying to get some thing or some result for ourselves or others, then absolutely be prepared for disappointment, but when prayer is just an ongoing conversation with the compassionate, understanding deity bubbling out of a growing relationship with the said deity then you don’t give a shit about the results because they are no longer the point. In my experience letting go of the need for answered prayers allowed me to see more clearly and know more deeply the one with whom I was conversing.

  11. Brigitte says:

    Thanks for telling of the tree cutting, Caryn. My husband has been at the same sort of thing, here, before the snow flies, but he would have never told it to me like this, though I can sense the satisfaction he gets.

  12. Denise says:

    Hello Brigitte,

    I’m not quite sure about the point which you are trying to make so I have some questions:

    “……it amazes me how quickly prayer can focus me to come up with a plan of action. It does seem like answers.”

    Is it you who came up with the plan of action or is it God who told you what the plan of action should be?
    ______

    “Also people who are able to go into a deep meditation, like Buddhist monks, have been shown to have beneficial changes to their brains.”

    According to the link which you provided – http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-12661646:

    ****”One thing that meditation does for those who practise it a lot is that it cultivates attentional skills,” Dr Josipovic says, adding that those harnessed skills can help lead to a more tranquil and happier way of being.

    “Meditation research, particularly in the last 10 years or so, has shown to be very promising because it points to an ability of the brain to change and optimise in a way we didn’t know previously was possible.”

    When one relaxes into a state of oneness, the neural networks in experienced practitioners change as they lower the psychological wall between themselves and their environments, Dr Josipovic says.

    And this reorganisation in the brain may lead to what some meditators claim to be a deep harmony between themselves and their surroundings.”****

    Is it God who is creating these attentional skills in the monks? Is it God who is reorganizing the monks’ brains during their mystical experiences to enable them to experience oneness/unifying consciousness with the world/their environment?

  13. Brigitte says:

    Is it God who puts the food on my plate? Everything that is good,is. A gift from God. It is really all the analysis I make. Can I enjoy it with thanksgiving? Then it is from God.

    So if someone gets deep into Buddist meditation, which I have not tried, but I have been guessing is a little bit like my knitting of repeat lace patterns (knit, yarn over, purl, two together, repeat… Over and over), if someone really gets into the yoga, and I have worried about, and they get into a deep tranquility… But they derive an innocent benefit from it, I am going with, it is a gift from God.

  14. Jordan says:

    Not answering what Brigitte has to say, but a rather good remark about the act of prayer and our overdependence on it sometimes.

    Citing Donniel Hartman’s “Putting God Second,” –
    A teacher of mine used to love to tell the story of a famous Hassidic master who was walking along a cobbled street in Eastern Europe some two hundred years ago, when he heard the cry of a baby coming from his student’s house—a cry that pierced the night. He rushed into the house and saw his student enraptured in prayer, swaying in pious devotion. The rabbi walked over to the baby, took her into his arms, sat down, and rocked her to sleep. When the student emerged from his prayers, he was shocked and embarrassed to find his master in his house, holding his baby. “Master,” he said, “what are you doing? Why are you here?” “I was walking in the street when I heard crying,” he responded, “so I followed it and found her alone.” “Master,” the student replied, “I was so engrossed in my prayers that I did not hear her.” The master replied, “My dear student, if praying makes one deaf to the cries of a child, there is something flawed in the prayer.”

  15. Denise says:

    Interesting response Brigitte:

    “Everything that is good,is. A gift from God.”

    But what about the bad things that happen? Are these bad things also gifts from God or should they be attributed to someone/something else as God is only responsible for the good things that happen?
    Indeed, according to James 1:17:
    “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” .

    So for example, in my case and that of other persons whose minds dissociate when we engage in intense/deep spiritual practices like intense/deep prayer, meditation, fasting etc and we hear voices, hallucinate, see visions, experience thought insertions, automatic channelling just like a spirit medium as well as other psychic phenomena (clairvoyance etc), and the mind dissociation makes some persons mentally and emotionally unstable; our minds enter an altered state of consciousness just like those of the Buddhist monks but in our case the altered state of our brains results in psychotic and psychic symptoms being induced (interestingly, some persons who are ignorant of how the human brain functions chalk up these experiences to demonic attack)………are these psychotic, psychic experiences which persons like myself experience a gift from God as well?

    Or is it only the good experience of the Buddhist monks who experience oneness and tranquility that is a gift from god?

    I note that the researcher in the article which you cited above was careful to choose Buddhist monks for his study and not just anyone as if he did the latter, there would be the possibility that he would encounter persons like myself whose minds dissociate during intense/deep meditation given that the biology of such persons predisposes them to this:

    * http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/dsm4/dsmrsproblem.pdf

    * http://www.spiritualcompetency.com/pdfs/lukoff1985dxmepf.pdf

    * http://www.sennederland.nl/Lukoff%20Naarden.pdf

    * http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1390356

    * https://www.researchgate.net/publication/21766069_Mysticism_and_psychosis_The_fate_of_Ben_Zoma

    * http://www.recoverybydiscovery.com/skiz.htm

    * https://www.google.ca/search?q=meditation+dissociative+state&oq=meditation+and+dissociat&aqs=mobile-gws-lite.3.0l5

    * https://www.google.ca/search?q=meditation+and+dissociation&oq=meditation+and+diss&aqs=mobile-gws-lite.0.0l5

    * http://culteducation.com/group/1250-brainwashing/997-bad-vibes.html

    * https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,102896

  16. Brigitte says:

    I will check out your links, Denise. My prayer life and church life us quite simple and sober, and also free of all Methodism and Pentecostalism, so I personally may not be able to relate to any of the things you mention.

  17. Brigitte says:

    Denise, I have looked at some of them, and I really don’t have any experiences with that sort of thing. As the resident confessional Lutheran (to some “fundamentalist”), I always try to orient myself by the revealed word. I may have my own ideas, but then I check them there. I don’t look for emotional or interior experiences, but try to deal with life as it comes. Prayer as such is a stabilizer not destabilizer. In terms of the Buddhist type thing, enlightenment and all that, I can’t say either. I have not looked for it. My hope is in Jesus Christ and that is just that, plain and simple, the way the Bible has it, and according to the promises that are actually given there, which are mostly for forgiveness of sins, as I keep saying like a broken record, here.

    Did you want to say something else about your own experience?

  18. Denise says:

    Hello Brigette,

    You stated:

    “I have looked at some of them, and I really don’t have any experiences with that sort of thing”

    but fortunately there are psychologists, mental health practitioners and others who do and I have benefitted greatly from their work, personal testimonies and the various articles/publications which they have produced –
    (for example, The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology;
    The Religious & Spiritual Problems category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association; The US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health PubMed.gov database of healthcare and scientific literature) –
    about the adverse psychological effects which can arise when persons engage in intense/deep spiritual practices such as intense/deep prayer, fasting and meditation which alter their state of consciousness.

