We must seek and find God in the joys of human love, in the exhilaration of a sunset, starlight, a heavy snow bending the branches of evergreens in winter, in a fireplace at the end of a perfect day.Â All reality is a reflection of God, and God dwells in a deeper mode of existence, in all things. . . . all reality is a participant in his existence and in his beauty.
Almighty God, from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed, kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all people the true love of peace, and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom those who take counsel for the nations of the earth; that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward, till the earth be filled with the knowledge of your love.
The shepherd knows what pastures are best for his sheep, and they must not question nor doubt, but trustingly follow him. Perhaps he sees that the best pastures for some of us are to be found in the midst of opposition or of earthly trials. If he leads you there, you may be sure they are green for you, and you will grow and be made strong by feeding there.
The decision to love challenges us to express love according to Godâs will, not our whims.Â And when we love with his guidance and counsel, he will give us the means to remain faithful as spouses, parents, and friends.Â He will free us to see and experience the love others have for us.
Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear; rather look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them.Â He has kept you hitherto, do you but hold fast to his dear hand, and he will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, he will bear you in his arms.Â Do not look forward to what may happen to-morrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you to-morrow, and every day.Â Either he will shield you from suffering, or he will give you unfailing strength to bear it.Â Be at peace then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
God, like a sojourner called forth from your garden, I abide upon this maternal soil to be a transparent messenger of your peace.Â Therefore, my will and my life I entrust into your hands.Â Mold me as you see fit for whatever you give me.Â I am grateful.Â Whatever you send me, I accept.Â Sustain me only with your wisdom and your love so that all whom I meet on this journey home may see through me to you.
Nothing is small or great in Godâs sight; whatever he wills becomes great to us, however seemingly trifling, and if once the voice of conscience tells us that he requires anything of us, we have no right to measure its importance . . . . Be sure that if you do your very best in that which is laid upon you daily, you will not be left without sufficient help when some weightier occasion arises.Â Give yourself to him, trust him, fix your eye upon him, listen to his voice, and then go on bravely and cheerfully.
Oh, when we turn away from some duty or some fellow-creature, saying that our hearts are too sick and sore with some great yearning of our own, we may often sever the line on which a divine message was coming to us.Â We shut out the person, and we shut out the angel who had sent him or her on to open the door . . . There is a plan working in our lives; and if we keep our hearts quiet and our eyes open, it all works together; and, if we donât, it all fights together, and goes on fighting till it comes right, somehow, somewhere.
The remarkable thing about the way in which people talk about God, or about their relation to God, is that it seems to escape them completely that God hears what they are saying.Â A man says:Â âAt the moment I have not the time or the necessary recollection to think about God, but later on perhaps.âÂ Or better stillâa young man says, âI am too young now; first of all I will enjoy lifeâand then.âÂ Would it be possible to talk like that if one realized that God heard one?
What inexpressible joy for me, to look up through the apple blossom and the fluttering leaves, and to see Godâs love there; to listen to the thrush that has built his nest among them, and to feel Godâs love, who cares for the birds, in every note that swells his little throat; to look beyond to the bright blue depths of the sky, and feel they are a canopy of blessingâthe roof of the house of my Father; that if clouds pass over it, it is the unchangeable light they veil; that, even when the day itself passes, I shall see that the night itself only unveils new worlds of light; and to know that if I could unwrap fold after fold of Godâs universe, I should only unfold more and more blessing, and see deeper and deeper into the love which is at the heart of all.
God is with me in my troubles, to be an infinitely greater joy.Â He is with me in my losses, to be a gain beyond all calculation.Â He is with me in my longings for good and peace, for large measures of truth and love, to answer them; for he has inspired me with these longings.Â He is with us when we go wrong to show us the error of our ways, when we go right to give us the satisfaction and the reward, to visit with encouragement and to show still larger openings in the same direction.
Begin the day by offering it and yourself to God.Â Look at the day as an individual thing that begins and ends with completeness in itself; then take this thing, this day and offer it to God to be a day for his use. . . . The day at once becomes a unity and life becomes unified.Â However many distracting details come into the day, both mind and emotion are dominated, not by them, but by the sense that you have only one thing to doânamely, to act in obedience to God with regard to them.
We ought not to open the doors of our souls to God only at special times and seasons.Â We think wrongly of him when we suppose him to be responsive only to our specially religious moods.Â The heart of God lies about our lives as closely as the air.Â There is no smallest act or thought that does not echo itself in him.Â And this Divine presence is intensely sympathetic.Â It is not the mere oversight of a judge, registering praise and blame.Â It is the companionship of one who rejoices in all our joy, and suffers in all our pain.Â There is no glad heart-beat in the world that the Almighty heart does not beat with gladness in response.Â There is no little childâs cry of sorrow over its broken toy, that a more-than-motherâs love does not catch.
God makes his home in you.Â They are not empty words.Â It is true.Â âMake your home in me, as I make mine in you.âÂ This is prayer.Â Isnât this the answer to all our yearning, our searching, our anguish, to all the longing, the incompleteness of our lives and of our loving?Â Until we dwell in him and allow him to dwell in us we shall be strangers to peace.
A root set in the finest soil, in the best climate, and blessed with all that sun and air and rain can do for it, is not in so sure a way of its growth to perfection, as every person may be, whose spirit aspires after all that which God is ready and infinitely desires to give him or her. For the sun meets not the springing bud that stretches towards him with half that certainty, as God, the source of all good, communicates himself to the soul that longs to partake of him.
Instead of allowing yourself to be so unhappy, just let your love grow as God wants it to grow; seek goodness in others, love more persons more; love them more personally, more unselfishly, without thought of return.Â The return, never fear, will take care of itself.
We all need Godâs Grace for times in our lives when we attempt to put God and his timing on hold.Â Yet God has made himself available to us every minute of the day.Â We are privileged to call out to him no matter how severe or miniscule our situation.Â His grace is sufficient for each of usâat all times.Â He never runs out.Â It is up to us to open our eyes each morning and reach out to the Giver of all Grace.
It is people that God cares about.Â He wants them to understand their lives and to find happiness.Â He wants nothing from them except that they allow themselves to grow.Â Godâs law is not a code arbitrarily imposed on people to restrict their freedom unreasonably.Â It was intended as a guide to happiness.
I have to be honest in asking myself:Â Do I really want to know and do Godâs will?Â Or is it rather that I want God to do my will?Â Do I go to God with the assurance that I want only to know and do his will?Â Or do I rather first make my own plans and then insist that God make my dreams come true?
What a vast proportion of our lives is spent in anxious and useless forebodings concerning the futureâeither our own or those of our loved ones.Â Present joys, present blessings, slip by, and we miss half their sweet flavor, and all for want of faith in him who provides for the tiniest insect in the sunbeam. . . . Why canât we, slipping our hand into his each day, walk trustingly over that dayâs appointed path, thorny or flowery, crooked or straight, knowing that evening will bring us to sleep, peace, and home?
For ages we struggled on the surface of this small but beautiful planet to eke out what has been for most of us the meagerest of livings, and for many of us a travesty of what we are meant to be.Â Now the Song comes forth stronger and more clearly than before:Â âYou are divine and have the heritage of the most Holy.Â Awaken; rise above your toil and come to the light, here to dance and play and live free of all that once held you back.â
No one has any more time than you have.Â It is the discipline and stewardship of your time that is important.Â The management of time is the management of self; therefore, if you manage time with God, he will begin to manage you.
To be out of harmony with the things, acts, and events, which God in his providence has seen fit to array around usâthat is to say, not to meet them in a humble, believing, and thankful spiritâis to turn from God.Â And, on the other hand, to see in them the developments of Godâs presence, and of the divine will, and to accept that will, is to turn in the opposite direction, and to be in union with him.
