Communication takes many forms
The Rev. Jill Jarvis, pastor, Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence, 1263 N. 1100 Road:
What might it mean to “talk to God”, absent a belief in a personified supernatural being who hears our words? There are people of faith, including most Unitarian Universalists, whose religious worldviews don’t include the concept of a personal god. Yet many speak of “God” to symbolize that which is most powerful, profound and precious throughout human history: a spirit of life and love that brings inner peace, a sense of connectedness to all, and moves us toward feelings of compassion and acts of justice.
To communicate with God, then — whether or not we find the word itself meaningful — is to focus our attention in ways that heighten awareness of our full humanity and of our place in the interconnected web of all existence. In so doing we experience a deep sense of gratitude, awe and obligation that inspires us to action.
This is our communication with the holy, or that which leads us toward wholeness. It takes many forms and happens in many times and places throughout our lives. Alone, in silent meditation as we clear our minds of everyday clutter, we may reach a profound sense of connection with our innermost selves.
Guided by another’s wisdom — a spiritual director, a therapist, a trusted friend — reflecting on our life’s experience may produce insights leading to greater understanding and healing of old wounds.
Yet introspection, contemplation and self-reflection are not enough to sustain our connection to the holy. We need other people to be part of that ongoing process. Within a trusted community of seekers and friends we “talk to God” together in many ways. In worship services we celebrate in words, song, ritual and music the common values and aspirations that we find most worthy. We touch the holy by sharing each other’s joys and sorrows, and caring for each other in times of need. We share insights about our human condition, and together, we bear witness to the cry for solidarity among all people.
— Send e-mail to Jill Jarvis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple biblical verses offer guidance
Ric Mitchell, area coordinator, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Educational System:
We are all children of God. He loves us and hears our every plea. He is anxious to answer us and will just as soon as we are ready to listen.
During his mortal ministry, Jesus was approached by a disciple who said, “Lord, teach us to pray.” In response, the Savior gave what has become commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” (see Luke 11:1-13 and Matthew 6:1-15).
Additionally, the Bible records other prayers uttered by Christ. From the 26-verse petition known as the “Intercessory Prayer” (John 17) to the one-verse expression of gratitude in John 11:41, much can be gleaned from a study of how Christ prayed.
The following is a simple outline for prayer with biblical references to support each step.
1. Begin by addressing God. Jesus most often used the title “Father” (see Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:10-13; John 17:1).
2). Give thanks. (John 11:41; Luke 22:17,19; Matthew 15:36, 26:27; Mark 8:6, 14:23)
3. Ask for things you need. (Luke 11:9,11-13; Matthew 7:7, 9-11; Matthew 21:22)
4. Pray in Jesus’ name. (John 14:13-14, 16:23; Matthew 18:20)
5. Close with the word “Amen,” which means “truly,” “surely” or “so be it.” (Matthew 6:13)
Most importantly, keep in mind that God is your loving Father in Heaven. He wants to hear from you, and he wants to help you. You don’t have to be fancy or flowery; in fact, the Savior condemned that (Matthew 6:7). Simply be sincere and pray the best you know how, remembering that “the Lord looks upon the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Finally, don’t ever forget the Lord’s invitation to each of his children: “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).
— Send e-mail to Ric Mitchell at email@example.com.