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Author Topic:   Learning How to Pray After Finding God, from the perspective of a born again Catholic
New Cat's Eye
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Posts: 11446
From: near St. Louis
Joined: 01-27-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


(4)
Message 1 of 35 (796407)
12-29-2016 12:21 PM


A submission for an opening post for a topic of discussion in the Comparative Religions section of EvC Forum

I was raised Catholic and learned exactly how to walk the walk and talk the talk, and I even thought that I believed in God (now I guess I really didn't). Becoming a bachelor of science, I approached my personal religion in a systematic and analytical way. As a result, I was a spiritual child who never really found God. Scientifically, I couldn't come to any conclusion that He1 wasn't there, but there are other people out there who are "bachelors of religion", and I trusted that they had to be on to something. I accepted that God exists, and went on about my life. Along the way I've argued here as a theist who know that we've evolved from apes and likes to nerd out on evolution and cosmology while trolling people who I know are incredibly wrong. Know that not everything I've said has been a position that I wholeheartedly agreed with, and realize that when you're not sure what the answer is, you can test an answer by using it in an argument with other people on the internet. That's like the whole philosophy of Wikipedia, ain't no shame in my game.

Anyways, my life has been privileged, and I have been successful. And yet, I find myself unhappy because I am battling addiction. It turns out that trying to solve emotional problems with a scientific approach hasn't done me any good over the years, and I am not that well. I learned a new way to approach solving a problem, and when I applied that to my addiction problem, I started trying new solutions. One of them ended up being that whole "seeking a higher power" thing that 12-step refers to (I am not an advocate of 12-step, y'all just know what it is).

I ended up turning to God (meaning what that means to me), and I got a response. It was non-verbal, but I knew what I had to do. I don't think that source of knowledge was myself. I was at a place where I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know where to go for help, so I said fuck it and opened myself up to God in the way that I thought I should (and have never done so before), and it hit me hard. I am now driven to change my life in a way I have never been before. Don't worry; I am taking this slowly and I have a lot of support, thankfully.

I've seen my medical doctor and I am physically well, so I am seeking some counseling on my mental and emotional health. I haven't been to my first appointment yet (its soon), but there's a lot of work in preparing and I've realized that this place is a creative output for me that I enjoy and that it is also a valuable resource for discussion.

I am also a fairly intelligent person who has learned that he may be experiencing being Bipolar, and that it is not impossible that I could need medication. If my experience with finding God was just my first manic attack, then that is exciting too - that means that I've been successful all these years while I've been depressed, so if I can get well then I should only do better, and I have a plan.

Also, these two things are not necessarily mutually exclusive, so I don't feel like its one way or the other.

I'm not yet convinced that drugs is the answer to my problem, and my doctor agrees that I should seek counseling first, which I'm doing. I'd also like to spend some of my time here arguing anonymously2 on the internet with strangers who I can relate to, in an attempt to learn.

For the purposes of this thread, I'd like to hear from other people who believe that they have found God, and learn more about what their experiences have been like for them. I'm also using this place for therapy, because I've realize how much I like to write and I think this is good for me. If you want to talk that side of it, feel free to reply as well.

I haven't really learned how to pray yet, and by that I mean in a way that I find value3, so I don't. Friends in RL are telling me that I'll figure it out. Anybody here want to help me?

How do you pray? How do you pray? I feel like it might just literally be "to relate to God".

For the non-theists: Is there such a thing as "secular prayer"? I suppose that would be literally "to relate to the void". Would you think there would be any value in that sort of thing? What about for a person who has an addiction problem?

.

1: capitalizing words like he when I refer to God, and even the word god, is purely syntax for me, but I am doing it out of respect.
2: I do value my anonymity here so please respect that. If I simply refuse to talk about something, that is why.
3: Remember I was raised Catholic, I totally have a bunch of prayers memorized. I just don't really know how to use them in a way that helps me.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Faith, posted 12-29-2016 5:18 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 4 by Modulous, posted 12-29-2016 9:10 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 5 by Phat, posted 12-30-2016 8:38 AM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 8 by Stile, posted 12-30-2016 1:25 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 9 by GDR, posted 12-31-2016 8:51 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 11 by mike the wiz, posted 01-03-2017 3:41 PM New Cat's Eye has responded
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Message 2 of 35 (796409)
12-29-2016 4:41 PM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the Learning How to Pray After Finding God, from the perspective of a born again Catholic thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Faith
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Posts: 25341
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


(1)
Message 3 of 35 (796412)
12-29-2016 5:18 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
12-29-2016 12:21 PM


I would really like to be helpful to you about this, but I have a feeling you might not be open to anything I'd say. My perspective is completely Protestant and I'm very leery of anything Caholic, including Catholic prayers which are likely to be canned and completely irrelevant to a relationship with God. I'm sure some Catholics are saved but in that case I'd expect their orientation to be more like mine than in line with Catholic doctrine. It can happen but it would take some discussion to find out if that's the situation with you.

