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Going Wireless

August 30, 2011

Most of us remember when telephones and computers were stationary objects at home or at the office, permanently plugged into an outlet on the wall.  These days, we take cell phones, laptops, PDAs, iPads and other wireless devices for granted.   The connections that we rely on so heavily in our everyday lives are invisible.  But even the most advanced technologies require a power source.  We still need to plug these devices into a power source occasionally to get charged, or replace the batteries.  Electronic devices cannot run on their own power.

Like electronic devices that are useless without a power source, our souls are, according to Blaise Pascal, empty vessels without God.[1]  We cannot run on our own steam.  There is a deep spiritual hole within us when we are not connected to God.

We travel to remote places of the earth in search of something to fill our spiritual voids, or look to self-help books or gurus who promise to guide us to self-fulfillment if we follow their lead and pay a fee.  Some stay busy to avoid being alone with soul-wrenching emptiness.  Still others have given up on spiritual fulfillment.  According to Henry David Thoreau, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”[2]  In his Introduction to Pascal’s Pensees, T. S. Eliot opined that most people who label themselves as skeptics or unbelievers merely have a “disinclination to think anything out to a conclusion.”[3]

Others among us are seekers of spiritual fulfillment who attend a place of worship to get “plugged in,” hoping that the charge lasts until the next time we go to get plugged in.  But is there a way to stay “plugged in?”

During his last days on earth, Jesus told his disciples that even though he was leaving them, he would send another, the Holy Spirit (referred to as the Counselor and the Spirit of Truth), to guide us to “all truth” (John 16: 1-16).  On the first Pentecost, according to Scripture, the Holy Spirit appeared (Act 2:2).  Peter confirmed that it was the Spirit predicted by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16-17).  The Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead– our wireless, invisible connection to the ultimate source of all power– God himself.

But the age-old question remains the same: “How do we connect to God?  Scripture tells us to “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8).

We draw close to God through prayer, and we are told to pray continually (I Thessalonians 5:17).   As David G. Benner points out in his book, Opening to God,[4]  we often view this directive as a discipline, requiring us to set aside a certain number of minutes each day to talk to God in order to establish a relationship with Him.  But, Benner suggests a step beyond that model:  that we live our lives prayerfully.  He suggests that praying doesn’t always take the form of words spoken to God.  This concept of prayer incorporates elements of the ancient model of lectio divina as well as other ways to stay connected to God during the course of a day.  While prayer can involve speaking words to God, Benner suggests other ways to connect to God, including reading Scripture slowly and listening for God’s voice, listening to music, meditating on how God is present in your life, using forms of fasting to bring you close to God, concentrating on a few words from the liturgy, listing your blessings, taking communion, repeating a few words or a prayer meditatively to enable the transition from mind to heart, taking a contemplative walk, and silently sitting while thinking of God (“Be still, and know that I am God,” Psalm 46:10).   Benner calls prayer “the natural language of the soul.”  But he warns that the mere repetition of words or other activity does not automatically make it a prayer.  It is the “underlying orientation of the heart that makes something prayer.”

Many questions come to mind regarding our connectivity to God.  Why is it that we sometimes “find” Him, just to “lose” Him?  Why is the connection to God so mysterious and tenuous?  Or is it?  Can we actually live in the presence of God in our busy, twenty-first century lives, as the seventeenth century Carmelite monk, Brother Lawrence, did in a monastery?

Scripture tells us that God is with you and me right now in the place where we are (1 John 4:12-13).  We have the built-in technology to make the wireless connection to God.  He has given us the means to make the connection with many forms of prayer that can be used throughout the day.  God promises that “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).

Only one question remains:  Do you sincerely want to get connected to God?

Copyright Diane C. Reagan

August 2011

[1] Blaise Pascal, Pascal’s Pensees, Introduction by T.S. Eliot (E.P. Dutton Co., Inc., 1958), # 425.

[2] Henry David Thoreau,  Walden (1854), Chapter 1-“Economy.”

[3] T.S. Eliot in his Introduction to  Pascal’s Pensees, p.7: “The majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith; and when the ordinary man calls himself a skeptic or an unbeliever, that is ordinarily a simple pose, cloaking a disinclination to think anything out to a conclusion.”

[4] David G. Benner, Opening To God (InterVarsity Press, 2010), pp.15-18.


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