We need to affirm and cling to the truth that Godâs omnipresent spirit is intimately with and within each of us.Â Our God is big enough to care for world peace and all of the worldâs bigger problemsâthough our efforts are absolutely criticalâand small enough, intimate enough, to care for you and me and our yearnings for inner and interpersonal peace.
We have allowed our metaphysical and mystical powers to become stupefied.Â For this reason, we are no longer the children of God, but victims of the mechanical powers and functions of the economic cycle.Â Because the spirit has deserted us, we are nothing more than consumers and consumed.Â Because there no longer exists for us any absolute value, we are worth only so much as we pay and are paid.
The power in the dream God dreams for you is stronger than the weight of tradition, mightier than the force of history.Â The right kind of dream can liberate an entire nation or emancipate a life from any negative circumstances.
If I speak with the eloquence of people and of angels but have no love, I become nothing more than blaring brass or crashing cymbal.Â If I have the gift of foretelling the future and hold in my hand not only all human knowledge but the very secrets of God, and if I also have that absolute faith which can move mountains, but have no love, I amount to nothing at all.
Conformity to othersâ ideas of serving God means little to us, for our uppermost duty and interest is in pleasing God by finding and doing what he has called us to do.Â In doing so we are filled with a renewed spirit.Â We will experience a radiant joy in the simple things of everyday living, in doing things that are part of our specific assignment by God, not by someone else.
Itâs been said that faith may move mountains, but prayer moves God.Â Amazing, isnât it, that our prayers, whether grand and glorious or feeble and faint, can move the very heart of God who created the universe?Â To walk with God we must make it a practice to talk with God.
It is not wrong to tell the Lord that we want something, but it shows a greater faith if we simply say, âHeavenly Father, I know that you anticipate my every need.Â Sustain me according to your will.â
There is not a flower that opens, not a seed that falls into the ground, and not an ear of wheat that nods on the end of its stalk in the wind that does not preach and proclaim the greatness and the mercy of God to the whole world.
True happiness is to understand our duties toward God and people; to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future; not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears, but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is abundantly sufficient.
If you really believe in the existence of God you should be happy and cheerful.Â Even if conditions for the time being are difficult or repugnant, you should understand that such things can only be a temporary picture.Â God has all power, and God is good; so life must be good too.Â Once you know this, it can only be a matter of time before you will demonstrate both health and happiness.Â Meet the world with a smile.Â You owe this to God, to fellow people, and, above all, to yourself.
Theoretically, religion wishes to make people serene and inwardly peaceful by reaching a loving and forgiving God.Â But in practice, there is too much undissolved wrath and punishment in most religions.
If we perform our spiritual work with a good attitude, we become receptive to grace.Â Grace is simply whatever brings us closer to God.Â We can think of grace as a constant showering of manna from heaven.Â Grace is food for the soul.Â Itâs what enables us to come even closer to and ever more into God.
I will not pray that each day be a perfect day, but I will pray not to lapse into indifference.Â I will not pray that each time I shall build both strong and true; but imperfect, I will pray for impulse that I may build anew.
Incline us, O God! to think humbly of ourselves, to be saved only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow-creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with the charity which we would desire from them ourselves.
We all long for heaven where God is, but we have it in our power to be in heaven with him right nowâto be happy with him at this very moment.Â But being happy with him now means loving like he loves, helping like he helps, giving as he gives, serving as he serves, rescuing as he rescues, being with him twenty-four hours a dayâtouching him in his distressing disguise.
Many think themselves to be truly God-fearing when they call this world a valley of tears.Â But I believe they would be more so, if they called it a happy valley.Â God is more pleased with those who think everything right in the world, than with those who think nothing right.Â With so many thousand joys, is it not black ingratitude to call the world a place of sorrow and torment?
Be not constantly overanxious about your common needs.Â Be not apprehensive concerning the problems of your earthly existence, but in all these things by prayer and supplication, with the spirit of sincere thanksgiving, let your needs be spread out before your Father who is in heaven.
Before itâs too late, and time is running out, let us turn from trust in the chain reactions of exploding atoms to faith of the chain reaction of Godâs love.Â Loveâlove of God and fellow people.Â That is Godâs formula for peace.
We ought not to let ourselves be satisfied with the God we thought of, for when the thought slips our mind, that God slips with it.Â What we want is rather the reality of God, exalted far above any thought or creature.
When we speak our words to God with thanksgiving, and release them with the faith that our requests will be granted, we put ourselves in a position to receive. God does not change and natureâs laws are absolute and impartial. Thus, prayer has the potential for changing us. It connects us with Godâs spirit, and it is the key to his kingdom. Whatever your religious persuasion, itâs a good thing to start every day with prayer.
When you have shut your doors, and darkened your room, remember never to say that you are alone; for God is within and your genius is within, and what need have they of light to see what you are doing? Epictetus
True humility is intelligent self-respect which keeps us from thinking too highly or meanly of ourselves. It makes us mindful of the nobility God meant us to have. Yet it makes us modest by reminding us how far we have come short of what we can be.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be.
How wonderful is the human voice! It is indeed the organ of the soul! The intellect of humans sits enthroned visibly upon the forehead and in their eyes; and the hearts of people are written upon their countenance. But the soul reveals itself in the voice only, as God revealed himself to the prophet of old, in the âstill, small voice,â and in a voice from the burning bush. The souls of humans are audible, not visible. A sound alone betrays the flowing of the eternal fountain, invisible to people!
After years of deep theological study, Bible school degrees, and eons of church attendance, we finally discovered only a few years back something that changed our lives dramatically: God is a joyful person! What a difference it makes to know that God is smiling, not frowning, on his children; to know. . . he has placed a little bit of his joy in our lives today. The real question, then, is: What are we going to do with that joy?
Until recently, many of us were taught to see God as unapproachable and far away. Now we are realizing that the Infinite Intelligence that governs all of creation is also in us. The presence we have been searching for outside ourselves is actually a part of our own consciousness. It is time for each of us to retrieve that lost divinity, to look within and touch that source that has been there all along. The love you experience will tell you that you have come home.
Love all Godâs creation, both the whole and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of light. Love the animals, love the plants, love each separate thing. If you love each thing you wilt perceive the mystery of God in all; and when once you perceive this, you wilt thenceforward grow every day to a fuller understanding of it: until you come at last to love the whole world with a love that will then be all-embracing and universal.
God is the essence of life. Always present. Always knowing. Forever giving us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it. Unfortunately, far too many of us believe that God only provides for the good people, because God likes them for being good. And, if we believe that we have not always been good, chances are we also believe that God is not always blessing us. Nothing could be further from the truth! God is the grace in which we live.
We can learn to look for laughter and joy in the many ordinary places where we go. When I go to our post office in the morning, the cement on the sidewalk outside is just plain blah gray. But if I go in the afternoon, when the sun hits it, the cement sparkles with a million transient diamonds! So, I usually go in the afternoon, looking for the joy that can bounce off that cement right into my life, to remind me of the sparkles all around us, if we are willing to look for them. But I repeat, you have to LOOK for the joy. Look for the light of God that is hitting your life, and you will find sparkles you didnât know were there.
One must hope that each of us might increase our capacity for greater humility, that we might become more mature and hence give more of ourselves, and, in a broad sense, love more effectively. These are the virtues that are cardinal in every religion and hence are the centers of interest of the rabbi and the priest and the minister in each of his or her parishioners. I happen to be one of those physicians who believe that these virtues are the center of our focus. In advocating this necessity to learn to love more effectively, one is mindful of the fact that every religion has taught us that God is loveâand that it is from him that one can gain strength.
Prayer is a force as real as terrestrial gravity. As a physician, I have seen people, after all other therapy had failed, lifted out of disease and melancholy by the serene effort of prayer. Only in prayer do we achieve that complete and harmonious assembly of body, mind and spirit which gives the frail human reed its unshakable strength.
