Christians: Church-going vs. Stay-at-Home is like Praying Aloud vs. Silent Prayer

The “church” is not just a building where people gather. The “church” is the people. We Christians are the “church” no matter where and when.

Matthew 18:20, New International Version (NIV): “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” – Jesus.

This implies being gathered at the same place and time. Those are past human limitations. Today, via Internet, we can be together without being in the same building. There is no result difference if you speak to a person, in person, and then receive an immediate reply, compared to a recorded or written message to that same person, awaiting response, and then receiving a recorded or written reply. Just the reading is itself a kind of response, even if no recorded or written reply or comment. Distance and time between Christians engaged in communications does not make them any less Christian.

This does not mean people gathering in person at the same place for religious purposes is wrong. As long as doing so is not just for the purpose of being seen as an ego or status act, or as proof one is a Christian. It can be socially beneficial, and there’s nothing wrong with that as a secondary purpose and convenience for when in-person contact is preferred. Also, church-related charities in need of in-person contact at a common location. Use of a traditional church building isn’t necessary. Meetings can take place at other kinds of locations such as public parks for larger groups, in private homes for smaller groups (such as for bible study).

Sometimes church buildings are about ego – who has the biggest architectural wonder, so then the focus is on a building instead of the people. The same ego indicates one has more money given to it than another, making money the focus instead of the people – and their souls. God does not need physical architectural wonders, but God made it possible for humans to be creative in that way. God does not need money, but likely prefers people use it wisely.

WE are the church. YOU are the church. Our bodies are temples.

1 Corinthians 6:19, New International Version (NIV): “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own.”

I believe the human body is comparable to a car. The soul is the driver. We spiritual beings need physical bodies for transportation while living on this world. This is comparable to the use of avatars in virtual reality worlds created by people with computers and using the Internet. The physical universe could be the virtual reality of spiritual beings living in the spiritual universe. Here they can die in physical form while living on unharmed in spiritual form. This is an explanation that could possibly answer all or most questions about physical life, where we came from, the creation of the earth and the physical universe. It is with some humor that I consider maybe God really did create the heavens and earth in only six days, and did so with his personal desktop computer! Science fiction authors can create whole universes within novels, turned into movies of such detail they appear to be real. Humans can do that now. Imagine what God has always been able to do.

The energy of the cells of the physical body produce the unconscious mind and therein the id. The energy of the cells of the physical brain produce the conscious mind, subconscious, and therein the ego. The energy of the cells of the superphysical body of the soul produce the superconscious mind and therein the superego.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, New International Version (NIV): “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

How can we pray continually? Being a Christian is a 24/7 spiritual religion, not limited to physical participation in a church building one day each week – Sundays. As the conscious mind and physical body does the physical work of the physical universe, the superconscious mind and superphysical soul does the spiritual work of the spiritual universe, as a kind of multitasking within both levels of existence at the same time. Spiritual participation can be anytime and anywhere, even all the time and everywhere. Therefore, like now, I can be physically at home enjoying a movie on TV, while also being spiritually engaged in silent prayer and worship.

Praying aloud is usually considered a means of proof that a person is in fact praying and what the person is praying about. There are times when praying aloud is justified and necessary – such as when addressing a group of people, for them to hear your prayer. Likewise, putting prayers in written form for people to read them. Even so, it is not necessary for prayers to be spoken aloud or written for God to receive them.

Ephesians 6:18, New International Version (NIV): “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

“Yes, God hears our prayers on all occasions, whether we’re praying out loud or praying silently in our hearts and minds. After all, He knows all about us and knows what is going on inside us–both good and bad. The Bible says that God “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). The Bible also says, “The Lord detests the thoughts of the wicked, but those of the pure are pleasing to him” (Proverbs 15:26). God even hears our prayers when we can’t even put them into words–times, for example, when our hearts are too burdened or confused even to speak. The Bible says, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). One of God’s greatest gifts to us is the privilege of prayer–a privilege that is possible because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. Thank God for the privilege of prayer and learn daily to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).” – Billy Graham (1 June 2004).

Further: “The Bible may not specifically mention praying silently, but that does not mean it is any less valid than praying out loud. God can hear our thoughts just as easily as He can hear our words (Psalm 139:23; Jeremiah 12:3). Jesus knew the evil thoughts of the Pharisees (Matthew 12:24-26; Luke 11:17). Nothing we do, say, or think is hidden from God, who does not need to hear our words to know our thoughts. He has access to all prayers directed to Him, whether or not they are spoken. The Bible does mention praying in private (Matthew 6:6). What would be the difference between praying out loud or silently if you are by yourself? There are some circumstances where only silent prayer is appropriate, e.g., praying for something between you and God only, praying for someone who is present, etc. There is not anything wrong with praying silently, as long as we are not doing it because we are embarrassed to be seen praying. Perhaps the best verse to indicate the validity of unspoken prayers is 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “Pray without ceasing.” To pray unceasingly obviously cannot mean we are praying out loud all of the time. Rather, it means we are to be in a constant state of God-consciousness, where we take every thought captive to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5) and bring every situation, plan, fear, or concern before His throne. Part of unceasing prayer will be prayers that are spoken, whispered, shouted, sung, and silent as we direct our thoughts of praise, petition, supplication, and thanksgiving to God.”

