Prayer and the Skeptical Mind

Attentive readers will have noticed that a new menu item— Prayers  —has recently been added to the Yeshua21 Blog.  In that same vein, a new booklet has also been uploaded:

A Collection of Christian Prayers from Yeshua21.Com

This small collection of prayers, from a variety of Christian sources, is for sincere skeptics and honest critics whose hearts remain open. The idea is to hit the ground running—to begin participating in the Christian tradition in a meaningful way, here and now, with a view to authentic awakening.  We are multidimensional beings— body, soul, and Spirit —and contemplative prayer can facilitate the realization and integration of all these dimensions of our being.  Such realization is prerequisite to:  1) the possibility of authentic self-knowledge, 2) the experience of meaningful, abundant life, and 3) the possibility of political healing and cultural renewal.

Christian believers don’t always appreciate how lame— how phony and how inauthentic —prayer can seem to the skeptical mind.   But even dyed in the wool skeptics can change if and when they grok the possibility of awakening to the deeper and higher aspects of their essential humanity.  As multidimensional beings, ignorant of our true nature, what we long for is the realization and integration of all these dimensions in Christ.  When this is understood, the sincere skeptic and honest critic may, in fact, be open to a variety of spiritual exercises, including contemplative prayer and meditation.  See, for example, the section on The Jesus Prayer (pages 7-9).  See also the extended excerpts from Narcissus and Goldmund (page 11) and from The Illuminatus Trilogy (page 13).

==> Download eBooklets

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2 Responses to Prayer and the Skeptical Mind

  1. Good morning [. . . ] Nice to hear from you again! Thank you for including me in your mailing list about this Yeshua21 news. I think it is well put together and very appealingly worded. Who would not understand/feel what you are conveying? Also I liked the delicate humour that you have sprinkled across it 😀 You seem to assume though that everybody knows the words of the Jesus Prayer, which might be the case in your region, but not everywhere. The quotation of [sic] gives me the impression that these are only the first three lines – or is it that short? For heathens like me, maybe you could add the whole text in a footnote? Just a suggestion. I easily followed your argumentation but can’t cope with the old-fashioned prayers, because they are already based on a certain amount of belief in God which I can’t provide. Of course I know that everything is a great mystery but why should I call it God? To “switch on” belief (which I could do) seems to me an arbitrary addition to whatever already seems to exist in life. But what for? Only so that my soul shall be saved? Not necessary because I don’t believe in hell. Please understand that I’m not trying to get on your nerves with these musings, it’s just to give you an honest picture about my belief status. Which you probably know in detail anyway 🙂 “Switching on belief” is like “switching on the mystic side of life”, which is very pleasant and maybe I’ll try it one day. If yes, it will be your merit 🙂 and you can benchmark one more saved soul 😀 Best regards to you and your family. Ilka

  2. yeshua21 says:

    Good morning to you, Ilka — I hope all is well with you and yours! I guess you must have signed up for these emails at some point (I don’t add people’s address to the blog mailing list — they sign up for it online. Towards the end of your comment, you wrote:

    [Please understand that I’m not trying to get on your nerves with these musings, it’s just to give you an honest picture about my belief status.]

    Likewise, you should not misinterpret my reply as a personal rebuke. I feel that I must address your comments honestly and directly or simply ignore them. I’m assuming that you prefer the honest and direct approach.

    [I think it is well put together and very appealingly worded. Who would not understand/feel what you are conveying? Also I liked the delicate humour that you have sprinkled across it]

    Thank you for the good review. I was quite pleased with the way it turned out (I began preparing it simply for my own use and only later decided to share it on the blog). And yet, your comments, below, suggest you did not read the booklet carefully and do not really understand or feel what I am conveying. The original booklet for which this blog is named, “Getting to Know Jesus in the 21st Century”, would probably help lay to rest many of your misconceptions.

    [You seem to assume though that everybody knows the words of the Jesus Prayer, which might be the case in your region, but not everywhere. The quotation of [sic] gives me the impression that these are only the first three lines – or is it that short? For heathens like me, maybe you could add the whole text in a footnote? Just a suggestion.]

    This is the entire prayer:

    “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

    It is sometimes shortened to “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” You can read more about it on Wikipedia and elsewhere on the web. You should reread the “Anonymous Testimony” on page 7 of the booklet:

    An Anonymous Testimony

    You continue:

    [I easily followed your argumentation but can’t cope with the old-fashioned prayers, because they are already based on a certain amount of belief in God which I can’t provide. ]

    Did you read the excerpt from Narcissus and Goldmund? Remember how prayer was compared to playing the lute and how a skeptical attitude and habitual thought patterns can only interfere with the process? Perhaps you also remember in Aldous Huxley’s, “The Perennial Philosophy”, how a certain discipline is said to be required in order to be initiated in any form of knowledge. It isn’t necessary for you to follow this path, but you can’t know the goods intrinsic to it unless you are willing to bracket your skepticism and begin putting one foot after another. With regard to skepticism and belief, however, you really should read these two (very short) sections from Getting to Know Jesus:

    Foreword

    1. “Belief” versus “Faith”

    [Of course I know that everything is a great mystery but why should I call it God? To “switch on” belief (which I could do) seems to me an arbitrary addition to whatever already seems to exist in life. But what for? Only so that my soul shall be saved? Not necessary because I don’t believe in hell. Please understand that I’m not trying to get on your nerves with these musings, it’s just to give you an honest picture about my belief status. Which you probably know in detail anyway “Switching on belief” is like “switching on the mystic side of life”, which is very pleasant and maybe I’ll try it one day. If yes, it will be your merit and you can benchmark one more saved soul Best regards to you and your family. Ilka]

    All of this is quite beside the point. In addition to the two links, above, you might check out these two:

    Skeptic’s Corner

    Interspirituality

    Whatever is to be gained by this discipline will be found in stillness — not in the noisy banter of social media. I’m not suggesting that immersing oneself in this type of prayer is necessary for everyone. I’m simply sharing something that I find personally edifying and fulfilling in ways that I could never have imagined 30, or 20, or even 10 years ago. I also think that the world at large would benefit from a return to a more traditional way of life. Since I was raised in Christian churches, the language of Christianity is the mode of discourse with which I am most familiar and most conversant. I tried for many years to divorce myself from it, but decided, in the end, that to do so was like “cutting off my nose to spite my face” (as the saying goes).

    Thanks for the feedback…

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