The last few articles I have written have been about issues related to society and how we handle these issues as Christians. Yet I think that there is an ecumenical way in which the body of believers can handle the issues of today. The answer, a spiritual awakening. I have been fascinated with spiritual awakenings since I was a teenager. I had a spiritual awaking when I was 16 and it has continued to affect my life. Two words come to mind from scripture saved and perfect. Saved in the Greek is very similar to what we would think it would mean when in the context of salvation, “to save” “to heal” “to restore to health” and so on. Truly having a “saved” experience will start to change our consciousness, the Spirit of God is given to us and by grace we receive. Without this impartation it is difficult to impossible for an outsider to understand Christianity, especially in its inner most works. As Jesus many times spoke of having eyes that see and ears that hear.
Now anyone can say the sinner’s prayer, as preachers often end their sermons with the famous alter call; but does that make them saved? I am not God so I don’t know, yet if some shift in consciousness does not take place I would doubt the person’s salvation. Again I am not an expert or care to be in soteriology, only God truly knows the heart of man. Yet, salvation is a spiritual awakening process. It is the beginning of being made perfect in Christ through the work of the cross. Perfect means essentially reaching the end. Like the Apostle spoke, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race. Christians believe this final perfection takes place upon death. For us death is not the end but the beginning. So death in itself is the ultimate spiritual awakening. For we will see him as he truly is.
Many times Christians wonder why some people just do not get it. Why can’t they just believe in God? The scriptures speak of faith being a gift of God. It is also impossible to please God without faith. Just as Abraham was made righteous through faith, so are we. There is no works or good deeds, just faith. Once faith has been used to sincerely believe, and surrender we will have awakened to the spiritual. Now we see, now we hear. All things become new, we see the world in a different light and the scriptures become alive. Since my spiritual awakening I have done what many Christians call, to backslide. This for me is to set aside my consciousness and indulge in my base or profane self. I believe that for the most part our salvation is secure although I am not a complete determinist I ponder how much God effects our destiny outside of ourselves. Being a good Arminian I believe that God has given all humans faith, it is our choice to use it or not. While God may know our destiny we determine it. Many Christians backslide in life before leveling off into a maintenance stage of Christ consciousness. Peter himself betrayed Jesus and digressed to his base self. We are a work in progress towards ultimate perfection. We can have an awakenings continually throughout life. Awakenings are actually much closer than we may think.
While few will have the awakening experience given to those such as the apostle Paul who had a direct encounter with the Lord; who also later was taken up into the third heaven. Why not seek out the deepest spiritual experiences possible. I know I do. I also know that we can stir up awakenings, I believe God desires it. The answer I believe is contained in the act of surrendering. True surrender to God’s will brings about a spiritual awaking. I believe that surrender and salvation are next door neighbors. It takes faith to surrender our will to God. It is probably one of the hardest things in life to do. It is scary, it is uncomfortable, it goes against human nature, but when God’s grace allows us through faith to surrender the results are a life altering spiritual awakening that will last an eternity. For the Christian who is already saved what are some ways which will lead to continued spiritual awakenings? I will mention and explain a few. These are prayer, meditation and giving.
First prayer. Prayer is essential for the Christian. I actually do not know if one can be a Christian without a regular prayer life. In fact I will be so bold as to say no, you cannot be a Christian without a prayer life. We are to be one with the father as Jesus was one. That is at least what the master wished for us. Jesus was a man of great prayer. His life revolved around prayer and the master would spend entire nights in solitude and prayer. We cannot have a conscious contact with God without prayer. God also connects with us through prayer. We are spiritual beings who are designed by the creator to pray. Praying should be as normal as speaking. The desired outcome of prayer is union with God. This is what theologian Friedrich Heiler called mystical prayer. Heiler also considered mystical prayer to be the highest form of prayer.1 (see Das Gebet by Heiler for his work on prayer) This is the elevation of the mind from the earthly to the heavenly. During prayer we will often petition, intercede, praise, and give ourselves to God’s will. Prayer creates a conscious shift in our minds toward God. We begin to see the big picture, it eases our souls. Prayer changes things, and most importantly it changes us. Prayer will also change the world around us. All of us who have had any type of a prayer life will be able to testify to at least one noticeable miracle that has taken place due to our prayers. Do not limit your miracles! If you are looking for a spiritual awakening pray and watch it happen. Let me remind you that prayer is a discipline, and like any discipline it must be worked to see results. While you may have a life altering event the first time you pray, this is not often the case. Quantity and longevity will work in your favor.