I ended up turning to God (meaning what that means to me), and I got a response. It was non-verbal, but I knew what I had to do.

This could certainly be an answer from God.

I don't think that source of knowledge was myself.

I believe you but unfortunately there are other sources of such knowledge than God, and even true believers can be tripped up about that.

I was at a place where I didn't know what to do, and I didn't know where to go for help,

Very good place to start.

so I said fuck it and opened myself up to God in the way that I thought I should (and have never done so before), and it hit me hard.

As it should and I very much hope it is God who is reaching out to you in this way.

I am now driven to change my life in a way I have never been before. Don't worry; I am taking this slowly and I have a lot of support, thankfully.

Sounds good.

As for how to pray, Jesus gave us the Lord's Prayer as a template for that. Each line is a theme you can expand on according to your own understanding and feelings and needs. But in general praying is just addressing God as Lord or Lord God or Heavenly Father or something similar, saying something that indicates you want to be His servant/child/adorer, perhaps asking Him to show you what He wants from you, but not all prayers have to follow such a pattern. You can just start asking Him to help you with something, as if He's a friend who has the power and the desire to help you. Ordinary English, nothing programmed. "Dear Lord, please protect my family while they are driving through the mountains to visit me, in Jesus Name I pray Amen" is roughly how I prayed recently. (They happened to come through the mountains on the only day when it was clear and dry, among a series of days with heavy snow and ice and traffic accidents.

Which reminds me of a similar situation some twenty-odd years ago when my daughter was driving alone through the same mountains but there was a black cloud over them that I could see from here that scared the wits out of me. This is the famous Donner Pass route where so many died a long time ago and it's still treacherous. I got down on the floor on my face and begged God to keep her from harm. Later she told me she was driving in blizzard conditions, couldn't see a thing, suddenly saw an exit sign and took it, ended up staying the rest of the night in a motel -- where she was finally able to call me (no cell phone back then). Expensive but better than running off the road in a blizzard)

ABE: The prayers I've found I can count on God's answering are prayers for understanding, particularly understanding of something that isn't clear in His Word. This was pretty dramatically the case when I was a new believer and didn't have much knowledge of the Bible. Over and over I found He directed me to a Biblical answer to a question I had. He still does.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Edited by Faith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
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Modulous
Member
Posts: 7407
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005


(3)
Message 4 of 35 (796426)
12-29-2016 9:10 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
12-29-2016 12:21 PM


And yet, I find myself unhappy because I am battling addiction.

Or perhaps you are battling an addiction because you were unhappy?

I am also a fairly intelligent person who has learned that he may be experiencing being Bipolar, and that it is not impossible that I could need medication. If my experience with finding God was just my first manic attack, then that is exciting too - that means that I've been successful all these years while I've been depressed, so if I can get well then I should only do better, and I have a plan.

I don't know you all that well, but you could also be suffering with psychosis or quasi-psychotic states. That can come from bipolarity, or all on its own. I'm not bipolar but I've had quarter of a century of psychosis related issues to deal with. Most people dismiss this possibility on the grounds they haven't completely broken with reality, as they think of people with obvious schizophrenia.

Ideas or delusions of reference, for example, are where you find special significance in things other people consider quite mundane. This might be a news story, a TV show or books or certain religious creeds.

I've seen my medical doctor and I am physically well, so I am seeking some counseling on my mental and emotional health. I haven't been to my first appointment yet (its soon), but there's a lot of work in preparing and I've realized that this place is a creative output for me that I enjoy and that it is also a valuable resource for discussion.

It's good to seek help, and it's good to surrender yourself to that help from time to time. Careful you don't become dependent on that instead, though! Victory comes from independence, in my view, when all the crutches have been cast aside. Of course, crutches are important, as are walking canes - so don't take this as a plea to rush.

I'm not yet convinced that drugs is the answer to my problem

In my experience, as limited as that may be, drugs at best can give you some 'room to think'. They aren't themselves a solution unless you are permanently crippled.

For the purposes of this thread, I'd like to hear from other people who believe that they have found God, and learn more about what their experiences have been like for them.

I have found many gods. I've felt them, I've been taken to divine places by them and I've had conversations with some of them.

My experience in meeting so many gods helped me realize that certain tactics were required to separate the wishful thinking from the real.

I'm also using this place for therapy, because I've realize how much I like to write and I think this is good for me

Me too!

Friends in RL are telling me that I'll figure it out. Anybody here want to help me?