More – excerpts from…

  • “There are several references in the New Testament to public prayers that are unacceptable, and it is true that Jesus condemned the Pharisees’ manner of praying. But Jesus Himself prayed out loud on occasion (see John 17), as did the apostles (Acts 8:15; 16:25; 20:36). Acts 1:14 says, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Then in verse 24, the apostles prayed together to choose someone to fill Judas’ spot among the twelve. They were clearly praying together and out loud. So, the sin was not in the public nature of the prayer or the fact that people could hear it.”
  • In Luke 18:10-14, Jesus gives this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Notice that the tax collector also prayed aloud, but his prayer was from a humble heart, and God accepted it. The sin of the Pharisees was not public prayer but a haughty spirit.
  • Later, Jesus says, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation” (Luke 20:46-47). Here the sin is not the audible nature of the prayer but its pretentiousness. Jesus condemns the hypocrisy of pretending to have a relationship with God while oppressing the very people He loves.
  • Then in Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Again, Jesus is not condemning the fact that people prayed aloud, but that they were putting on a public display for their own benefit. Their motive—to be seen of men—was the problem. Such prayer is not real prayer, but empty words meant for the ears of other people (Hebrews 10:22). Proverbs 15:29 says, “The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
  • In Ephesians 5:20, Paul instructs the church to “give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Communal prayer is one way a local church worships God and encourages one another. What Jesus condemns is arrogance and hypocrisy. For someone who is clearly disobedient to God to lead a public prayer as though he or she had much to brag about is the kind of hypocrisy that Jesus denounced. To use public prayer as a means of showing off or impressing others is wrong. But sincere prayer from a humble heart is always welcomed by God and can be an encouragement to those who hear it (Psalm 51:17).

I believe we in spiritual form were spiritually born into the spiritual universe on spiritual worlds similar to planets and made from supermatter; that after we live out a physical life in the physical universe we will return to our spiritual lives in the spiritual universe. When we physically die, our souls return to the spiritual universe from which they came and had pre-existence. Physical life begins with physical conception, but spiritual life begins before physical conception and then continues after a physical life.

Perhaps it should be a separate posting, and has been, but this is a good point to go further by making use of the abortion issue – briefly…

Most political issues only present two choices – such as Agree or Disagree, in Favor of or Against. Like a light switch for a light that is either On or Off. No middle ground. No true third choice or any additional choices.

However, the abortion issue is like a light switch with a dimmer dial, so that the light is partly on at dim instead of full-on. The dial of such a switch might have ten levels of light – from barely lit at a 1 to full-on bright at a 10.  Zero – off – when abortion is not allowed for any reason.

The further comparison is if you want to make abortion legal to save the life of the mother, then the dial is set to 1. Add to that abortion allowed for incest, sets it to a 2. Add to that abortion allowed for rape, sets it to a 3.

Far right Conservative Republicans and Fundamentalist Christians will not accept that, saying it is either On or Off, that slightly On is no different from On all-the-way. When a person is murdered, the death is not a partial death, unlike The Walking Dead zombies.

Most Liberal Democrats want full-on, totally legal abortion.

Most left-leaning Centrists, like me – as an Independent unaffiliated voter comparable to Libertarians, are willing to accept the dimmer switch for only a few special exceptions – such as to save the life of the mother, incest, and rape. Abortion should never be for convenience, such as an otherwise unwanted pregnancy. If the mother is unable to care for and raise a child, then the baby can be adopted by others who can care for and raise the child.

We can’t simply leave it at that – dimmed or partly on for those three exceptions. There are other factors, which must be considered.

There is the related issue of the question of when life begins. With that is the legal issue of the question of if and when an abortion is a murder.

The issue of when life begins has so far been for physical life. There may be a larger picture to consider for when spiritual life begins – when the spiritual body of the soul is created and joined to the physical body. The legal position for the beginning of physical life may be at physical conception. Otherwise, when pregnancy has been confirmed. Detection of a heartbeat in the fetus is proof of physical life, and then especially the detection of brainwaves. There is no scientific doubt that physical life begins before physical birth.

Spiritual life begins before physical conception. The physical body is like a car, and the spiritual soul is the driver. We need a physical vehicle for transportation while living on a physical world. Physically, we are the avatars of spiritual beings.

Imagine traveling on a jet to a distant city. You will need transportation when you get there, such as a rental car. It would be a huge inconvenience, if when arriving you find out the rental car you reserved has been destroyed, and no others are available at that time. Abortion, for whatever reason, is such an inconvenience for arriving spiritual souls in need of physical bodies for transportation.

We are all just visiting this planet. Welcome to Earth. We have found the aliens, and they are us.

Editorial Article by Jim Lantern
Sunday morning, 19 February 2017

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Categories: Religious Issues | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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