    The work done by these psychologists/mental health practitioners helped me understand what was going on with my brain as I experienced psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena while engaging in intense/deep prayer and meditation over the years.

    I used to pray intensely just like Jesus did – Jesus prayed until his sweat turned into blood – and I used to seek isolation, spending time alone to meditate just like Jesus did, but eventually realized that all these things were hazardous to my mental health.

    I thought I was walking with god, drawing close to god, developing a close and personal relationship with God and achieving oneness and union/unity with God through prayer and meditation. I had the feeling that I had really connected with God and was in direct communion with him and that I and was in his presence and was having the most direct and immediate experience of God by becoming his living vessel, by ridding myself of selfish thoughts and going beyond self. I felt like I had transcended to a higher plane.

    I so believed that I was in direct contact with god to the point where one night while asleep, I was awakened by a vision of someone trying to speak to me. I didn’t hear the exact words which the person was trying to say, neither did I see their face, all I saw in the vision was just the darkened outline of the upper body of a person trying to speak with me. When I finally awoke in the morning, I concluded that it must have been god who was trying to tell me something as it couldn’t be otherwise given that I was a baptized Christian.

    I thereafter even came to the conclusion that this experience was showing me exactly how man was inspired by god to write the bible, it must have been showing me just how the holy spirit influenced the mind and thoughts of the men who wrote the bible. I even deluded myself with other explanations as I tried to fill in the blanks in an effort to figure out just what god was trying to say to me by means of this encounter/vision.

    I was always craving to connect with and to be close to god especially when I would see evil and selfishness in the world. I became intensely preoccupied with religion and spirituality, last days and end of the world themes. I had a sense of noesis, a conviction that knowledge hidden from others was being revealed to me by God and that I was chosen to be God’s agent.

    However, in all of this, what I was actually doing was self-inducing an altered state of consciousness/transcendent state, which in turn led to my mind dissociating with resultant psychotic and psychic manifestations. I also subsequently became aware that intense preoccupation with religion or spirituality and increased withdrawal/social isolation, spending significant time alone, which I would do in order to meditate and converse with god, were in fact symptoms of schizophrenia.

    I regret is that I didn’t realize what was happening to me sooner and do the research sooner to understand my experiences (at one point I thought that I needed an exorcism) as these adverse experiences led me down a path that has created much delusion, confusion, instability and loss of control of my life. It is obvious to me that I altered my brain significantly after years of intense/deep prayer and meditation and that as a result of these contributory experiences I was a high-functioning schizophrenic for a good portion of my life – there were things going on in my biology which predisposed me to being a depressive and a high-functioning schizophrenic but engaging in intense/deep prayer and meditation was only exacerbating this problem by altering my state of consciousness which precipitated the psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena which I experienced.
    Psychosis/most psychiatric illnesses often arise in adolescence or in early adult life however 75 per cent of children with mental health disorders/issues do not get the help they need – I fell into that 75 per cent, I was misdiagnosed by a doctor and then the self-induced trance-like altered state of consciousness induced by intense/deep meditation and prayer coupled with the theology about how prayer and God work in a Christian’s life (more on this below) just pushed me right over the edge.

    My failure to realize what was happening to my mind sooner, has to do with the fact that Christians are told that they must draw close to God in prayer and meditation, that they should walk with God and meditate upon his ways, develop a close and personal relationship with god and God will lead and direct them and they should trust god for his guidance because he will tell them what to do. God will work things out for them. Christians are told that they should lean heavily on god, throw all their burdens on god in petitionary prayer as they seek his help and guidance.

    Christians are taught that God is always intervening and manipulating affairs in the universe in favour of believers and to accomplish his will. Christians are taught that god works in mysterious ways and has a plan for their lives.

    Christians are taught that God speaks to people, instructs people, calls and chooses persons to do/accomplish his will, he sends persons into the lives of others to reveal some important information to them or help them in some other way. God will lead, guide and direct them, god will show them signs to guide and direct their lives. God will show his hand in a matter. Hearing from god is a key aspect of Christianity.

    Seeing things, hearing things and feeling things can be overwhelming. When this occurs against the back drop of Christianity, a person may think that the reason they are hearing something or seeing visions is a sign of some sort because they are supposed to do something, or are chosen somehow. This acts as a deterrent to a person realizing that something is wrong and that they need to get psychological help as these experiences make them feel that they are God’s agent, they are chosen and need to continue and reach the world with their message. And so a person’s mental health problems become masked and exacerbated by all the theological explanations about god and prayer on account of the sense of awe which a person feels regarding these matters.

    I discovered that mental health practitioners do wonder why religious delusions/hallucinations are so prominent in patients with serious mental health diagnoses, especially schizophrenia – why do the delusions/hallucinations experienced by these persons have a religious theme?:

    https://www.researchgate.net/post/Why_are_religious_delusions_and_hallucinations_so_prominent_in_patients_with_serious_mental_health_diagnoses_especially_schizophrenia

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22945191

    It is clear to me that the answer to the mental health practitioners’ question is also the same answer to the reason why I failed to realize what was happening to my mind sooner.

    You stated that:
    “Prayer as such is a stabilizer not destabilizer”.
    How exactly does prayer stabilize? What exactly is involved in this process?

    You also stated:
    “In terms of the Buddhist type thing, enlightenment and all that, I can’t say either. I have not looked for it. My hope is in Jesus Christ……….”

    Yet in a previous comment you stated:
    “So if someone gets deep into Buddist meditation, which I have not tried, but I have been guessing is a little bit like my knitting of repeat lace patterns (knit, yarn over, purl, two together, repeat… Over and over), if someone really gets into the yoga, and I have worried about, and they get into a deep tranquility… But they derive an innocent benefit from it, I am going with, it is a gift from God.”

  19. Brigitte says:

    Denise, I can’t quite make out whether you really would like to be in conversation, or if you just would like to brush all religion as mental illness. I could write you much more, but I am not sure that you will hear any of it.

    Everything is the world can have good uses and bad uses. And I have now met many progressives online who are anti-Christian, also see themselves as agents and have their own sorts of spiritual experiences. As I said my own spirituality is word-based and cognitive based. And external based: go to baptism, go to communion, say your prayers, read the Psalms, yes, do think about all that, as in meditation, sing songs, and enjoy all that realizing that you are indeed, as the promises declare, a dear, forgiven child of God, no strings attached. Those who want to go beyond that have traditionally been called “enthusiasts”, and orthodox Christians stay away from self-manufactured religion.

    About Buddhist meditation I know little. It may not be as wholesome as it looks. I am just trying to justify going to the local yoga class.