When you have no helpers, see all your helpers in God. When you have many helpers, see God in all your helpers. When you have nothing but God, see all in God; when you have everything, see God in everything. Under all conditions, stay thy heart only on the Lord.
Our children, relations, friends, honors, houses, lands, and endowments, the goods of nature and fortune, nay, even of grace itself, are only lent. It is our misfortune, and our sin to fancy they are given. We start, therefore, and are angry when the loan is called in. We think ourselves masters, when we are only stewards, and forget that to each of us it will one day be said, âGive an account of thy stewardship.â
When you know that God is in charge, the polite thing to do is to mind your own business! Donât go sticking your nose into things that God is doing on this day. This is Godâs day! Listen to your own heart, in case God has something special to say to you. When your day belongs to God, you have only one thing to do, that is, to know. You must know that you can depend on God. You must know that whatever comes your way is coming through God first and that by the time it gets to you, you will know exactly what to do or say. So relax! This is Godâs day! You gave this day of your life to God. Now donât take it back!
Religion is not a hearsay, a presumption, a supposition; it is not a customary pretension and profession; it is not an affectation of any mode; it is not a piety of particular fancy, consisting of some pathetic devotions, vehement expressions, bodily severities, affected anomalies, and aversion from the innocent usages of others; but consists in a profound humility, and a universal charity.
Godâs spirit within me guides, strengthens, and sustains me despite any outer appearance of confusion. Each day I have the opportunity to live and grow, to learn and teach, to love and be loved in this world. Yet, at times, I may face circumstances that do not seem to hold even a glimmer of anything that will enrich my life or the lives of my loved ones. I donât give up or give in! Not when I know and affirm: The powerful presence of God is within me. This is a gentle reminder that God is always with me wherever I am. Blessings are unfolding around me, and each new day carries opportunities for greater growth, prosperity, and wisdom.
If you were to take the sum total of all the authoritative articles ever written by the most qualified of psychologists and psychiatrists on the subject of mental hygiene, if you were to combine them and refine them and cleave out the excess verbiage, if you were to take the whole of the meat and none of the parsley, and if you were to have these unadulterated bits of pure scientific knowledge concisely expressed by the most capable of living poets, you would have an awkward and incomplete summation of the Sermon on the Mount.
God alone can fully and always hear the voice that the earth utters to the sky in the many tongues of its many waters. But he sends us people sometimes to whom he has given such ears in their soul that they can perceive some of the meaning of the worldâs great sea voice, and they are able to translate for us some of the music and the magic of the sea-soul of the earth. These people are painters or poets, or musicians, and they can hear more than most of us, far more than we hear at the coast, of the great seaâs musical mystery, the strange trouble of the weird waters, and the moving oceanâs mighty joy. And they sing for us, these people, what the sea says, and their voice is beautiful and wonderful.
The midnight hour is a difficult period in a personâs life. . . . no matter what midnight hour youâre faced with, God can give you strength to live with it. Always remember that when you pray, God is working on your behalf. No matter what the midnight situation is, if you stay armed with prayer, God has a prescription for you. He will either remove it or give you the necessary strength to live through it. Therefore, rest in the knowledge that none of your prayers go unnoticed because through prayer you invoke Godâs power to work in your life.
As you pray and spend more time contacting your Higher Power, the feeling and conviction may grow within you that much, much more is possible spiritually than you ever allowed. Regardless of who you are and what youâve done, an Ocean of Comfort, Love, and Truth is available to you. You have the power within you to realize God.
Prayer is a kind of calling home every day. And there can come to you a serenity, a feeling of at-homeness in Godâs universe, a peace that the world can neither give nor disturb, a fresh courage, a new insight, a holy boldness that youâll never, never get any other way.
We need to learn ways of praying which are compatible with the maturing of our minds and our faith. . . . No one should be content to remain at one level in the life of prayer nor should we abandon prayer even when prayer seems impossible. When we do not know how or what to pray, this too should be part of our prayer.
Every individual is a king in the castle of his or her own mind. As king of our own thoughts we can think those thoughts which will make us unhappy and fearful monarchs, or we can make our reigns joyous and harmonious by listening to the Father within ourselves before making decisions.
It is part of the Jewish High Holidays that you cannot face the new year without having something deep and important take place inside you, a psychological process that religion has called atonement. Too many people are seeking a sense of âat-one-mentâ with God without paying the price of atonement for their thoughtless, selfish and often wicked deeds. They cry out in anguish for peaceâeace of mind, peace of soul, world peaceâwithout understanding that these are not goals to be sought in and for themselves, but rather the by-products of just and righteous living.
It is certain that whatever seeming calamity happens to you, if you thank and praise God for it, you turn it into a blessing. Could you therefore work miracles, you could not do more for yourself, than this thankful spirit, for it heals with a word speaking, and turns all that it touches into happiness.
God uses simple things and ordinary moments to reveal himself to us, if only we had the eyes to see and the ears to hear him. Everything has meaning because everything speaks of God and points toward God. When we see God everywhere, our faith in him grows deeper. We can see him in the sunrise and in the sunset, in the rainbow and in the storm clouds, in smiles and in tears, in the humblest wayside flower and in the face of our neighbor. God is always present, but often we are not aware of him because we are so busy running here and there, so occupied with daily matters, that we have become deaf to his voice calling us, guiding us day by day along the path he has chosen for us.
Probably the greatest result of the life of prayer is an unconscious but steady growth into the knowledge of the mind of God and into conformity with his will; for after all, prayer is not so much the means whereby Godâs will is bent to peopleâs desires, as it is that whereby peopleâs wills are bent to Godâs desires.
Silence is listening with all our might to God. This is prayer at its best. We must learn to be still and listen. We get away from scandals and rumors and judgments and through the practice of silent communion we begin to know the power of prayer. In silence we can close our minds to what the world thinks is desirable. The babble of the world is drowned out so we can hear the voice of the Spirit. We must be faithful to the practice of silence and we will reap rich rewards.
Do your words rain down comfort? Love chooses to cover instead of condemn. Jobâs choice confronts us daily. Some people provoke us to exchange blow for blow, gossip for gossip, curse for curse, rebuke for rebuke. To speak as Jobâs comforters spoke requires no wisdom or strength from God. That kind of speech comes naturally. But if we choose to use our words to encourage and comfort, we will need supernatural strength. God is ready when you are.
I am happy in having learned to distinguish between ownership and possession. Books, pictures, and all the beauty of the world belong to those who love and understand themnot usually to those who possess them. All of these things that I am entitled to have I haveI own by divine right. So I care not a bit who possesses them.
Its hard for us to accept the fact that our priorities are not the same as Gods. We attach too much importance to things like popularity, wealth, and political success. To him problems that often seem most important to us at the time are really not very significant. But God trusts us to make the best use of the time we have . . . and to make our lives meaningful and beneficial to others no matter where we are.
My every thought, my every action, is a moment in which divine support comes to me. I am never alone, never an exile, never a stranger from the heart of God. The heart of God holds me within its bountiful soil. I blossom there, rooted in faith, fed by the nutrients of divine love.
I had learned many years ago to release my problems to God, something I had to do often in all our political years when I was trying to do so many different things at once. Here it is, God. You take it. I cant handle it alone, I would say. It helped me through the good times and the bad. I knew that God loved me. I had found Gods love a shield around me in the midst of controversy or letdowns.
Giving the gift of myself in love leaves me with a deep and lasting satisfaction of having done something good with my life. I live with the sweet memory of having contributed a gift of love to the lives of others. Likewise I am left with a sense of having used well the gifts which God has invested in me. Love takes time, demands a history of giving and receiving, laughing and crying, living and dying. It never promises instant gratification, only ultimate fulfillment. Love means believing in someone, in something.