Your friends are probably right. I guess by certain modern definitions I might qualify as one and I agree with those RL ones. It's your personal psychology, what works for them or me might not work for you.

How do you pray? How do you pray? I feel like it might just literally be "to relate to God".

I've asked, I've begged, I've demanded, I've sobbed and I've implored. Among many other things. It's a good way to focus and discover what you think you need, what you are actually feeling and so on.

For the non-theists: Is there such a thing as "secular prayer"? I suppose that would be literally "to relate to the void".

I've settled on meditative practices as my preferred method. Sometimes I just watch my thoughts. Other times I go to the countryside at night time and stare up into the night sky and consider the fact that I'm just as much looking down as I am up, that I'm travelling around a gigantic fusion reaction on a spinning planet along with billions of other confused and pained people suffering their existential crises and insecurities, and feeling at one with them all in some sense. A communal emotional rollercoaster so to speak; and I hope that together, despite our differences, we might muddle our way through to find some pockets of happiness.

I typically lose all sense of individuality in these moments and feel a great peace and, perhaps paradoxically - clarity. It is at these times I am often inspired or have sudden ground breaking epiphanies that change the way I look at things and I'm filled with a resolve to make changes in the path I am taking.

Usually once I am back with my feet on the ground I don't end up making the big changes, but I do make little ones. Enough of them can add up to something, I hope.

Would you think there would be any value in that sort of thing?

The unexamined life is not worth living. There is immense value. The worst kinds of prayer or meditation are the purely self-serving ones in my view. "Can someone/the cosmos just help me get what I want!" Saying what you want or need can help clarify your emotions to yourself just as when you talk to your partners, friends, family members or psychiatrists. The difference is that you will always edit your thoughts for public consumption. When you are praying or meditating I recommend practising honesty...you might be surprised at how difficult that can actually be.

And if you find imagining or believing there is someone listening who knows when you are lying, that's cool by me. I have my own voices who call me out on my nonsense, I just don't deify them. If it helps you to do so, go right on ahead without shame. Just don't take those words as being prescriptive on other people's lives and you are golden.

What about for a person who has an addiction problem?

There are so many bullshit excuses you tell yourself when you are addicted to something, I recommend doing something of this sort. Surrender to your community, your species, your family or your own wisdom. Don't take any of your own nonsense and tackle the real reasons you do what you do, without blaming yourself or telling yourself you are worthless and stupid and pathetic...those are just different kinds of lies!

Good luck and god bless!

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Phat, posted 12-30-2016 8:41 AM Modulous has acknowledged this reply
 Message 22 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-14-2017 9:55 PM Modulous has responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 9435
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 2.0


(1)
Message 5 of 35 (796447)
12-30-2016 8:38 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
12-29-2016 12:21 PM


Learning How To Listen
NewCatSci writes:

For the purposes of this thread, I'd like to hear from other people who believe that they have found God, and learn more about what their experiences have been like for them. I'm also using this place for therapy, because I've realize how much I like to write and I think this is good for me. If you want to talk that side of it, feel free to reply as well.

I have told my story in part many times in earlier threads, but this gives me a fresh opportunity to share my journey. Forgive me if I sound like I am preaching or proselytizing...though it may be true. My intention is to simply share my story.

First off, I was raised in a Christian environment to a limited extent. My parents belonged to a Methodist Church, and were not hyper religious...in retrospect I think that they equated God with prosperity. They and the many peers they knew all became financially stable and successful after World War II and joined many churches. They sung hymns and chatted after church, showing each other their kids and their new cars which they had bought through hard work. I was never taught much about how to relate or identify with God or Jesus. All that I remember was that I was told to eat all of the vegetables on my plate because "somewhere in India, a small boy or girl did not have what I had."

As I grew older I began to form my own beliefs...at least within the context of my world view. We smoked pot, took LSD, dabbled with pyramid power and positive thinking energy, and experienced life free to make our own minds up as to what to believe in or not. Above all, we were indoctrinated to believe in our Country...right or wrong, damnit. In 1993, I was exposed to a non-denominational charismatic church. The people seemed hyper-Jesus, and they all seemed to smile a lot and act smug, but one day I went to the altar and confessed...as I had done many times before in my life...except this time I honestly felt a strong internal change. It was as if my perception had changed. God became personal. They told me I was saved. I had no reason to doubt them. Much of my early indoctrination was done through sermons which were always tied to certain Bible verses.

I left that church and went to several others over the course of the next ten years. I also had many life experiences that tested my faith, belief, expectations, and critical solutions.
I also attended college and was exposed to more disciplined and varied thinking. And last but not least--I found EvC Forum. Here, largely through jar whom I have enjoyed debating with and found fascinating beacuse he believed virtually nothing that I did yet also called himself a Christian, I learned to a limited degree critical thought.