  20. Denise says:

    Yes Brigitte,

    It’s all my fault – I should never have followed Jesus’ example to pray intensely or his example to seek isolation to meditate and converse with God, or his advice to pray earnestly and incessantly or the Bible’s advice to draw close to God. It’s all my fault that I pushed myself over the edge by self-inducing an altered state of consciousness through intense/deep prayer and meditation. Pity the Bible doesn’t come with a disclaimer – why didn’t God just make it easy for persons and just provide up front information about the hazards of intense/deep prayer and meditation and that he doesn’t require persons to do that, EXCEPT JESUS?

    I honestly didn’t even know that intense/deep prayer and mediation were a bad thing. I had no idea that I was actually altering my state of consciousness and that my mind would dissociate as a result, manifesting psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena, when I engaged in intense/deep prayer and mediation as I honestly believed that I was connecting with God.

    I’m glad I found out that God does not speak to or lead or guide or direct me or put thoughts in my mind or show me signs whether I am in an altered state of consciousness/transcendent state or whether I am in an unaltered cognitive state.

    Pity I didn’t realize that Christianity is just tradition, ritual and culture (“go to baptism, go to communion, say your prayers, read the Psalms……….”)
    and that there is no God intervening in people’s lives ……….stupid me wanting to be close to God and having a personal relationship with him and looking to him for guidance and direction believing that he would tell me what to do.

    It certainly is good to have finally found out that Christianity is nothing more than just tradition, ritual and culture and that all the things which the Bible says about God and prayer are not true – God does not speak to or lead or guide or direct anyone or put thoughts in anyone’s mind or show them signs or speak to their heart or mind or tells them what to do or calls people or chooses people or has a plan for people’s lives whether they are in an altered state of consciousness/transcendent state or whether they are in an unaltered cognitive state. There is no God telling anybody anything, you have to figure things out yourself.

    OR perhaps I should ask you:
    Does God speak to or lead or guide or direct anyone or put thoughts in anyone’s mind or show them signs or speak to their heart or mind or tells them what to do when they are in an unaltered cognitive state?

    You stated:
    “Those who want to go beyond that have traditionally been called “enthusiasts”, and orthodox Christians stay away from self-manufactured religion”

    however please note that:

    – Everything which I have done regarding prayer and meditation are to be found in the Bible.

    – As I stated above:
    I honestly didn’t even know that intense/deep prayer and mediation were a bad thing. I had no idea that I was actually altering my state of consciousness and that my mind would dissociate as a result, manifesting psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena, when I engaged in intense/deep prayer and mediation as I honestly believed that I was connecting with God.

    It seems to me that you are also engaged in manufacturing religion by manufacturing your own version of Christianity by cherry picking, and mixing what is convenient.
    And while we are on the subject of being cognitive: a feature of normal cognition is a confirmation bias that allows us to be impervious to contradictory evidence and only notice information that confirms our pre-existing beliefs, hence the cherry picking, reinterpreting and mixing of what is convenient which has led to the approximately 40,000 Christian denominations and organizations in the world (Center for the Study of Global Christianity (CSGC) at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary).
    Yes, everybody manufactures their own version of religion.

    Based on your comments above regarding the Buddhists monks, it is clear/obvious that if I didn’t experience adverse effects when engaging in intense/deep prayer and meditation but instead experienced oneness and tranquility just like the Buddhist monks then for sure, you wouldn’t accuse me of being an unorthodox enthusiast engaging in self-manufactured religion.
    If I came on here with nothing but praise for intense/deep prayer and meditation claiming just how beneficial it is, then you would without a doubt be in favour of intense/deep prayer and meditation………you would be singing a different tune.

    I am still waiting to hear from you how exactly does prayer stabilize and what exactly is involved in that process?

  21. Brigitte says:

    Denise, I feel like I am going to be put down by you no matter what I say. I don’t accuse you of anything. I don’t even know you. I have not talked with people who seek to engage in “intense” prayer.

    I see nowhere in scripture to have “intense” prayer.

    The disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray and he gave them a very simple straightforward prayer of great profundity. Many words and great effort are not asked for, they are even prohibited. The Spirit even intercedes with a simple sigh.

    Jesus prayed and fasted and it says nothing else about that. Going into the desert for all that time was a bit drastic, but we have not been told to do anything like it. We need to pay attention in the Bible to was we, ourselves, are actually promised and commanded. Not every verse applies to me, and not every example is one to follow…

    If you want to call my conventional faith empty ritual, you have judged me. Ritual is a way to remind yourself regularly of what matters and what we believe together. It is the opposite of having your private, intense religion. It is stabilizing. And it puts you in community. And I don’t believe less not more because of liturgy and repeating things. It is a beautiful thing.

    You might check out Luther’s Small Catechism on line, it teaches the basics nicely, and I have memorized it, when I was older. Very stabilizing and grounding.

  22. Denise says:

    Brigitte:

    >>>>”I see nowhere in scripture to have “intense” prayer.”

    **Luke 22:44:

    “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground” ( New International Version)

    “He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood.”
    (New Living Translation)

    **Hannah’s Prayer for a Son, 1 Samuel 1:

    Heartbroken by her inability to conceive a child (and tormented by a rival who mocked her for it), Hannah turned to God in prayer so intensely that a priest who saw her thought she was drunk:

    “In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty , if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

    As she kept on praying to the Lord, [the high priest] Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”

    “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” — 1 Samuel 1 (NIV)

    Again, as I stated before, whether one prays intensely or does not pray intensely, God does not speak to or lead or guide or direct anyone or put thoughts in anyone’s mind or show them signs or speak to their heart or mind or tells them what to do or calls people or chooses people or has a plan for people’s lives.

    >>>>”We need to pay attention in the Bible to was we, ourselves, are actually promised and commanded. Not every verse applies to me, and not every example is one to follow…”

    How do we know which verses apply and which examples to follow?

    Doesn’t the Bible state that Jesus is our exemplar?:

    1 Corinthians 11:1:
    “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ”

    Matthew 16:24:
    “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”

    1 John 2:6:
    “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.”

    1 Peter 2:20-22:
    “…….For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…….”

    1 John 2:3-6:
    “This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.”

    >>>>”……….It is stabilizing. And it puts you in community……..”

    which seems to be the point of religion – being a part of a group to have your social needs met because in reality God does not socialize/communicate with anyone or tell anyone what to do. It is you yourself who has to figure things out for yourself or you may tap into your social network of fellow believers to assist you to do so.

  23. Brigitte says:

    Denise, I have no idea what you want, and I think I have explained enough. Again, I would highly recommend the small catechism to you, if you would like to get a grounding. The large catechism is also excellent reading and not very hard. I don’t really think that you actually are a Bible reader. You might actually read the NT all the way through, in a whole stretch. It is not that long. And then find me a place where it says that I am supposed to engage in “intense” prayer listening to voices. I think you shan’t find it.

  24. terrijo says:

    yes I see why I left this site a few months ago…….. Distressing. Ugh

  25. terrijo: I’m not sure what you mean by that. Could you explain?