The glory of God is great. He is real and he can be found. Silently and surely as you walk on the path of life, you must come to the realization that God is the only object, the only goal that will satisfy you; for in God lies the answer to every desire of the human heart.
The church is never a place, but always a people; never a fold but always a flock, never a sacred building but always a believing assembly. The church is you who pray, not where you pray. A structure of brick or marble can no more be a church than your clothes of serge or satin can be you. There is in this world nothing sacred but humans, no sanctuary of God but the soul.
There is no portion of our time that is our time, and the rest Gods; there is no portion of money that is our money, and the rest Gods money. It is all his; he made it all, gives it all, and he has simply trusted it to us for his service. A servant has two purses, the masters and his or her own, but we have only one.
To value riches is not to be covetous. They are the gift of God, and, like every gift of his, good in themselves, and capable of good use. But to overvalue riches, to give them a place in the heart which God did not design them to fill, this is covetousness.
How do I let go and let God? The first step might be to imagine how it would look and feel. Here is how the picture might look: I am relaxedletting go any thoughts of a worrisome situation that may have been nagging me. I feel the relief as tension in my forehead vanishes and my mind clears. I let that relief spread down and loosen any tightness in my neck and shoulders. Now, I allow the relief to settle my stomach and flow down to the soles of my feet. I focus on a close-up of my facejust look at how it radiates with peace. I know that the presence of God is within me and goes before me everywhere I go. I see all the people around me filled with the presence of God. Yes, I have created a true picture of letting go and letting God. Now I let this picture become my reality.
I would love to have a more earnest prayer life! In my life, prayer is the single most difficult discipline. I love God and theres something in me that would rather do things for God than talk to God. Im not by nature a mystical, devotional person. I like to do things. And so its a challenge for me to have a faithful prayer life, but I know God loves me and hes not mad at me. He just wishes I would slow down and turn things over to him. And thats what I think you achieve through prayer.
You are a child of the universe, fearfully and wonderfully made. In the history of creation, there has never been anyone like you. Accept this reality about yourselfthat you are a special, unique human being who has a place on this earth that no one else can fill. Acknowledge yourself as a glorious expression of your loving Creator. This healthy self-love will form the foundation of a joyful and satisfying life. Then, as you love and accept yourself, your inner light will shine outward to bless and heal your fellow human beings.
It is important not to lose sight of the fact that we are Gods messengers. The purpose of the message or the work we do belongs to God. Once you try to determine who should get the message, how they should receive it and what the response should be, the purpose, power and efficacy of the message can be lost. Until today, you may have judged the importance of what you were saying about life or doing in life in response to the number of people who agreed with and supported you. Just for today, be the messenger. Let your life be the proof that the messages you receive are real.
My prayers seem to be more of an attitude than anything else. I indulge in very little lip service, but ask the Great Creator silently, daily, and often many times a day, to permit me to speak to him through the three great Kingdoms of the world which he has created the animal, mineral, and vegetable Kingdoms to understand their relations to each other, and our relations to them and to the Great God who made all of us. I ask him daily and often momently to give me wisdom, understanding, and bodily strength to do his will; hence I am asking and receiving all the time.
In our busy lives we often overlook Gods presence. We can be so out of practice at listening to him that we fail to recognize his voice and then we miss out on his guidance and grace. Have you ever found yourself asking, Who was that? only later to realize that it was indeed God?
It isnt so urgent. . . whether you believe in God as whether he can believe in you. If you will conduct yourself in a manner that might encourage him to believe in you, the time may come when you feel that you should return the compliment.
Brother- and sisterhood must have a religious basis if it is to have any real significance. Without faith in the fatherhood of God. . . people have a hard time being brotherly or sisterly. They drift off into hate societies, or more often, into the society of the indifferent.
I once heard a sermon in which the priest said that most of us confess the same sins again and again. It was such a welcome relief for me to hear these words because I thought that I was the only one who was unable to overcome these chronic sins and shortcomings. Because we keep these wounded aspects of ourselves so well hidden from others, we assume that we are unique in failing to overcome them, but we are not. Hence, the good news is twofold. First, the overwhelming majority of us face a few areas of ongoing struggle, so you and I are not moral anomalies when we experience recurring setbacks. Second, God is with us in the struggle, always offering us love, acceptance, and forgiveness with the hope that we, in turn, will offer love, acceptance, and forgiveness to ourselves.
It is interesting to note that even Jefferson never proposed happiness as an inalienable right. Our constitution talks of a right only for the pursuit of happiness. Ours for the seeking and the winning! Not free. Happiness is the result, the product, of endeavor. Never God-given. Happiness is only God-permitted.
If you ask me how I believe in God, how God creates himself in me, and reveals himself to me, my answer may provoke your smiles or laughter, and even scandalize you. I believe in God as I believe in my friends, because I feel his invisible and tangible hand drawing me, leading me, grasping me.
Instead of allowing yourself to be so unhappy, just let your love grow as God wants it to grow; seek goodness in others, love more persons more; love them more impersonally, more unselfishly, without thought of return. The return, never fear, will take care of itself.
When I ask our Lord to let me do something for him before I die, that I may not appear before him with empty hands, he makes me understand that one act of love gives him greater glory than anything else.
It is not always easy to choose the Higher Will; often we have to give up that which the ego holds most dear. But as we release our attachments, we are reborn to a larger reality where true happiness and peace abound. That is why spiritual seekers have always affirmed: Not my will, but thine, be done. State your willingness to let that Higher Power work through you for the highest good of yourself and others. Meditating on the following words will help you to attain this goal: The Lord makes known His will to me, and I joyfully obey. Spirit guides my every step and love reveals the way.
Prayer is the chief agency and activity whereby people align themselves with Gods purpose. Prayer does not consist in battering the walls of heaven for personal benefits or the success of our plans. Rather it is the committing of ourselves for the carrying out of His purposes. It is a telephone call to headquarters for orders. It is not bending Gods will to ours, but our will to Gods. In prayer, we tap vast reservoirs of spiritual power whereby God can find fuller entrance into the hearts of humans.
The people of our nation and the people of the whole world need to be gripped by the moral imperatives which grow out of the nature of God, by a sense of right, by principles of truth, and by ideals of decency. Nothing is more needed by this world than a revival of simple goodness and genuine uprightness.
All progress is made by people of faith who believe in what is right and, what is more important, actually do what is right in their own private affairs. You cannot add to the peace and good will of the world if you fail to create an atmosphere of harmony and love right where you live and work.
All the world is searching for joy and happiness, but these cannot be purchased for any price in any marketplace, because they are virtues that come from within, and like rare jewels must be polished, for they shine brightest in the light of faith, and in the service of brotherly love.
How often we look upon God as our last and feeblest resource! We go to him because we have nowhere else to go. And then we learn that the storms of life have driven us, not upon the rocks, but into the desired haven.
It is true that we cannot see the wind except when the leaves rustle on the trees, or when fields of long grasses dance, or tall poplars bend their backs. In other words, we can see the wind when it touches something. The force of God . . . is much the same. Sometimes it winds its way gently into our lives. Sometimes the force is so strong that it blows into our lives like a full gale-force tornado, knocking us off our feet and in a moment forever changing our way of being and thinking.
I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of humankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free. I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individuals highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with his will. I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.
If desert-dwellers were suddenly to discover a spring in their tent, and so would always be able to have water in abundance, how fortunate they would consider themselvesso too, when people, who as physical beings are always turned outside themselves, finally turn inward and discover that the source is within themselves; not to mention their discovery that the source is their relation to God.
Young people say, What is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that they must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action in the present moment. But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions, and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.
It seems to be a general belief that the will of God is to make things distasteful for us, like taking bad-tasting medicine when we are sick, or going to the dentist. Somebody needs to tell us that the sunrise is also Gods will. There is the time of harvest, the harvest which will provide food and clothes for us, without which life could not be sustained on earth. God ordered the seasonsthey are his will. In fact, the good things in life far outweigh the bad. There are more sunrises than cyclones.