Next meditation or contemplation. For myself personally I feel that meditation is the next best thing to prayer. In my own daily routine I spend time in prayer then I spend a time in meditation. I meditate as they do in the East. I sit in silence, using my breath as a guide into the unknown. Not only is it great self-care for your body and mind, it is an opportunity for God to connect with us. It is a time for you to shut up and empty your mind so that God may fill it up. Many have had great revelations as the result of meditation. What are these revelations, well they were conscious shift that create what we call an awakening. Some Christians cringe at the idea of meditation yet I find this foolish. Christians dislike meditation because it is a practice of the East, associated with religions such as Buddhism. Prayer is also a practice of the East and of the Pagans yet they somehow find it beneficial.
Do I believe that Jesus mediated? I would assume he probably did some type of mediation. Okay I will be bold again and say yes I am sure that Jesus meditated especially during his 40 days in the wilderness. Individuals who meditate have been known to go for long periods of time without food or water. They become one with themselves and God. They awake to new insight and a stronger spirituality. I would love to have the time to meditate for such lengths. America would be a much nicer place if everyone prayed and meditated on a daily basis.
My third key to a spiritual awakening is giving. No, and not to the televangelist, they already have fancy suits and cars. Actually when you think about giving in this article let’s just leave money out of it. Yes I believe in giving money to your local church and to charitable organizations but in many ways that is an easy fix. It is easy to write a check it is often more difficult to give of your time out of love. We all have different abilities we can use in order to give to society. Remember Jesus said even if you give a cup of water in my name. The scriptures also say freely you have been given freely give. Read Luke 10:25-37 about the Good Samaritan. I could list literally hundreds of ways in which a person can give. You could be a medical doctor, a lawyer, teacher, mechanic, elected official, business owner, all of these and more. I think you see what I am saying. You have talents worthy of giving. Most importantly in your giving do it out of love. Don’t feel that you must give, give because that’s what you want to do. Love in giving will make all the difference. So how does giving create a spiritual awakening as I have defined it, as a conscious shift in our minds? First it takes you out of yourself and brings you closer to your fellow. You realize that you are not the only person on the planet and the world doesn’t revolve around you. For those that have given it creates a sense of joy and peace. Giving activates the mind. When I speak of the mind I am talking about the spirit of man, not our physical brain. Most importantly giving is what God first did for man. We were created to be like God so we should act like God and give. It is better to give than receive. You will only understand this from giving.
These are not the only paths to a spiritual awakening there is so many more. I will give a few honorable mentions that I wish to write about more in the future.
Alcoholics Anonymous, many look at this self-help group as a way in which a person can stop using alcohol. This is true and is also their stated primary purpose. AA is also so much more than that. I am going to list the 12 steps of this group.
- We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
- Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
- Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
- Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
- Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
- Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
- Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
- Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
- Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
- Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
- Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.2
I am not going to get into details yet for more information read the AA book. If you notice, the steps focus on God, prayer, releasing self, meditation, and giving. These same steps or variations of them have been used to help treat people in addiction all around the world. Those in the know understand that alcohol and most drugs hinder our relationship with God. The spiritual person is most of the time a sober person.
On the flip side I will give one last mention and that is the use of drugs, specifically psychedelics. This is not a new concept, but one that has probably been around from the beginning of time. I sometimes wonder if the tree of good and evil mentioned in Genesis was not of the psychedelic nature opening the eyes of man. I am not advocating for the use of drugs yet it is an undeniable fact that if not abused there can be great benefits from psychedelics. Evidence based research is starting to show these benefits in treating certain mental illnesses and addiction. People around the world have been using psychedelics to interact with the spiritual world for thousands of years. This is fascinating and why I give it mention. God certainly created all the plants of the earth. God being God knew of their nature and potential. It is man who abuses and disrespects what God has created for good. Surprisingly the federal government is allowing research into some psychedelics for the treatment of PTSD. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/18/dea-mdma-study_n_6888972.html
Some doctors such as Dr. Dan Engle who practices outside of the United States uses psychedelics to create a spiritual awakening that is needed for the treatment of addiction. http://www.maps.org/research/ibogaine-therapy
Bill Wilson the co-founder of AA was interested in LSD as a possible miracle drug that would bring about a conscious shift to help the alcoholic.
The point to this is not to abuse a drugs, but use drugs such as psychedelics for a better life. Through a spiritual awakening.
Spiritual awakenings have always fascinated me and always will. As I said above I had one when I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ as a teenager. It has totally changed my life. I encourage you to pray, meditate and give, and have a spiritual awakening of your own. If the world was awake which I believe is starting to happen at an accelerated rate we will experience a better world. A kingdom of heaven on earth. Blessings!
- Elwell, Walter A. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker
Book House, 1984. 946.
- Alcoholics Anonymous. 4th ed. New York, New York: A. A. World Services, 1976. 59-60.