  26. Denise says:

    Brigitte:

    “…….read the NT all the way through…….And then find me a place where it says that I am supposed to engage in “intense” prayer listening to voices. I think you shan’t find it.”

    Why just the NT why not the OT as well?

    Why did Jesus who is our exemplar engage in intense prayer (Luke 22:44) if that’s a bad thing for his followers to do/ or something which his followers are not supposed to do?

    In a previous comment you stated:
    “……it amazes me how quickly prayer can focus me to come up with a plan of action. It does seem like answers.”

    Again I ask you:
    Is it you who came up with the plan of action or is it God who told you what the plan of action should be?

  27. Caryn LeMur says:

    Dennis: I read what you wrote with interest. Thank you for explaining how the intense style of prayer did you damage.

    I recall how that intensely attending multiple Charismatic church services was wonderful for a time (I was 18 to 19 years old at the time), and how I started seeing visions and having insights. Later, I abandoned the severe attendance, and my world quickly changed back to much more normal.

    So, I can see how intense prayer could also be damaging.

    Denise, you wrote, “Does God speak to or lead or guide or direct anyone or put thoughts in anyone’s mind or show them signs or speak to their heart or mind or tells them what to do when they are in an unaltered cognitive state?”

    For me, the answer is ‘yes’, and quite often.

    As I wrote earlier, I am not answer-centric. However, I pray as a ‘matter of course’ about complex business problems, or security issues (my job is computer security). I ask God for insight and understanding. I then return to doing my normal tasks at work (and later, at home).

    In an hour or two, sometimes a day or two, an answer pops into my head.

    I actually do thank God for the insight. I then can propose a business solution or security solution (I often write reports that are asking for my advice).

    Did the insight come from me, or from God, or from a blend of the two? I shall never know.

    But, again for me, a small amount of religious ‘wine’ throughout the day works quite well. It brings me peace and balance.

    It seems, from what you wrote, that any religious ‘alcohol’ for you, just pushes you over the edge. And, because of my experience with extreme church attendance (years ago), I hear you.

    So, I think that you and I are quite different people.

    And I think, that is ok.

  28. Brigitte says:

    You can read the entire OT, as well, Denise. You also will not find the OT congregation addressed and instructed for people to go off by themselves to have “intense” prayer and listen to voices. Some of the faithful find themselves in distressing situations and pray pretty deep prayers. Some of that also happens to everyone. As we hear said in foxholes there are no atheists. When I am not in a foxhole, I don’t go to have some distressing experience. Life does present them, though, to everyone, and yes, we may end up praying a little harder, but that is not the same as trying to have an experience.

    It’s like falling love. That gets pretty intense. But we can’t make ourselves do it or force the situation. Most of the time, we are just trying to live a civilized, caring, life together. Which is great, too.

    When I said I pray and it focuses me and I come up with a plan of action, and that seems like an answer, does that sound like intense prayer, or the hearing of voices, or like I can’t change my mind, for one reason or another? Sometimes I pray and I come up with a plan of action and it turns out to be a bad decision. Don’t we all have plenty of regrets. Yes, I see that is where some go off and blame God. But no, I don’t think that God has talked in my head and given me plain instructions to be followed robotically. And so I don’t blame him either.

  29. Denise says:

    Hello Caryn M.,

    I appreciate your honesty:
    “…..Did the insight come from me, or from God, or from a blend of the two? I shall never know…..”

    “It seems, from what you wrote, that any religious ‘alcohol’ for you, just pushes you over the edge.”
    You may be on to something there.
    I engaged in intense prayer and meditation for quite a few years from adolescence on into adulthood and it seems to me that I succeeded in altering my brain’s neurophysiology/chemistry significantly to the point where I could make a living from being a psychic or a spirit medium. It seems my brain has been in an altered, dissociated state for a good while – as I stated earlier, I have been a high-functioning schizophrenic for a good portion of my life.

    It seems the world is made up of:
    – persons who enter a mystical state and experience oneness and tranquility
    – persons who have adverse reactions as their minds dissociate resulting in their experiencing psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena

    when they engage in intense prayer and meditation. The work done by psychologists/mental health practitioners/neuroscientists indicate that intense/deep prayer and meditation trigger different responses in people as per the various references which I provided in my previous comments. It seems the different responses have something to do with what is going on in a person’s biology.

    I wonder if there are any pastors who tell their congregants that intense prayer and meditation could be bad for them? Would they tell their congregation: “Pray but don’t pray intensely. Meditate but don’t meditate intensely”? (based on what I have read, meditation is not just musing, it involves intense concentration).

    Telling persons that they shouldn’t pray intensely implies that God doesn’t listen to or answer intense prayers, God only listens to or answers non-intense prayers, which certainly sounds absurd. There is also the implication that God only listens to and responds to persons who are in an unaltered state of consciousness/unaltered cognitive state but is this actually the case?

    There have been persons in the Bible who, while praying, fell into a trance – an altered state of consciousness – and heard voices (emphasis is mine in the following scriptures):

    Acts 22:17-21:
    “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and WAS PRAYING at the temple, I FELL INTO A TRANCE AND SAW THE LORD SPEAKING TO ME. ‘Quick!’ he said.‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
    “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ “THEN THE LORD SAID TO ME, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

    Acts 10:9-23:
    “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour TO PRAY. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, HE FELL INTO A TRANCE; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A VOICE CAME TO HIM, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” AGAIN A VOICE CAME TO HIM A SECOND TIME, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” THIS HAPPENED THREE TIMES, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the VISION which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the VISION, THE SPIRIT SAID TO HIM, “Behold, three men are looking for you. “But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, WAS DIVINELY DIRECTED BY A HOLY ANGEL to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.

    Acts 11:4-18:
    “But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, “I WAS IN THE CITY OF JOPPA PRAYING; AND IN A TRANCE I SAW A VISION, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air.
    “I ALSO HEARD A VOICE SAYING to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ “BUT A VOICE FROM HEAVEN ANSWERED A SECOND TIME, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ “THIS HAPPENED THREE TIMES, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. “And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. “THE SPIRIT TOLD ME TO go with them without misgivings These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. “And he reported to us how he HAD SEEN THE ANGEL STANDING IN HIS HOUSE, AND SAYING, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ “And as I began to speak, THE HOLY SPIRIT FELL UPON THEM JUST AS HE DID UPON US AT THE BEGINNING. “And I REMEMBERED THE WORD OF THE LORD, HOW HE USED TO SAY, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

    Given these Biblical examples, how does a pastor tell persons that they are not supposed to pray intensely or pray to the point of falling into a trance – an altered state of consciousness?

    These Biblical examples also show that God listens to and responds to prayers from persons who are in a trance – an altered state of consciousness. The question of course is: how does a person like me who is experiencing psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena while in an altered state of consciousness know whether or not it is god who is communicating with them? Does god make it explicitly, unambiguously clear which of the person’s thoughts or which of the things that person hears or sees are coming from him or which of these things are just the result of the unconscious dynamics of the person’s brain?