Prayer is the most powerful form of energy one can generate. The influence of prayer on the human mind and body is as demonstrable as that of the secreting glands. Prayer is a force as real as terrestrial gravity. It supplies us with a flow of sustaining power in our daily lives.
A new day rose upon me. It was as if another sun had risen into the sky; the heavens were indescribably brighter, and the earth fairer; and that day has gone on brightening to the present hour. I have known the other joys of life, I suppose, as much as most people; I have known art and beauty, music and gladness; I have known friendship and love and family ties; but it is certain that until we see God in the worldGod in the bright and boundless universewe never know the highest joy.
If you find it difficult to love the human in someone, then love the divine in him or her. The divine in that person is God. God exists in that person just as God exists in you. To love God is extremely easy because God is divine and perfect. Each time you look at an individual, if you can consciously become aware of Gods existence in him or her, then you will not be disturbed by his or her imperfections or limitations.
For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet. . . . Shall we think of today as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of him who has fed us so long?
The more I focused on lack and on what I couldnt have, the more depressed I became. The more depressed I became, the more I focused on lack. My soul whispered that what I really yearned for was not financial security but financial serenity. I was stillquiet enough to listen. At that moment I acknowledged the deep longing in my heart. What I hungered for was an inner peace that the world could not take away. I asked for help and committed to following wheresoever Spirit would lead me. For the first time in my life I discarded my five-year goals and became a seeker, a pilgrim, a sojourner. When I surrendered my desire for security and sought serenity instead, I looked at my life with open eyes. I saw that I had much for which to be grateful. I felt humbled by my riches and regretted that I took for granted the abundance that already existed in my life. How could I expect more from the universe when I didnt appreciate what I already had?
Time mellows people as it mellows wine, as long as the grapes are good. You may set out to be a businesswoman or businessman but in the course of time end up caring for a dying parent, orphaned niece, or disabled brother. You may encounter illness yourself and end up being a writer, touching the heartstrings, not the purse strings of other people. Thats why its best to always be true to yourself and God and to be flexible within his will. He will use you.
God has so ordered, that in pressing on in duty we shall find the truest, richest comfort for ourselves. Sitting down to brood over our sorrows, the darkness deepens about us and creeps into our heart, and our strength changes to weakness. But, if we turn away from the gloom, and take up the tasks and duties to which God calls us, the light will come again, and we shall grow stronger.
Most mornings when I awake, I am pleasantly surprised to find Im still alive. On occasion I have been known to wake up mean and irritable, but even then I can choose not to stay that way. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may not come. Today is the only slot of time I really have. What a shame to blow it. I want to make today the very best possible. . . . Before I crawl out of bed, I thank the Lord for another day and ask for strength. Maybe Im to clean the house, or work at the office, or talk with a friend over lunch. The tasks arent the issue; my attitude is.
The religious need of the human mind remains alive, never more so, but it demands a teaching which can be understood. Slowly an apprehension of the intimate, usable power of God is growing among us, and a growing recognition of the only worth-while application of that powerin the improvement of the world.
This morning I stood on the river bank to pray. I knew then that the ancient ones were wise to pray for peace and beauty and not for specific gifts except fertility which is continued life. And I saw that if one has even a small degree of the ability to take into and unto him or herself the peace and beauty that God surrounds them with, it is not necessary to ask for more.
God has no office hours. There is never a time of day when God is unavailable. Day or night, summer or winter, God is always presentalways ready to heal, to comfort, to inspire. It is not possible that you could turn to God in prayer without receiving help. It is not possible that you could ever find yourself anywhere where God was not fully present, fully active, able and willing to set you free from any difficulty. The one thing that is required is that you shall turn to him whole-heartedly, and that you shall expect him to act. . . . If you turn to God in prayer, without tension, without vehemence, but quietly, steadily, and persistently, results will come.
There is no need to invent an ego that is separate from the divine if our basic human nature is trusted. If we trust ourselves, we know how to avoid interfering with nature and how to live in harmony. When we know God as an unseen, loving, and accepting power at the heart of everything, allowing us to make our own choices, then God is a trusted part of our nature.
We are all born with a belief in God. It may not have a name or face. We may not even see it as God. But it is there. It is the sense that comes over us as we stare into the starlit sky, or watch the last fiery rays of an evening sunset. It is the morning shiver as we wake on a beautiful day and smell a richness in the air that we know and love from somewhere we cant quite recall. It is the mystery behind the beginning of time and beyond the limits of space. It is a sense of otherness that brings alive something deep in our hearts.
We find by losing. We hold fast by letting go. We become something new by ceasing to be something old. This seems to be close to the heart of that mystery. I know no more now than I ever did about the far side of death as the last letting-go of all, but now I know that I do not need to know, and that I do not need to be afraid of not knowing. God knows. That is all that matters.
When praying for healing, ask great things of God and expect great things from God. But let us seek for that healing that really matters, the healing of the heart, enabling us to trust God simply, face God honestly, and live triumphantly.
I once heard a man say he knew there was a God, he just didnt think he needed him. It is nice to take care of yourself and be independent, but it is also nice to know that you have a resource to rely on in times of need. If you are used to fending entirely for yourself, then when a catastrophe occurs you will expend a lot of energy looking for help at a time when you need your energy for creative work.
Its consoling to know God not only doesnt sleep, but also doesnt even get drowsy. We can depend on him to attend to our every need twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. That gives us peace. Its a bitter pill to think that we let others down. We disappoint loved ones. We inconvenience people we care about. But how wonderful, how beautiful, how comforting to know we have a God who is always near to console and cheer, just when we need him most.
A mother was tucking her young son into bed. Have you said your prayers? she asked. No, the boy replied. Why not? the mother asked. Because there was nothing I wanted. We may smile at this story, but children arent the only ones to treat prayer as primarily a way of getting what they want. God does want us to bring our needs to him in prayer, but prayer is more than that. We come in prayer not to get God to do our will, but to open ourselves to doing his will.
Love is a way of seeing and a way of being that honors God in everyone we meet. And it changes us in the most fundamental way. All we need to do is welcome the challenge of our relationships, training our eyes to look beyond human behavior to the Presence within. When we seek to live love, we discover through our interactions with others the divinity within ourselves.
If joy were the only emotion God intended us to feel, he could just zap us and take us to heaven right now. Instead, we are left facing a dead end. At such moments God offers strength so that we wont give in to despair, but be salt in the world, ministering to those around us who are hurting too.
You become spiritually rich when you discover the riches of the kingdom within: when you have a consciousness of the oneness of all life; when you experience kinship with nature; when you are open to the buoyant spiritual lift of being in tune with the Infinite; when you know the power of meditation and prayer.
God doesnt expect us to perform for him. He loves us alwayswhen were disappointed or hurt or making a mess of things. Sometimes we speak to him in a language that only he can understand. What matters to him is that we are vulnerable, that we are completely ourselves. We are work, too, but God cherishes us.
Instead of allowing yourself to be so unhappy, just let your life grow as God wants it to grow; seek goodness in others, love more persons more; love them more impersonally, more unselfishly, without thought of return. The return, never fear, will take care of itself.
Are you aware that your spirit needs to be fed? Did you know that your spirit would be delighted to partake in a feast of spiritual food? How about a plate full of prayer? Or maybe a few hours of succulent self-reflection. Perhaps a piping-hot selection of spiritual literature, served by the side of a lake or under a tree, would satisfy your spiritual hunger. Can you imagine feasting for a few hours on spiritually uplifting music? What about some forgiveness à la mode, topped with compassion? You cannot imagine how much your spirit would enjoy it.