So what does this all mean? It means that I have my own definite beliefs at this point.

  • God exists. He can be personal if one is serious about listening as well as asking for things.
    Many people know about God and can define Him any way they so choose. Fewer people have actually met God...and cannot prove it. I believe that they have genuinely experienced conversion, though I would agree that to keep it requires a choice of daily commitment. We have no selfies of God nor Jesus, so at best we should listen and question and even challenge our preconceived notions.

    I haven't really learned how to pray yet, and by that I mean in a way that I find value, so I don't. Friends in RL are telling me that I'll figure it out. Anybody here want to help me?
    I simply go to a quiet place where no one can disturb me. I talk...sometimes audibly. Occasionally I will recite written prayers. I believe with a high degree of certainty that God exists and hears my prayers. I feel that the purpose of prayer is not so much for Gods benefit as it is for mine...because I learn a lot about my deepest intentions when I am honest.
    How do you pray? I feel like it might just literally be "to relate to God".
    Thats actually a good way to put it. I agree.

    Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
    "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
    ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.~Proverbs 28:26

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 25 by New Cat's Eye, posted 01-16-2017 2:28 PM Phat has responded

      
  • Phat
    Member
    Posts: 9435
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 2.0


    Message 6 of 35 (796448)
    12-30-2016 8:41 AM
    Reply to: Message 4 by Modulous
    12-29-2016 9:10 PM


    Sweet Surrender
    Modulous writes:

    Surrender to your community, your species, your family or your own wisdom. Don't take any of your own nonsense and tackle the real reasons you do what you do, without blaming yourself or telling yourself you are worthless and stupid and pathetic...those are just different kinds of lies!

    Thats actually also good advice. Keyword: Surrender. Never assume you already know more than they do.
    Mod,on prayer writes:

    I've asked, I've begged, I've demanded, I've sobbed and I've implored. Among many other things. It's a good way to focus and discover what you think you need, what you are actually feeling and so on.

    Reading this made me realize that we are not so different--you and I.

    Edited by Phat, : added jabberwockian discourse


    Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
    "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
    ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.~Proverbs 28:26

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 4 by Modulous, posted 12-29-2016 9:10 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

      
    Phat
    Member
    Posts: 9435
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 2.0


    Message 7 of 35 (796450)
    12-30-2016 8:47 AM
    Reply to: Message 3 by Faith
    12-29-2016 5:18 PM


    Prayer 101
    Faith writes:

    But in general praying is just addressing God as Lord or Lord God or Heavenly Father or something similar, saying something that indicates you want to be His servant/child/adorer, perhaps asking Him to show you what He wants from you, but not all prayers have to follow such a pattern. You can just start asking Him to help you with something, as if He's a friend who has the power and the desire to help you. Ordinary English, nothing programmed.

    My prayers are getting longer than they used to be and I dont always ask for something anymore. If I do, it is usually for someone else. One Pastor that I knew suggested we use the acrostic ACTS when we pray.
    Each prayer should include:
    A-Adoration. Thanking God for being so absolutely huuuuge! Humbling myself before the vastness of a Creator.

    C-Confession. No shortage of material there. I always have something to confess.

    T-Thanksgiving. Gratitude for what I have, what we all have, and the need to stay humble.

    S-Supplication. Because there is always something to ask for. Maybe God grants it or maybe He gives me insight into how to find it.

    Edited by Phat, : huuuuge spelling error


    Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
    "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
    ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.~Proverbs 28:26

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 3 by Faith, posted 12-29-2016 5:18 PM Faith has not yet responded

      
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 2896
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 3.5


    (2)
    Message 8 of 35 (796491)
    12-30-2016 1:25 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
    12-29-2016 12:21 PM


    New Cat's Eye writes:

    I'm also using this place for therapy, because I've realize how much I like to write and I think this is good for me. If you want to talk that side of it, feel free to reply as well.

    Don't mind if I do!
    I'm basically an atheist, so take from this what you will.

    I think that everyone has their own way to feeling "good."
    I find it difficult to put into words, but here goes.

    Let's start with the basics... everyone understands something along the lines of "people need food, water and shelter."
    That's for more of the physical side of things, though. What about the mental side?

    I think that the mental side needs a few things as well, I would say it needs safety and confidence.
    Again, this isn't the physical side (physical safety would fall under "shelter," really).
    What I'm talking about here is the feelings of feeling safe and feeling confident.

    In my understanding, all people are different.
    Some like the colour blue, others like the colour red, or whatever.
    This seems irrelevant and insignificant, but I think it's really important.

    When someone likes blue over red... why is that? I think it comes down to their mental state... their feelings... they simply have different feelings about colours.