  30. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d:

    For the record, I wasn’t a part of a charismatic religion when I experienced adverse psychological reactions to intense prayer and meditation.
    I note that controversy surrounds whether or not the charismatic spiritual gifts and dreams/visions from God are still in effect.

    I was a part of a religion which puts a lot of emphasis on the last days, the end of the world and the operation of God’s Holy Spirit. There is a preoccupation with the belief that just about everything around us is Satanic and demonic except the religion of course. This is Satan’s world, Satan’s system of things – 1 John 5:19 is an often repeated scripture in this religion:
    “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”

    This religion teaches that:

    We must flee from the Devil and draw close to God, we must be no part of the world.
    (James 4:7, John 15:19, John 17:15-17).
    We must draw close to God and develop a personal, intimate relationship with him and really get to know him by meditating on his word and his ways:

    Psalm 119:78-148 (meditate all day and even at night)
    Psalm 1:1-3 (meditate all day and even at night)
    Psalm 46:10
    Psalm 19:14
    Psalm 104:34
    Philippians 4:8
    2 Timothy 2:7
    Psalm 16:8
    Psalm 63:6
    Psalm 119:15-16
    Joshua 1:8
    Psalm 77:12
    Psalm 111:2
    Psalm 143:5
    Psalm 145:5
    Psalm 8:1-9
    Psalm 104:1-34
    Proverbs 6:6
    Matthew 6:26-30
    Luke 12:24-27
    Psalm 16:7
    Psalm 42:8
    Job 22:22
    Psalm 39:3
    Luke 2:19
    Acts 8:27-35
    Psalm 119:11,55
    Genesis 24:63
    Psalm 4:4
    1 Timothy 4:15

    We must draw close to God in prayer (Deuteronomy 4:7: “The Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him), develop a personal intimate relationship with God by talking to him in prayer making our petitions along with thanksgiving known to him:
    Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV):
    “Do not be anxious about anything,but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

    We should pour out our hearts to god in prayer:
    Psalm 62:8:
    “Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

    Throw all our burdens/anxieties/cares on God because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

    Psalm 55:22 (NASB):
    “Cast your burden upon theLord and He will sustain you;
    He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.”

    Make the time to be alone with God to talk with him in prayer just like Jesus did.

    One elder told me that he would wake up early in the morning while his family is still asleep so that he could spend time alone with God, meditating and talking to him and told me that I need to do similarly in order to strengthen my relationship with God:

    Mark 1:35 (NIV): “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

    Mark 6:46 (RSV): “And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.”

    Luke 6:12 (NIV): “One of those days Jesus went out into the hills to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”

    Luke 22:45-46 (NIV): “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep…..”

    Luke 5:15-16: “…..But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.”

    Matthew 14:23:
    “After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone.”

    Matthew 26:39:
    “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying…….”

    We should:
    -Pray earnest, deep, sincere, heart felt prayers ( Luke 22:44, 1 Samuel 1 – examples of Jesus and Hannah).
    -Pray incessantly/without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19, Psalm 55:17,22)
    -Devote ourselves to prayer (Acts 1:14, Colossians 4:2).
    -Prayer is powerful and effective (James 5:16).
    -Persevere in prayer:
    Matthew 7:7:
    “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

    Luke 18:1-18:
    “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up………”

    -Talk to God walk with him every minute of the day:
    Ephesians 6:18 (RSV):
    “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints”.

  31. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d:

    I note that controversy surrounds whether or not the charismatic spiritual gifts and dreams/visions from God are still in effect.

    Barring the controversy, what I do understand from the Bible and was taught by my former religion is that God/his holy spirit inserts thoughts into peoples minds, tells them things/tells them what to do, leads them, guides them, directs them (emphasis is mine in scriptures that follow):

    Acts 13:2:
    “WHILE THEY WERE MINISTERING TO THE LORD AND FASTING, THE HOLY SPIRIT SAID, “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

    Acts 13:4:
    “So, BEING SENT OUT BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.”

    Acts 10:3-6:
    “ABOUT THE NINTH HOUR OF THE DAY HE CLEARLY SAW IN A VISION AN ANGEL OF GOD WHO HAD JUST COME IN AND SAID TO HIM, “CORNELIUS!” AND FIXING HIS GAZE ON HIM AND BEING MUCH ALARMED, HE SAID, “WHAT IS IT, LORD?” AND HE SAID TO HIM, “YOUR PRAYERS AND ALMS HAVE ASCENDED AS A MEMORIAL BEFORE GOD. “Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter; he is staying with a tanner named Simon, whose house is by the sea.”

    Acts 10:19-20:
    “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, THE SPIRIT SAID TO HIM, “Behold, three men are looking for you. “But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” ”

    Acts 11:5-9:
    “I WAS IN THE CITY OF JOPPA PRAYING; AND IN A TRANCE I SAW A VISION, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. I ALSO HEARD A VOICE SAYING TO ME, ‘GET UP, PETER; KILL AND EAT.’ “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ “BUT A VOICE FROM HEAVEN ANSWERED A SECOND TIME, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’

    Acts 11:12:
    “THE SPIRIT TOLD ME TO go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house”.

    Acts 22:17-21:
    “When I returned to Jerusalem and WAS PRAYING at the temple, I FELL INTO A TRANCE AND SAW THE LORD SPEAKING TO ME. ‘Quick!’ he said.‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
    “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ “THEN THE LORD SAID TO ME, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

    Luke 2:25-28:
    “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS ON HIM. IT HAD BEEN REVEALED TO HIM BY THE HOLY SPIRIT that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. MOVED BY THE SPIRIT, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying…….”

    John 16:13-14 (NIV):
    “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, HE WILL GUIDE YOU into all the truth. He will not SPEAK on his own; he will SPEAK only what he hears, and he will TELL YOU what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive WHAT HE WILL MAKE KNOWN TO YOU.”

    John 14:16-18, 26:
    “And I will ask the Father, and HE WILL GIVE YOU ANOTHER ADVOCATE TO HELP YOU AND BE WITH YOU FOREVER — THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
    But THE ADVOCATE, THE HOLY SPIRIT, WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS AND WILL REMIND YOU OF EVERYTHING I HAVE SAID TO YOU.”

    Luke 11:13 (NIV):
    “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN GIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT TO THOSE WHO ASK HIM!”

    2 Corinthians 1:22 (NLT):
    “he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.”

    Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV):
    “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, WORDS MAY BE GIVEN ME so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”

    Mark 13:11:
    “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but SAY WHATEVER IS GIVEN YOU IN THAT HOUR; FOR IT IS NOT YOU WHO SPEAK, BUT IT IS THE HOLY SPIRIT.”

    Luke 12:11-12 (NIV)
    “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TEACH YOU AT THAT TIME WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY.”