A thin line separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt. Our lives constantly walk that line. When we slip off on one side or the other, were taken by surprise. But who said there wouldnt be surprises? Knowing God just means that all the rules will be fair; at the end of our life drama, well see that. We never know how things will turn out, but if we know with certainty they will make sense regardless of how they turn out, were on to something.
Its tempting, when faced with a flaw of the spirit or other growth issue, to pray for and expect immediate change. Sometimes it happens. But how lost and confused we feel if our prayers dont bring the instant relief we seek. During such times, its good to remember that all facets of our naturewhether traits we love about ourselves or those we want to improveare part of our God-created being. Even our less-than-desirable parts are there for a reason and contain his lessons for us. When change seems to come slowly, dont give up hope. Consider that the timetable for your growth is in the Lords hands. Continue your daily communion with God and trust your spirit to be healed in his time.
Prayer works in the mind as a healing force. It calms the patient, enlightens the physician, guides the surgeon, and it often victoriously applies the power of the spirit when all seems lost. It proves, over and over again, the truth of Tennysons words: More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of. Prayer puts us on Gods side. It aligns us with lifes higher purposes, aims, and ideals. Prayer is dedicating our thought, feeling and action to the expression of goodness. It is to become like a window through which the light of God shines.
The key to contentment is to consider. Consider who you are and be satisfied with that. Consider what you have and be satisfied with that. Consider what Gods doing and be satisfied with that. You will be amazed at how much more comfortable youll feel with yourself. Finally, consider this: If contentment cannot be found within yourself, youll never find it.
There are those who in the name of God teach that you must deny yourself and seek only to serve others. Gods plan is more beautiful than that. You were created to express the will of God. This means that your highest dreams and aspirations are of God. By seeking these through the ways of the Lord you automatically do that which is best for all others.
It is not always easy to hear the truth, but . . . . the truth can lead us on to be better than we already are. When we walk in the truth, we are walking toward God. God is truth, and the more time we spend in honesty, the more time we spend with God. Not only should we seek out truth in others, but we should let others know that they will receive truth when they come to us. There is very little we could want more than for other people to be able to trust us. Trust is the cornerstone upon which solid and lasting friendships are built. We can do a person no greater service than to deal with them in truth and love.
When the hard times of life come, we know that no matter how tragic the circumstances seem, no matter how long the spiritual drought, no matter how long and dark the days, the sun is sure to break through; the dawn will come. The warmth of his assurance will hold us in an embrace once again, and we will know that our God has been there all along. We will hear him say, through it all, Hold on, my child, joy comes in the morning!
If we work upon marble it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; if we rear temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work on immortal minds, if we imbue them with principles, with just the fear of God and love of our fellow men, we engrave on those tablets something which will brighten all eternity.
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in number, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God! Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God who made us.
Temptations which accompany the working day will be conquered on the basis of the morning breakthrough to God. Decisions, demanded by work, become easier and simpler where they are made not in the fear of people, but only in the sight of God. He wants to give us today the power which we need for our work.
Gratitude is the heart of our religion. We pray on rising in the morning for a new day, for the beauty of the gift of life. We have regular prayer meetings, sweat lodgeswe call them the little brotherand Sun Dances, the big brother. The whole adds up to a cycle of praise. What else should human beings be if not praising beings?
I was driving down a familiar road one fall day when I almost drove off the road, the beauty was so intense. It looked as if God had sent in a team of the worlds finest artists overnightand I was privy to the opening day of his spectacle. As I slowly drove along this festive row, leaves danced in the air and brushed against my windshield. It seemed as if I had landed in Oz. I was strongly tempted to get out and clap at Gods imagination.
Freedom is as frightening now as it was thousands of years ago. It will always require a willingness to sacrifice what is most familiar for what is most true. To be free we may need to act from integrity, on trust, sometimes for a very long time. Few of us will reach our promised land in a day. But perhaps the most important part of the story is that God does not delegate this task. Whenever anyone moves toward freedom, God himself is there.
I never saw a moor; I never saw the sea; Yet know I how the heather looks, And what a wave must be. I never spoke with God, Nor visited in heaven; Yet certain am I of the spot As if the chart were given.
My relationship with God developed at an early age. I was raised on a remote little ranch, where I had for company and for the fullness of my life three other humans and an enormous amount of animals and land and sky and wind. As a child, my experience of God included everythinga love of the whole beauty around me. And the country was so beautiful: mountains that ended in aspen groves and streams, thick with wild animals and game of all kinds. One time I said to my mother, You know, I think heaven is just like this, only the animals would speak to us; they wouldnt be afraid of us.
How can I bring the feeling of Gods presence with me into everyday life? Perhaps I can make it a point, whenever I drive on the highway, or ride a bus or subway, or travel by air, to count the time as a gift. Instead of fretting about whats ahead of me or how long its taking me to get there, perhaps I can allow myself just to relax into the scene; to open the windows of my awareness and let it all in; to say, with my Creator, It is very good.
What keeps faith cheerful is the extreme persistence of gentleness and humor. Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music, and books, raising kidsall the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people. Lacking any other purpose in life, it would be good enough to live for their sake.
The most important element in human life is faith; if God were to take away all His blessingshealth, physical fitness, wealth, intelligenceand leave me with but one gift I would ask him for faith. For with faith in him and his goodness, mercy and love for me, and belief in everlasting life, I believe I could suffer the loss of all my other gifts and still be happy.
In all honesty, I may die of my illness, and I know that. But the most important thing to me is to leave something positive from it behind. Living, dying, physical healing, and non-physical healingare not the issue. The ultimate goal for me is to walk and live in the fullness of Gods love, in such a way that it may be a healing for all. To live is to lovenothing more and nothing less. I finally learned this.
There is a place for analysis, but it is apt to be quite fatal in prayer and meditation. Do not dissect the love of God, but feel it. Do not dissect divine intelligence, but realize it. Do not wonder how God can possibly solve this problem, but just watch him do it in his own wayand he will if you will give him a chance. You know that God is Love. So go ahead on that, and do not get theoretical about it.
There once was a child, and he strolled about a good deal, and thought of a number of things. He had a sister, who was a child too, and his constant companion. These two used to wonder all day long. They wondered at the beauty of the flowers; they wondered at the height and blueness of the sky; they wondered at the depth of the bright water; they wondered at the goodness and the power of God who made the lovely world.
Our God is not made of stone. His heart is the most sensitive and tender of all. No act goes unnoticed, no matter how insignificant or small. A cup of cold water is enough to put tears in the eyes of God. Like the proud mother who is thrilled to receive a wilted bouquet of dandelions from her child, so God celebrates our expressions of gratitude.
Live every day to fulfill your personal mission. God has a reason for whatever season you are living through right now. A season of loss or blessing? A season of activity or hibernation? A season of growth or incubation? You may think youre on a detour, but God knows the best way for you to reach your destination.
The heavens are not filled with hostility. The sky does not express a frown. When I look up I do not contemplate a face of brass, but the face of infinite good will. Yet when I was a child, many a picture has made me think of God as suspicious, inhumanly watchful, always looking round the corner to catch me at the fall. That eye, placed in the sky of many a picture, and placed there to represent God, filled my heart with chilling fear. . . . Heaven overflows with good will toward us! Our God not only wishes good, he wills it!
I do not know when I have had happier times in my soul, than when I have been sitting at work, with nothing before me but a candle and a white cloth, and hearing no sound but that of my own breath, with God in my soul and heaven in my eye . . . . I rejoice in being exactly what I am,--a creature capable of loving God, and who, as long as God lives, must be happy. I get up and look for a while out the window, and gaze at the moon and stars, the work of an Almighty hand. I think of the grandeur of the universe, and then sit down, and think myself one of the happiest beings in it.
I sometimes forget that life is fragile. The fact that I have more time to dream my dreams and take my ease is no reason at all to disregard the moment Im in by preferring to be somewhere else. I have to remind myself that wherever I am . . . fast lane or slow lane, in traffic or out of traffic, racing or resting . . . God is there. He is in me, abiding in me, thus making it possible for me to be all there, myself.