    So, if we can accept that people have different feelings, and perhaps even different ways to feel this makes it difficult to give everyone a feeling of safety and confidence.

    Whereas the physical side is easy. Water is water for me and water for you. We can just give everyone water.
    But what about feelings? What if I need red and you need blue? Or what if you don't even know what feeling you need in order to be feel safe and confident?

    The first step, to me, is the physical side. If you don't physically have access to food, water and shelter (physical safety). What hope do you have of finding time to worry about your mental side? I will assume you have access to food and water. But what about phsycial safety? You need to have a 'home base' that is yours, one that is safe, one that others cannot access without your permission, one where you are free to 'be you' (whatever that means) without worry of some sort of backlash.

    This is where the physical and mental side of 'safety' overlap.
    Some people like to be in groups.
    Others like to be alone.
    Many like to have varying degrees of each and even those "varying levels" can change from week to week.

    Some people like being away from civilization. More on their own.
    Others like being in the middle of a city, with close-access to emergency help and things like that.
    There's a balance you'll likely have to figure out on your own.

    This is where drugs can come in to play. Maybe you need some sort of drug to help calm your mind so you can even think about and consider such things. My wife has dissociative episodes where "she" loses time while "someone else" takes over for a bit if her anxiety gets too high. We tried a bunch of mind-drugs (have to give them, like, 3-4 months of a chance to see if they're even working) but each one either didn't help... or did help, but also made her feel 'dull' or lose some other part of herself she didn't want to live without. We eventually ended up with more of a sleep-helping/anti-depressant drug with very minor mind-effects (Trazedone). But these things are definitely not a one-size-fits-all deal. This allowed her to get normal sleep, which allowed her to focus her mind during the day which allowed her therapy to start working as well.

    And onto the religious side of things for mental health... I don't think there is an absolute "right answer." I think this deals a lot with people's feelings. I think the mental side of health is very important and always has been. It just wasn't identified as such a long, long time ago. People called it "religion."

    Some people, like me, are terrified of working with something that isn't factual or based in objective re-inforcement.
    There are terrifying questions out there like "what happens to me when I die?" and such things. I find solace in the fact that "no one knows"... so I don't feel bad that *I* don't know.

    But this isn't the way all people feel. This isn't how all people work.

    Some people can't deal with "we don't know" answers. And they need to get that feeling of safety and confidence from a sense that "someone" has this all worked out... that there is "some plan" and possibly a "great power" is leading the way.
    And boom... religion.
    This can be a significant source of mental health. "What's going to happen when I die?" causes worries... the answer of "God will take care of me." Can be a very powerful answer to those worries, if it works for the way your mental health works.

    In this sense... I don't think there is an absolute "wrong answer" about being an atheist or being religious or anywhere in between. I think there is a right/wrong answer for New Cat's Eye... and right/wrong answer for Stile, and a right/wrong answer for every single different human being.

    Step 1 - Figure out how you think, how you feel.
    Step 2 - Accept the answer that works with the way you are. Otherwise, you'll constantly be fighting your own "self" whether you know it or not.

    For the non-theists: Is there such a thing as "secular prayer"? I suppose that would be literally "to relate to the void".

    In a sense... yes. I just call it "wishing." I don't wish to a void, or "to" anything specific. I just make wishes. Sometimes to everything/anything... sometimes just "making a wish."

    Would you think there would be any value in that sort of thing?

    Yes. I think wishing is an aspect of being creative, striving for things and can be used for motivational purposes as well.

    What about for a person who has an addiction problem?

    I think praying can be a very important tool to someone with an addiction problem. But with any motivational tool... someone with an addiction needs to be very careful in how far they take it. Watch out for that line crossing from motivation-for-something-healthy into rationalization-of-something-unhealthy. It's not an easy thing to do.

    Well... there's my ramblings


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     Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

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    GDR
    Member
    Posts: 4240
    From: Sidney, BC, Canada
    Joined: 05-22-2005


    (2)
    Message 9 of 35 (796589)
    12-31-2016 8:51 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
    12-29-2016 12:21 PM


    New Cat's Eye writes:

    For the purposes of this thread, I'd like to hear from other people who believe that they have found God, and learn more about what their experiences have been like for them.

    My experience may not apply to you,but seeing as how you asked, I’ll tell my tale. I grew up in the Anglican church and essentially found it boring, but when I stopped attending church I wasn’t left with any negative baggage to overcome. For 20 years I was an agnostic. When my atheistic wife had an experience of God while we were visiting my bother in England at the time, I decided that I better sort out just what it was that I believed about God and Christianity.

    My brother gave me a copy of CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity”. I found Lewis’ argument compelling and so when we returned to Montreal ,where we were living at the time I, along with my wife started attending the local Anglican church. I did find in all of this that I experienced a fairly significant change in my attitudes towards others and in my world outlook. (Call it born again if you like.)