    Matthew 10:18-20 (NIV):
    “On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT TO SAY OR HOW TO SAY IT. AT THAT TIME YOU WILL BE GIVEN WHAT TO SAY, FOR IT WILL NOT BE YOU SPEAKING, BUT THE SPIRIT OF YOUR FATHER SPEAKING THROUGH YOU.”

    Exodus 33:9:
    “Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and THE LORD WOULD SPEAK WITH MOSES.”

    Luke 4:1(NIV)
    “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was LED BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness.”

    Matthew 4:1:
    “Then Jesus was LED UP BY THE SPIRIT into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”

    Mark 1:12:
    “Immediately THE SPIRIT IMPELLED HIM TO GO out into the wilderness.”

    1 Kings 18:12:
    “It will come about when I leave you that THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD WILL CARRY YOU WHERE I DO NOT KNOW; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth.”

    Psalm 139:7-10:
    WHERE CAN I GO FROM YOUR SPIRIT? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there YOUR HAND WILL LEAD ME, AND YOUR RIGHT HAND WILL LAY HOLD OF ME.

    Romans 8:14:
    “For ALL WHO ARE BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD, these are sons of God.”

    Galatians 5:18:
    “But IF YOU ARE LED BY THE SPIRIT, you are not under the Law.”

    Isaiah 59:21:
    “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the LORD: “My Spirit which is upon you, and MY WORDS WHICH I HAVE PUT IN YOUR MOUTH SHALL NOT DEPART FROM YOUR MOUTH, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the LORD, “from now and forever.”

    Acts 8:26, 29:
    “BUT AN ANGEL OF THE LORD SPOKE TO PHILIP SAYING, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). Then THE SPIRIT SAID TO PHILIP, “Go up and join this chariot.”

    1 Corinthians 2:13:
    “Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, BUT IN THOSE TAUGHT BY THE SPIRIT, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.”

  32. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d.-3

    Exodus 31:1-6:
    “Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him……”

    Acts 16:6-10
    “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, HAVING BEEN FORBIDDEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO SPEAK the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and THE SPIRIT OF JESUS DID NOT PERMIT THEM.
    So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night PAUL HAD A VISION of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” AFTER PAUL HAD SEEN THE VISION, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, CONCLUDING THAT GOD HAD CALLED US to preach the gospel to them.”

    Acts 20:22:
    “And now, behold, BOUND BY THE SPIRIT, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there.”

    Acts 22:17-21:
    “It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and WAS PRAYING at the temple, I FELL INTO A TRANCE AND SAW THE LORD SPEAKING TO ME. ‘Quick!’ he said.‘Leave Jerusalem immediately, because the people here will not accept your testimony about me.’
    “‘Lord,’ I replied, ‘these people know that I went from one synagogue to another to imprison and beat those who believe in you. And when the blood of your martyr Stephen was shed, I stood there giving my approval and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.’ “THEN THE LORD SAID TO ME, ‘Go; I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’ ”

    Acts 10:9-23:
    “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour TO PRAY. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, HE FELL INTO A TRANCE; and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A VOICE CAME TO HIM, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean.” AGAIN A VOICE CAME TO HIM A SECOND TIME, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” THIS HAPPENED THREE TIMES, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky. Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the VISION which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate; and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there. While Peter was reflecting on the VISION, THE SPIRIT SAID TO HIM, “Behold, three men are looking for you. “But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” Peter went down to the men and said, “Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?” They said, “Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, WAS DIVINELY DIRECTED BY A HOLY ANGEL to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you.” So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him.”

    1 Samuel 3:8-17, 21:
    “Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
    The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
    Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
    And the Lord said to Samuel…….
    “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.”……..
    Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

  33. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d-4:

    Acts 11:4-18:
    “But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, “I WAS IN THE CITY OF JOPPA PRAYING; AND IN A TRANCE I SAW A VISION, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air.
    “I ALSO HEARD A VOICE SAYING to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ “But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ “BUT A VOICE FROM HEAVEN ANSWERED A SECOND TIME, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ “THIS HAPPENED THREE TIMES, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. “And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. “THE SPIRIT TOLD ME TO go with them without misgivings These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. “And he reported to us how he HAD SEEN THE ANGEL STANDING IN HIS HOUSE, AND SAYING, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ “And as I began to speak, THE HOLY SPIRIT FELL UPON THEM JUST AS HE DID UPON US AT THE BEGINNING. “And I REMEMBERED THE WORD OF THE LORD, HOW HE USED TO SAY, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

    1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NIV)
    “However, as it is written:
    “What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
    and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—
    THESE ARE THE THINGS GOD HAS REVEALED TO US BY HIS SPIRIT.
    The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

    Exodus 33:12-16
    Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people!’ But You Yourself have not let me know whom You will send with me Moreover, You have said, ‘I have known you by name, and you have also found favor in My sight.’ “Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight Consider too, that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here. “For how then can it be known that I have found favor in Your sight, I and Your people? Is it not by Your going with us, so that we, I and Your people, may be distinguished from all the other people who are upon the face of the earth?”

    Acts 5:19-20:
    “But during the night AN ANGEL OF THE LORD opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” HE SAID, “and tell the people all about this new life.” ”

    Psalm 31:3:
    “For You are my rock and my fortress; For Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me.”

    Ezekiel 20:1-3:
    “Now in the seventh year, in the fifth month, on the tenth of the month, certain of THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL CAME TO INQUIRE OF THE LORD, and sat before me. AND THE WORD OF THE LORD CAME TO ME SAYING, “Son of man, speak to the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Do you come to inquire of Me? As I live,” declares the Lord GOD, “I will not be inquired of by you.” ”

    Psalm 143:10:
    “Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; LET YOUR GOOD SPIRIT LEAD ME on level ground”.

    1 John 2:26-27:
    “These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.”

    Genesis 40:5-8:
    “Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it ” Then Joseph said to them, “DO NOT INTERPRETATIONS BELONG TO GOD? Tell it to me, please.” ”

    Romans 8:16:
    “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”.

    Ezekiel 37:1:
    “The hand of the LORD was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.”

    Isaiah 48:16:
    “Come near to Me, listen to this: From the first I have not spoken in secret, From the time it took place, I was there And now the Lord GOD has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

    Acts 15:28:
    “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials”.

    Revelation 4:1-2 (NIV):
    “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.”

    Revelation 17:3:
    “And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness; and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names, having seven heads and ten horns.”

    Revelation 21:10:
    “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,”

    Acts 9:10:
    Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and THE LORD SAID TO HIM IN A VISION, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”

    Acts 1:16:
    “Brethren, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit foretold by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus.”

    Acts 28:25:
    “And when they did not agree with one another, they began leaving after Paul had spoken one parting word, “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,”

    Amos 3:7:
    “Surely the Lord GOD does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.”