A dynamic person is one who really makes a difference in the world; who does something that changes things or other people. The magnitude of the work done may not be great, but the world is different because that person has lived and worked. The real secret of a dynamic personality is to believe that God works through you, whatever you may be doing; to put his service first, and to be as sincere, practical, and efficient as you know how.
Its a risky thing to pray and the danger is that our very prayers get between God and us. The great thing in prayer is not to pray, but to go directly to God. . . . The fact is, though, that if you descend into the depths of your own spirit and arrive somewhere near the center of what you are, you are confronted with the inescapable truth that, at the very root of your existence, you are in constant and immediate contact with the infinite power of God.
The temptation to moralize is strong; it is emotionally satisfying to have enemies rather than problems, to seek out culprits rather than flaws in the system. God knows that it is emotionally satisfying to be righteous with that righteousness that nourishes itself on the blood of sinners. But God also knows that what is emotionally satisfying can be spiritually devastating.
Before anything can be planted, the soil must be ready. We must allow the softening mulch of Gods forgiveness to give air and breath to the soil of our hearts. Prejudicestaught in our childhood or imposed by our societymust be released. Fear must be replaced by trust, and suspicion by childlike hope and acceptance. These changes in the soil will not come easily or without sweat, but any good gardener knows that preparing the soil is the most important of all labors. It gives the seeds a chance to grow and eventually, to exhibit all that is hidden in its complex genetic structure.
When an apprentice gets hurt, or complains of being tired, the workmen and peasants have this fine expression: It is the trade entering his body. Each time that we have some pain to go through, we can say to ourselves quite truly that it is the universe, the order and beauty of the world, and the obedience of God that are entering our body.
One of the things I find fascinating about Gods creation is the way he seems to temper the negative environmental elements with corresponding positive ones. For instance, without the nearly ceaseless rains of the northwest, no incomparable green scenery would greet the eye from all directions. And the snow that snuggles atop Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. St. Helens would not exist if, at lower elevations, there were no rain. . . . Gods creative style ensures that something wonderful will offset something less than wonderful. In everything God seems to be balanced.
Worship is yet another paradox of the religious life: it is simultaneously the greatest duty and the greatest pleasure of faith. Worship is the act of truly loving God. Believe in this brilliant Being, this magnificent higher power, who not only created us but nurtures us with care and intelligence beyond our imagination, and obviously we are called to worship him.
God has spoken very boldly about his desire to be a presence in our lives. If I want to heal the ache and loneliness in my own life, one of the things I need to do is get away alone with God. The paradoxical answer to loneliness is aloneness . . . with God. In the silence God will speak to you most powerfully. Too often his words to us get muffled, lost, or covered by the crowd of many noises both inside and outside of us. We must have a quiet heart in order to hear Gods distinctive message to us.
A priest friend of mine has cautioned me away from the standard God of our childhoods, who loves you and guides you and then, if you are bad, roasts you: God as a high school principal in a gray suit who never remembered your name but is always leafing unhappily through your files.
There are two ways of getting out of a trial. One is simply to get rid of the trial, and be thankful when it is over. The other is to recognize the trial as a challenge from God to claim a larger blessing than we have ever had. We should greet it with delight as an opportunity to obtain a large measure of divine grace.
All people are special, and all moments are golden. There is no person and there is no time more special than another. Many people choose to believe that God communicates in special ways and only with special people. This removes the mass of the people from responsibility for hearing Gods message, much less receiving it (which is another matter), and allows them to take someone elses word for everything.
It is an extraordinary and beautiful thing that God, in creation, works with the beauty of matter; the reality of things; the discoveries of the sense, all five of them; so that we, in turn, may hear the grass growing; see a face springing to life in love and laughter . . . . The offerings of creation . . . our glimpses of truth.
There is nothing you need to do to make yourself more acceptable to God. You dont have to work harder, nor do you need to change the kind of work you do. You dont have to give more money to charitable organizations. The reality is, God doesnt want you to give anyone anything if you only do it to impress God! God does not love you or find you acceptable because of anything that you do. God loves you and accepts you because you are a part of God.
Once one has encountered God everything is changed. One does not lead a charmed lifebut it is amazing how charming the commonplace can become. One still has heavy work to do but one works with assurance and poise. One still has temptations to meet but they have been robbed of most of their power. One runs into adversity but the inner certainty remains.
God, we thank you for this earth, our homes; for the wide sky and the blessed sun, for the salt sea and the running water, for the everlasting hills and the never resting winds, for trees and the common grass underfoot. We thank you for our senses by which we hear the songs of birds, and see the splendor of the summer fields, and taste of the autumn fruits, and rejoice in the feel of the snow, and smell the breath of the spring. Grant us a heart wide open to all this beauty; and save our souls from being so blind that we pass unseeing when even the common thorn bush is aflame with your glory, O God our creator, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.
In various moments of my life, when I am relating to and communicating with others, I observe myself in action, and I ask, Is this the person I would like to be? With this I quietly ask God to help me become my ideal. I ask him to empower me to practice what I preach. Help me to be real. If I am not real, I am nothing. My life will only be a charade.
As changes take place in my life, I continue to watch them truly work out for my goodif I can just wait on God to see me through. What makes all the difference is trustthe understanding that God has a much bigger plan than mine even if I dont understand it. Im grateful, yet sorry, that I have had to learn so many lessons by hindsight.
Adventure begins with you, personally. It is in the way you look at things. It is the mental stance you take as you face your day. It is finding magic in things. It is talking with people and discovering their inner goodness. It is the thrill of feeling a part of the life around you. The attitude of adventure will open things up for you. The world will become alive with new zest and meaning. Youll become more aware of the beauty everywhere. Nothing will seem unimportant. Everything will be revealed as having pattern and purpose.
The law of giving and receiving is fundamental, and relates just as much to God as it does to us. As we go through the door of giving ourselves to God in worship we find that God comes through that same door and gives himself to us. Gods insistence that we worship him is not really a demand at all but an offeran offer to share himself with us. When God asks us to worship him, he is asking us to fulfill the deepest longing in himself, which is his passionate desire to give himself to us. It is what Martin Luther called the joyful exchange.
I have always disliked the idea that we are being tested by God when something awful happens to us. Bad things happen, and none of us are exempt from the possibility that they will come to us as well. I have pondered a different possibility inherent in crisis that in no way changes the fact that it is a genuine disaster: perhaps the events that devastate us carry within them seeds of spiritual initiation into a level of knowing we would not otherwise achieve.
It is of course evident that everything in ones religious life depends upon the sort of God one worships. The character of the worshiper must necessarily be molded by the character of the object worshipped. If it is a cruel and revengeful God, or a selfish and unjust God, the worshiper will be cruel, and revengeful, and selfish, and unjust, also. If it is a loving, tender, forgiving, unselfish God, the worshiper will be loving, and tender, and forgiving, and unselfish, as well.
Nature always takes you at your own valuation. Believe you are the child of Godreally believe it. Believe that you express Divine Life, Divine Truth, and Divine Love. Believe that Divine Wisdom guides you. Believe that God is your supply. Believe that God is helping and blessing humanity through you. Believe that you are a special enterprise on the part of God and that he is opening your wayand what you really believe, that you will demonstrate.
Each of us has something broken in our lives: a broken promise, a broken dream, a broken marriage, a broken heart. . . and we must decide how were going to deal with our brokenness. We can wallow in self-pity or regret, accomplishing nothing and having no fun or joy in our circumstances; or we can determine with our will to take a few risks, get out of our comfort zone, and see what God will do to bring unexpected delight in our time of need.