    Over the years I became more and more involved in church life , including becoming involved in youth ministry, which strangely enough was largely responsible for a musical ministry with various senior’s groups which has now become essentially my volunteer career since I retired from the career that paid the bills.

    About 15 years ago I realized that my faith was something that I believed without having put any real attempt into learning about why I believed what I did. At that point I started a project of reading to learn about God. In order to do this I did some research on who the authorities were. I wanted to affirm that if God did exist at all, what His nature was really like, how to understand the Bible and how to understand God through observing and studying nature.

    The Anglican church always used the three pillars of faith, those being Scripture reason and tradition. I now have many shelves of books that I have read on all of these subjects. I didn’t limit myself to reading those whose views were most appealing. I read material written by atheists’ to fundamentalists. Incidentally, I don’t worry much about denominations as my contention is that God is far more concerned about our hearts than He is our theology. BTW I think that your Pope is a wonderful Christian. I see his life as being an example of someone who lives by the message found in my signature.

    Eventually I found that I most appreciated, and was most influenced by, the work of 3 Brits.

    The first was in my view the greatest Christian philosopher of all time and that is CS Lewis. I don’t always agree with everything he says but his views resonate with my experience of life. If you were to read one book by him I would recommend “The Great Divorce” which is an allegory of how we humans choose hell. It essentially repudiates the idea of a deity that is standing by waiting to punish us.

    The second major influence was NT (Tom) Wright who Newsweek called the world leading New Testament scholar. Wright has taught at Oxford, McGill and Cambridge. He is currently with the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Wright combined his extensive scriptural knowledge with his historical study of the world that Jesus lived in. His debates with both Borg and Crossan concerning the resurrection are fascinating. The book that I would recommend in particular by Wright is “Simply Good News”.

    The third is John Polkinghorne. Polkinghorne was a major player in particle physics until in his 40’s he decided that all the major advances in physics were from those much younger than himself and he proceeded to start his studies in the field of theology. It is fascinating how he combines his theology with his scientific knowledge. The book I would recommend by him is “Testing Scripture: A Scientist Explores the Bible”. I like his straight forward approach when he asks the question of how we can square the concept of a God who commands genocide and public stoning with what Jesus taught, (such as love your enemy). He says simply that you can’t.

    There are also many videos by Wright and Polkinghorne on youtube.

    As far as prayer goes, I actually agree with Faith. The "Lord's Prayer" is the best place to start, and as she says you can pray around each thought expressed in that prayer. I also think of when it says in Psalm 37 that if we delight in the Lord He will give us the desires of our hearts. In other words, if we do truly follow in our hearts His message of peace, love, forgiveness, justice etc we will find our joy in those things. It is those attributes of God that we will desire. I pray that that is where my heart will be.

    Hope this helps.
    Happy 2017


    He has told you, O man, what is good ; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.

    Micah 6:8


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

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    New Cat's Eye
    Member
    Posts: 11446
    From: near St. Louis
    Joined: 01-27-2005
    Member Rating: 2.6


    (1)
    Message 10 of 35 (796664)
    01-02-2017 4:59 PM


    Thanks everyone for the replies, it's good stuff. I intend to reply to everyone who replied to me, but I'm a little busy in RL right now. This will prolly just end up being a slow moving thread, but I'll be participating gradually so please bare with me.


      
    mike the wiz
    Member
    Posts: 4566
    From: u.k
    Joined: 05-24-2003


    (1)
    Message 11 of 35 (796721)
    01-03-2017 3:41 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
    12-29-2016 12:21 PM


    Cat's eye, the problem is other people without these mental issues, have also had similar experiences of, "finding God", and so do we conclude they all are having some kind of psychotic experiences? That doesn't make sense because the ones without those mental issues also find God. So then for every Christian testimony which they all describe similar things, you have to reason separate causes. Not a very parsimonious explanation, when the neatest answer is that God is the cause.

    Anyone can suggest a number of plausible explanations of course, as to why it was a bit of indigestion or whatever...but in reality the individual knows when something significantly deeper, has happened to them. It's ultimately up to you to decide that. Is life just an accident? If you have decided it is, then isn't that a decision of the will? How then can God lead you if you insist he is an undigested bit of potato?

    Ask God to confirm it.

    New cat's eye, I think it can't be coincidental that the bible says that those who seek God will find Him, that He "resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble".