    1 Corinthians 2:10:
    “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.”

    Numbers 24:2-4, 13,16:
    And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him. He took up his discourse and said, “The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened; the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty………….
    I must say only what the Lord says’’…………… the prophecy of one who hears the words of God,
    who has knowledge from the Most High,
    who sees a vision from the Almighty,”

    1 Samuel 19:19-24
    It was told Saul, saying, “Behold, David is at Naioth in Ramah.” Then Saul sent messengers to take David, but when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing and presiding over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul; and they also prophesied. When it was told Saul, he sent other messengers, and they also prophesied. So Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they also prophesied.Then he himself went to Ramah and came as far as the large well that is in Secu; and he asked and said, “Where are Samuel and David?” And someone said, “Behold, they are at Naioth in Ramah.” He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

    Judges 14:6
    The Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily, so that he tore him as one tears a young goat though he had nothing in his hand; but he did not tell his father or mother what he had done.

    Judges 15:14
    When he came to Lehi, the Philistines shouted as they met him. And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him mightily so that the ropes that were on his arms were as flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds dropped from his hands.

    1 Kings 18:46
    Then the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he girded up his loins and outran Ahab to Jezreel.

    Ezekiel 2:2:
    As He spoke to me the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet; and I heard Him speaking to me.

  34. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d-5:

    Hebrews 3:7:
    So, as THE HOLY SPIRIT SAYS: “Today, if you hear his voice”

    Hebrews 9:8 (NLT)
    By these regulations THE HOLY SPIRIT REVEALED that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use.

    2 Samuel 23:2
    “The SPIRIT OF THE LORD SPOKE BY ME, And HIS WORD WAS ON MY TONGUE.

    Hebrews 10:15, 17:
    “The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First HE SAYS…… Then HE ADDS….”

    Mark 12:36 (NLT)
    For David himself, speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said….

    Nehemiah 7:5 ESV:
    “Then my GOD PUT IT INTO MY HEART to assemble the nobles and the officials and the people to be enrolled by genealogy. And I found the book of the genealogy of those who came up at the first, and I found written in it”.

    Revelation 17:17 NLV:
    GOD PUT IN THEIR MINDS a plan that would carry out His desire. They will agree to give their nation to the red wild animal until the words of God have been completed.

    Revelation 17:17 NLT:
    For GOD HAS PUT A PLAN INTO THEIR MINDS, a plan that will carry out his purposes. They will agree to give their authority to the scarlet beast, and so the words of God will be fulfilled.

    So according to the foregoing scriptures God/his Holy Spirit actually speaks to persons and inserts thoughts into their minds. It is for this reason that there are those who insist that the thought insertions which they experience as answers to prayers etc. are done by God:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25999778
    “God put a thought into my mind: the charismatic Christian experience of receiving communications from God.”

    My former religion also taught that:

    * God will manipulate events and show his hand in a matter when we pray:

    -Isaiah 59:1 ESV:
    “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear”.

    -Numbers 11:23 NIV:
    “The LORD answered Moses, “Is the LORD’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” ”

    * We should wait on god to work things out for us. We should depend on his timing as his timing is always right and best:

    -Isaiah 40:31
    -Psalm 27:13-14
    -Proverbs 3:5-6
    -Lamentations 3:25
    -James 5:7-8
    -2 Peter 3:9
    -Isaiah 30:18
    -Romans 5:3-4
    -Psalm 33:20-22
    -James 5:11
    -Psalm 130:5-6
    -Psalm 27:14
    -Psalm 37:34
    – Micah 7:7
    – Psalm 62:1,5,8
    – Psalm 40:1-17
    – Habakkuk 2:1-3
    – Isaiah 64:4
    – Colossians 1:11
    – Matthew 6:34
    – Psalm 27:1-14
    – Psalm 25:4-5
    – Psalm 37:9
    – Romans 8:18
    – Psalm 37:7
    -1 Peter 1:22-25
    – Philippians 1:6
    – Psalm 123:1-2
    – Psalm 37:3
    – Proverbs 20:22
    – Malachi 3:11
    – Hebrews 11:1
    – Matthew 6:33
    – Psalm 40:1
    -Hebrews 12:1-3
    – Zephaniah 3:8
    -Habakkuk 2:3
    – 2 Peter 3:8
    – 1 Peter 5:6, 10
    – James 1:1-8
    – Isaiah 26:3-4
    – 1 Corinthians 10:13
    -Philippians 4:6,7
    -Proverbs 16:3

  35. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d-6:

    * God shows people signs:

    -Judges 6: the story of Gideon

    -Exodus 28, Numbers 27: the use of the Urim and Thummim by the high priests in ancient Israel to enquire of God

    -Casting of lots:
    Proverbs 16:33
    Jonah 1:7
    Acts 1:26
    1 Samuel 14:36-42

    * God sends people or angels into other persons’ lives to help them in some way:

    -Acts 8:26, 29:
    “BUT AN ANGEL OF THE LORD SPOKE TO PHILIP SAYING, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road). Then THE SPIRIT SAID TO PHILIP, “Go up and join this chariot.”

    -Acts 5:19-20:
    “But during the night AN ANGEL OF THE LORD opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” HE SAID, “and tell the people all about this new life.” ”

    * God uses persons as his agents to accomplish his will:
    -Genesis: the story of Joseph
    -Pharaoh
    -the king of Assyria
    -Nebuchadnezzar
    -Cyrus the Persian
    -2 Kings 5: the little captive Israelite girl who waited on Naaman’s wife

    * God calls/chooses people to accomplish his will:

    -Acts 9:15
    -1 Corinthians 1:26-29;
    -Colossians 2:18
    -Romans 8:16
    -Acts 16:6-10:
    “They passed through the Phrygian and Galatian region, HAVING BEEN FORBIDDEN BY THE HOLY SPIRIT TO SPEAK the word in Asia; and after they came to Mysia, they were trying to go into Bithynia, and THE SPIRIT OF JESUS DID NOT PERMIT THEM.
    So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night PAUL HAD A VISION of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” AFTER PAUL HAD SEEN THE VISION, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, CONCLUDING THAT GOD HAD CALLED US to preach the gospel to them.”

    -Romans 8:28 (NLT):
    And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

    -Exodus 31:1-6:
    “Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him……”

    -1 Samuel 3:8-17, 21:
    “Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
    The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
    Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
    And the Lord said to Samuel…….
    “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.”……..
    Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

    -Galatians 1:15
    “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace,”.

    * Other Christian teachings emphasized by other religions:

    -God has a plan for people’s lives:
    Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

  36. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d-7:

    All these scriptures/Biblical teachings created a problem for me as over the years when I would experience psychotic symptoms and psychic phenomena as a result of intense/deep prayer and meditation, I actually thought that God was trying to show me a sign or tell me something or he was leading me in a particular direction.