You rush from one extreme to another. The only true way to live in this world, constituted just as we are, is to make all our employments subserve the one great end and aim of existence, namely, to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. But in order to do this we must be wise taskmasters and not require of ourselves what we cannot possibly perform. Recreation we must have. Otherwise, the strings of our soul, wound up to an unnatural tension, will break.
There is no closer bond than the one that gratefulness celebrates, the bond between giver and thanksgiver. Everything is a gift. Grateful living is a celebration of the universal give-and-take of life, a limitless yes to belonging. Can our world survive without gratefulness? Whatever the answer, one thing is certain: to say an unconditional yes to the mutual belonging of all beings will make this a more joyful world. This is the reason why Yes is my favorite synonym for God.
Its really quite simple. When we look at a tree, God is there. When we look at a flower, God is there. When we look at the sky, God is there. When we look at the earth, God is there. We can see God in the faces of people on the street, in the faces of our children, our friends, our partners, our colleagues, and our bosses. When we see God shining through the faces of all those around usthose like us and those unlike usevery moment becomes a prayer and the world becomes a different place to live in.
God never gives up on us no matter how hard we try to get ourselves loose. God does not let go. That doesnt mean he controls everything we do. It doesnt mean he puts a bridle on us and leads us by the nose. He gives each one of us free will and common sense and a spirit that can communicate with his. When we go through afflictions, he allows us to choose our response. But no matter what our response may be, he sticks around to the bitter end.
Dont take yourself too seriously. It just makes life all the harder. Itll all come out in the wash anyway, because Gods glory eventually will eclipse everything that goes wrong on this earth. Lighten up and learn to laugh at yourself. None of us is infallible. We make mistakes in life, and more often than not, theyre funny. Sometimes, being your own source of comedy is the most fun of all.
You just dont make decisions about what youre going to be like when you are old. I know that I am making that decision right now. Every time we perceive ourselves, others, life, the world and God in a certain way, we are deepening the habits that will take over in old age. Every time I act on the insights that I am getting now, I am deciding my future and choosing to be a kindly or cynical old man. Our yesterdays lie heavily upon our todays and our todays will lie heavily upon our tomorrows.
We must not allow any consideration whatever, any institution, or organization, or any book, or any man or woman, to come between us and our direct seeking for God. If our reliance is on anything but our own understanding of Truth, our work will cease to be fruitful. If we rely unduly upon anyone else, upon a particular teacher or healer, for instance, he or she will be certain to fail us, probably through no fault of his or her own.
I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of sticks, far too heavy for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage, if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day; but we choose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterdays stick over again today, and adding tomorrows burden to our load, before we are required to bear it.
Today, as never before, prayer is a binding necessity in the lives of men and nations. The lack of emphasis on the religious sense has brought the world to the edge of destruction. Our deepest source of power and perfection has been left miserably undeveloped. Prayer, the basic exercise of the spirit, must be actively practiced in our private lives. The neglected souls of people must be made strong enough to assert themselves once more. For if the power of prayer is again released and used in the lives of common men and women; if the spirit declares its aims clearly and boldly, there is yet hope that our prayers for a better world will be answered.
I have to be honest in asking myself: Do I really want to know and do Gods will? Or is it rather that I want God to do my will? Do I go to God with the assurance that I want only to know and do his will? Or do I rather first make my own plans and then insist that God make my dreams come true?
Life is short. Each year passes more quickly than the previous one. Its easy to deny yourself many of lifes simple pleasures because you want to be practical. Forget about practical and decide instead to become a joy collector. Always be on the lookout for gifts without ribbons. God is strewing them across your path right now. His gifts come tagged with a note: Life can be wonderful. Do your best not to miss it! Enjoy what it is before it isnt anymore. . . . Dare to slip on a pair of bunny slippers once in a while! Surprise yourself! Enjoy the little things because one day youll look back and realize they were the big things!
Remember always that there are two things which are more utterly incompatible even than oil and water, and these two are trust and worry. Can you call it trust, when you have given the saving and keeping of your soul into the hands of God, if day after day you are spending hours of anxious thought and questionings about the matter? When believers really trust anything, they cease to worry about the thing they have trusted.
To win true peace, people need to feel themselves directed, pardoned, and sustained by a supreme power, to feel themselves in the right road, at the point where God would have them bein order with God and the universe. This faith gives strength and calm.
Prayers increase our faith in the power of good and thus our power to invoke it. Most of us have more faith in the power of AIDS to kill us than we have faith in God to heal us and make us whole. We have more faith in the power of love to restore us. Where we place our faith, there we will find our treasure. Whatever we choose to look at, we will see. Prayer is a way of focusing our eyes.
The security that many seek in the things of the world, through manipulation of others, through finance and possession, is a false security, for it depends on conditions that will ever be changing and on the stability of the institutions created to deal with those conditions. It is also a damaging security in that it tends to build insulating walls between the one seeking this security and the rest of the worldwalls which eventually can smother. The security that comes through a full and harmonious relationship between an individual and God, the author of all change, is both stable and unrestricting. It produces a healthy and alert individual in touch with the changes and needs of the time, and leaves him or her open in a stable and constructive manner to experience the fullness of the world.
When you understand what a gift it is to be alive, you will know that you are worthy. Once you understand that you can trust yourself to be a unique expression of life, you will feel worthy. Once you feel worthy and accept that you are not a mistake, that you have a right to be who you are, exactly as you are, you will believe that you are worthy. Once you believe that you are worthy of life and love and all sorts of other good things, you will come off the head trip of trying to prove your worth to others in order to convince yourself. Once you acknowledge and accept the presence of Gods love in you and for you, there will never again be a question in your mind about whether or not you are worthy.
Why not make an honest assessment of the things that might be slowing you down today? Are they physical or spiritual necessities for you or someone you love? What would your life be like without them? If you eliminated them, would you have more time for the things in your life that really matter? Ask God to show you how your life could be improved if you made some changes and dropped some things that are weighing you down.
Now as God is infinite and omnipresent in all places, he consequently is within the bodies of people, as well as without them. . . . He penetrates all beings and spirits more thoroughly than the visible light at noonday doth the air.
Its said that three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and change. If you look around, youll notice that most people can deal with the first two better than change. But without it, well never know how wonderful the plans God has for us can be. Fear of change comes from fear of loss, even if we are losing something that we never liked in the first place. If you are struggling with change in your life today, take a moment to bring your fears to the Lord. With faith and in his guidance, change can lead to many blessings!
God wants to abide in us and he wants us to abide in him. Abiding comes more easily for some than others. It is not always easy to know what God has planned for us, but we can be assured that whatever it is, he is ready to equip us with what we need to endure and hold on to that place for as long as he wants us there. Abiding starts with trust and ends with complete rest.
There is a truly spiritual mode of communication from which nothing but good can come. It is this: Sit down quietly and remind yourself that the one God really is Omnipresent. Then reflect that your real self is in the Presence of God now, and that the real selves of others are also in the Presence of God. Do this for a few minutes every day, and sooner or later you will get a sense of communication.
Nothing in all nature is so lovely and so vigorous, so perfectly at home as a fish in the sea. Its surroundings give to it a beauty, quality, and power which is not its own. We take it out, and at once a poor, limp, dull thing, fit for nothing, is gasping away its life. So the soul sunk in God, living the life of prayer, is supported, filled, transformed in beauty, by a vitality and a power which are not its own.
Take yourself seriously. That doesnt mean we shouldnt laugh at ourselves. To the contrary, it means that we should not despair, it means there is precious little cause for sorrow. Because if God takes us seriously enough to die for us, then maybe we ought to take ourselves seriously enough to dare to joyfully think that there is meaning and importance to our existence. So thinking, our way becomes more clear.
Prayer is not a stratagem for occasional use, a refuge to resort to now and then. It is rather like an established residence for the innermost self. All things have a home: the bird has a nest, the fox has a hole, the bee has a hive. A soul without prayer is a soul without a home.