    The real question is; why do only the humble find God? Why do those who come to the end of themselves and cry out to God, always get an answer? Why do all those who are born again experience God's answers, and the Holy Spirit, in some way and describe the same experiences? You are giving a testimony, a Christian testimony, and I have heard hundreds of them, and they all describe highly similar occurrences, the person is always humble, and willing to hear from God if He is really there. Something happens that changes them. An inner knowing. There may also be a experience which generalisation-fallacy-lovers would call a, "religious experience" so as to broaden the target, and lump in the born-again experience, with all other religious manmade, pseudo-gold.

    I think you have now experienced the start perhaps, of being born-again, which is NOT RELIGION, and you must surely know the difference now, if you really have found Him.

    The catholic church unfortunately, teaches a DEAD version of prayer. I don't say this out of bias, for all churchianity-establishments are ultimately inventions of man. True Christianity is everything Christ said it is, so perhaps it's time to listen to what He said, if He is the head of the church, rather than Pope evolutionist the 743rd.

    I would say if it is difficult to pray it is because, "you must unlearn what you have learnt". - Yoda, - The Empire Strikes Back.

    Now you're dealing with THE REAL THING and I can tell you if you have tasted the real thing, you must surely know how DEAD religion is, and how religion is a CHEAP COPY of the true gospel.

    That is - you asked as a real-life experience, for God's help, you communicated, WHICH IS PRAYER. Now all you have to say is, "God lead me from here, if that was you."

    I would suggest reading the bible. What I do is I ask God to lead me to the answers in His word.

    I would say, don't stop seeking God now with a tally of 1. Choose to go forward.

    As for encounters with God, in the sense of a genuine experience, I have experienced that. The presence of God fell on me in an unequivocal way once.

    ...if life is an accident, if it's all a big-banged tornado in a junkyard, then to my mind, logically speaking, specifically answered prayer wouldn't happen generally, nor would the other 4,500 specific answers God has given me, have happened, because it would just be a random, indifferent, universe where there is no God to answer. And what about all the other born again people, who also have specifically answered prayers? Have you ever watched Christian testimonies on utube or on Christian TV? It's time to start - pretty soon you'll realise they all describe pretty much the same experiences, very consistently.

    You have to cut through the phlegm and ask this question; "does this fit with a universe where God does exist and can communicate to me like the bible says, or does it fit with a random Godless universe where you wouldn't expect a specific answer."

    Edited by mike the wiz, : you don't have to answer this post, I understand if you can't value what I say because of what I stand for. I think you should start to investigate evolution, you will be surprised if you read for example, creation.com articles, just how quickly it falls apart if your mind has been shaken and forced to think more objectively. All of a sudden, those who sounded like demons and of whom you were told were demons, will seem like angels.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-29-2016 12:21 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

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    ProtoTypical
    Member
    Posts: 1740
    From: Ontario Canada
    Joined: 08-04-2010


    (2)
    Message 12 of 35 (796813)
    01-04-2017 9:06 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by New Cat's Eye
    12-29-2016 12:21 PM


    For the non-theists: Is there such a thing as "secular prayer"?

    I would say that there is such a thing as secular prayer but I wouldn't call it praying given the connotations of that word. Essentially I would describe it as envisioning the way that one would like things to be. Basically the very same thing that praying is without the external target recipient and the miraculous bit. It is the way that our brains work. The first step in making something happen is to envision it happening and in that sense we all do it.

    I understand that there is a difference between praying and envisioning the future but I think that the impetus for both acts is much the same. I also think that the results can be much the same by virtue of holding a thought in mind.

    I suppose that would be literally "to relate to the void".

    She ain't empty man, shes just really big.

    There is a large expression of gratefulness and submission in prayer that I can identify with. Some sense of being a babe in the arms of the universe and completely at her mercy. The fact that I am alive at all seems quite miraculous. The vast multitude of fortunate events that have led to this moment seem to call for some element of gratitude. For me, as an atheist, it manifests as a sense of humility but falls short of supplication.


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    Phat
    Member
    Posts: 9435
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 2.0


    (1)
    Message 13 of 35 (796833)
    01-05-2017 8:18 AM
    Reply to: Message 8 by Stile
    12-30-2016 1:25 PM


    Balance
    Stile writes:

    Some people like being away from civilization. More on their own.
    Others like being in the middle of a city, with close-access to emergency help and things like that.
    There's a balance you'll likely have to figure out on your own.

    I always like your balanced approach to these types of topics! I once took a course known as Denver Leadership Initiative where they taught us five core values which all worked synergistic ally to get our heads straight.

  • Balance
  • Accountability
  • Leverage
  • Interdependence
  • Empowerment

    I needed to remind myself of them which is why I am writing this reply. Your word "Balance" jumped out at me!

    In my understanding, all people are different.
    Yes. Some would argue that "One God does not fit all.....and I suppose that you are living proof! For some reason, you and I usually get along, however. I rarely try and convert you and you rarely if ever try and deconvert me. It is part of what makes EvC Forum such a folksy place....

    Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
    "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
    ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.~Proverbs 28:26

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 8 by Stile, posted 12-30-2016 1:25 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
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  • Phat
    Member
    Posts: 9435
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 2.0


    Message 14 of 35 (796836)
    01-05-2017 8:34 AM
    Reply to: Message 12 by ProtoTypical
    01-04-2017 9:06 PM


    Prayer and Envisioning
    Prototypical writes:

    I would say that there is such a thing as secular prayer but I wouldn't call it praying given the connotations of that word. Essentially I would describe it as envisioning the way that one would like things to be. Basically the very same thing that praying is without the external target recipient and the miraculous bit. It is the way that our brains work. The first step in making something happen is to envision it happening and in that sense we all do it.

    Isn't that basically the philosophy of positive thinkers such as Napoleon Hill?

    She ain't empty man, shes just really big.
    Calling the universe "She"....I like that

    The vast multitude of fortunate events that have led to this moment seem to call for some element of gratitude.
    Hmmmm "Fortune"...is that a bit like "chance"? I suppose that my point...apart from my tendency to respond to everyone who I read...is that prayer is belief in a certainty while meditation could include gratitude for fortuitous happenstance.

    Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
    "A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain "
    ~"If that's not sufficient for you go soak your head."~Faith
    Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.~Proverbs 28:26

    This message is a reply to:
     Message 12 by ProtoTypical, posted 01-04-2017 9:06 PM ProtoTypical has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 16 by ProtoTypical, posted 01-07-2017 10:58 AM Phat has responded

      
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 2896
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 3.5


    (2)
    Message 15 of 35 (796839)
    01-05-2017 10:11 AM
    Reply to: Message 13 by Phat
    01-05-2017 8:18 AM


    Re: Balance
    Phat writes:

    ... five core values which all worked synergistically to get our heads straight:

    • Balance
    • Accountability
    • Leverage
    • Interdependence
    • Empowerment

    Sounds pretty much what I'm attempting to describe as "safety" and "confidence."

    It's only half the point though, understanding that such mental-requirements exist.
    The other point is also very important - that the physical needs to meet these mental requirements can be different from person to person... and that this is expected and encouraged, not frowned upon.

    Maybe Phat needs God to feel the required level of Accountability to be healthy.
    Maybe someone else needs their respected boss for the same mental feeling.
    Maybe someone else needs something else entirely.

    These differences are only to indicate that "the feeling of Accountability" is required... not to indicate that any one source is better or best or wrong or anything like that.

    When it comes down to it... "the feeling of Accountability" is similar to "the feeling of a favourite colour."

    They may be because of our historical experiences, perhaps our physical DNA, maybe our current brain configuration - or likely a combination of all such things.

    The point isn't to figure out why it's different and make it the same for everyone.
    The point is to accept that it's different, and understand that it's okay for different people to need different things.

    This is easy for people to accept for favourite colours. No one cares if Phat's favourite colour is red and Stile's is blue.
    Why do people care so much if Phat needs God and Stile does not?

    Regardless of whether or not Phat or Stile is colourblind - no one cares about a favourite colour choice.
    Regardless of whether or not God actually exists - why do people care so much about a religious choice?

    Fundamentally - the personal decision comes down to a feeling:
    - Phat feels red is best, Stile feels blue is best.
    - Phat feels God is best, Stile feels no God is best.

    Remember... the context here is not whether or not God actually exists (I can understand the contention there...)
    The context here is whether or not someone can have a feeling that makes them personally content and happy.

    Why bother about what someone else feels in order to be content and happy?

    I think that some people simply have trouble separating such a context.
    They can understand someone can have a different favourite colour - because that feeling isn't personally important to them.
    They do not want to understand that someone can have a different religion - because that feeling is very personally important to them.

    This leads to a fear of not-being-valid (If someone else chooses differently, is my choice invalid?)

    The important idea is to remember that no choice is invalid. Just as there is no objective "favourite colour" feeling... there is no objective "favourite religion" feeling - they are different for different people.

    The ONLY difference is that one is socially deemed unimportant, and the other is deemed socially very important.

    But our personal mental-health has no concerns over what society deems important, it only cares about the state of your personal mental health.

    If you spend your time focusing your mental state on aligning with socially-accepted ideas... you'll eventually find yourself contradicting on something that needs to be a personally-accepted idea.

    Figure out and accept your own personally-accepted ideas.
    Allow others to have their own personally-accepted ideas.

    You'll be mentally healthier, less worrisome and more focused for it.

    I still find the topic extremely difficult to discuss. I find that my ideas do not want to become formed into proper sentences.
    This is generally an indication that I haven't thought about and fully developed my own ideas on the topic, yet


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