    Based on what the Bible states and what I was taught, I truly believed that God was leading me and that he confirmed that he was leading me by means of the precognitions/clairvoyant experiences which I had and which did come true in many instances. Whenever a precognition did come true I would tell myself that this is how god is confirming to me that he is leading me and this is the direction in which I must go, I am doing exactly what God wants me to do. I really thought that I was experiencing God but in all of this I was just going down a path which has created much delusion, confusion, instability and loss of control of my life.

    It seems to me that God needs to be up front, explicit, unambiguous, clear and direct and tell persons when it is just the unconscious dynamics of their brains at work or when it is actually him who is trying to show them a sign or tell them something/communicate with them. God needs to make this process easier for persons, it would be very helpful if a person didn’t have to be guessing: is it me or is it God?

    Some musings about the controversy surrounding the cessation/continuation of the charismatic gifts and dreams/visions from God:

    – Some believe that God no longer shows people signs by means of dreams/visions but nevertheless believe that God answers prayers which seems to suggest that although God is no longer giving persons dreams/visions or speaking directly to them he will nevertheless insert thoughts into their minds or the minds of others when answering prayers. I find that to be interesting if that is how it really works.

    If it is that God is inserting thoughts into a person’s mind how does the person know whether the thought insertions are from God or whether they are just as a result of the unconscious dynamics of the person’s brain? Does god clearly, explicitly and unambiguously indicate what is going on up front or does the person have to figure out: is it me or is it god?

    – Some persons maintain that God does not in this age to humans through dreams, visions or any direct communication apart from the Word of God and that the Bible is all sufficient in directing a person to finding and carrying out the will of God for their lives, without the need of a dream, vision or special communication from God in that manner. If this is the case then I can only conclude that THERE IS NO NEED TO PRAY since God is not going to answer you – all you now have to do is to just read the Bible and then try to figure out what you should do.

    So much for my musings.

    Being able to express myself here has been cathartic. I have had to be doing a lot of self-therapy to rescue my brain from the adverse psychological experiences which I have had as a result of intense prayer and meditation. I am trying to move on and close the chapter on this unpleasant experience.

    Regards and all the best.

  37. Brigitte says:

    I wish you peace, Denise. But realize that most of your Bible references are accounts of prophets, apostles and Jesus, whom we call the Son of God. They are no command for you.

    Reading the Bible and thinking about it, is really the meditation you want. Prayer is a little more, as you will use your own thoughts to formulate your own needs. And you are expressing your dependence on God, which can give you peace and rest. And worship still is a very joyful thing, even if not charismatic, and even if it looks serious. There is a serious kind of joy that is very deep, and flows from the word.

  38. Denise says:

    Thanks for the disclaimer Brigitte!

    I finally understand the Bible and Christianity at last!

    Peace to you too.

  39. Brigitte says:

    Anyone who would like to inquire about Christianity should find himself an approved catechist, not a self-made cult-leader, to make a good start. It’s a bit like finding a proper doctor or a questionable herbalist. (A herbalist may have some things right, as some herbs are medicinal, but…). There. That’s a disclaimer.

  40. Caryn LeMur says:

    Denise: thank you for the several posts.

    I had not looked at the Bible with that particular slant (or emphasis).

    And yet, it is all there – spiritual altered state experiences. Amazing. I will have to puzzle of this view for a time… perhaps several days.

    I am sorry for the damage that the Bible inflicted upon you. I hope you truly experience recovery.

    You wrote, “Being able to express myself here has been cathartic. I have had to be doing a lot of self-therapy to rescue my brain from the adverse psychological experiences which I have had as a result of intense prayer and meditation. I am trying to move on and close the chapter on this unpleasant experience.”

    I think you are being very wise.

    Hugs; Caryn

  41. Denise says:

    Thanks for reaching out to me and for your kind words Caryn. I appreciate your empathy.

    In working through my experience I have come to realize that Christianity is trying to achieve the same thing which eastern meditation practices are trying to achieve – the purifying/purging/cleansing/emptying of our minds of selfish, fleshly thoughts to increase spirituality, decrease self-centeredness, transcend self and thereby achieve behaviour modification. Some of the scriptures which address this include:

    2 Corinthians 7:1:
    “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God”.

    2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NKJV):
    “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.”

    Romans 12:1-3:
    “…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service…. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I say… to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly….”

    Isaiah 55:7-9:
    “Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts……..For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

    Proverbs 21:2:
    “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”

    Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV):
    There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.”

    Proverbs 3:5-7:
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
    Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil.”

    Matthew 16:23:
    “Then Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are standing in My way. You are not thinking how God thinks. You are thinking how man thinks.” ”

    Romans 7:14-25:
    “For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”

    Jeremiah 17:9:
    “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

    1Corinthians 2:12-16:
    “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”

    Galatians 5:17-23:
    “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

    Romans 8:5:
    “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.”

    1 Peter 1:14-16 (NIV):
    “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” ”

    2 Corinthians 4:18:
    “As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

    1 Peter 5:5-7
    “…be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

    1 Peter 1:22(NIV):
    “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.”

    James 4:6(NIV):
    “But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:
    “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” ”

    1 Corinthians 3:1-4:
    “Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?”

    1 John 2:16-17:
    “For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”

    Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV):
    “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

    Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19:
    “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.” ”

    I would try to do as these scriptures exhort by meditating deeply in order to connect with my inner thoughts so as to transform my mind/thinking/thought process. As one Christian song puts it: more of you less of me.

    I too at one time used to only associate eastern meditation practices with peaceful Buddhist monks but my experiences made me aware that some persons who engage in eastern meditation practices (which tend to be deep and intense) also experience adverse effects just as I did.

  42. Denise says:

    @Caryn M. cont’d:

    There seems to be confusion within Christianity:

    – over whether or not God still inserts thoughts into people’s minds today or is that something which he only did in the past.

    – God is no longer giving persons dreams/visions or speaking directly to them today but he will nevertheless insert thoughts into their minds to guide them. I don’t see any difference between these different modes of communication since God is still communicating with persons.

    Christianity wants persons to believe in a supernatural, interventionist, all-knowing judging God but through my experiences I have come to the same conclusion to which the embattled, controversial United Church of Canada minister Greta Vosper has come – God is not interventionist and supernatural:

    https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2016/09/08/defrock-atheist-minister-gretta-vosper-united-church-panel-urges.html

    http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-january-11-2016-1.3398187/atheist-minister-fights-to-keep-her-place-in-the-united-church-1.3398237

    Thanks again for your kind words and for connecting with me in such an empathetic way.

  43. Denise says:

    *****Edit:

    ……..God is not interventionist and supernatural, YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT THINGS FOR YOURSELF………

  44. Denise says:

    Thanks for the disclaimers Brigitte, I finally understand how this prayer and meditation thing should work:

    – God does not listen to intense/deep prayers, only non-intense ones so it would be wrong to pray intense/deep prayers;

    – It would also be wrong to mediate intensely/deeply on God’s word, despite the fact that the definition of meditation implies not just musing but intense concentration and focus

    ……………who knew.

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