“That about wraps it up,” said Morgan Withers as he closed his note pad and turned off his recorder. He had just finished interviewing me for next month’s edition of his magazine. “Thank you for seeing me and being patient,” he added.
“No problem! I’m always glad to cooperate with the press,” I told him.
“Just one more question, then…” he said as he stood to leave, “…is your ‘gift’ of prayer one that has practical value?”
“Actually, it’s very practical,” I answered, “I would call it more of a discipline than a ‘gift”.”
“Yes, a mental discipline. As I said, it’s a way of training your mind. It’s a very personal experience as well.”
“Yes, I’m sure it is. Being able to experience things that no one else can observe and verify would qualify as a personal experience.”
“I detect sarcasm.” I said, “Have you ever seen a Blue-ringed Octopus?”
“Pictures…never the animal.”
“Yet you believe they exist? What evidence do you have that they exist?”
“Yes of course I believe they exist. I have the evidence of pictures and the statements and descriptions of others.”
“And yet, when I am in an altered state and I describe what I am seeing, feeling and experiencing you question whether I’m lying…even if I can draw what I see for you.”
“Yes, the Blue-ring Octopus has been described by more than one person. The photos are photos, not sketches that could be figments of someone’s imagination.”
“I see, so if I enter a state of prayer…and through that state I enter the presence of God, you would say I had merely imagined the Divine experience, no matter how detailed my description, no matter how vivid I was able to render my experience on canvas?”
“Of course, there are no others with the same experience to verify your experience.”
“But thousands upon thousands of people though the centuries have described their experiences in God’s presence…many more than have ever described the Blue-ring Octopus…could it be that you, and those like you, are simply not listening…because they don’t want to hear?
“Nonsense! Why would we not want to hear?”
“Maybe you don’t want to believe that there is a master plan for your life…perhaps you’re happier muddling through day to day and believing that you’re in control.”
“Yeah, that must be it. I want to be in control. It’s my great obsession!”
“Yes, you’re being facetious, but it probably is your great obsession. Most people rebel unless they feel they have choices.”
“Fortunately we do have choices.”
“Yes, we do have some choices. We can obey or not.”
“Fortunately, I don’t believe, so that’s not a choice I have to make.”
“And you don’t believe because you haven’t directly observed, measured and photographed God?”
“That’s about the size of it! I believe in things I can experience for myself.”
“But you believe in the Blue-ringed Octopus and you’ve never experienced it. You’ve never experienced the Moon, but you probably believe that it’s dusty, pocked with craters and has no atmosphere. You’ve never experienced being mauled by a tiger, but you believe from the accounts of others that it’s painful and potentially fatal. Fortunately, you do not have to believe in anything at all for all of those things to exist. Just because you haven’t experienced them personally doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. It only means that you haven’t experienced them. Believe me, their existence does not depend upon your belief…they exist in spite of your skepticism.”
“You can’t convince me that God exists. There is no evidence you can show me that would convince me!”
“God is unaffected by your lack of belief. His dominion is not affected at all by your denial. His influence and control over your life is not affected either…He’s still in control…whether you believe it or not. So, by all means, deny…you’re fooling nobody but yourself!”
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