Author: Marvin Gawryn,
The Urantia Book asserts that the heart of religion is a living relationship with God. Such communion must not be limited to religious services or peak experiences. It should be habitual, an ongoing moment-to-moment process of inner sharing. One of the revelation's most startling pronouncements is that such Father-child communion can be constant. Continuous communion is attainable. Indeed, it is a methodological key without equal, a "secret" of great spiritual leverage.
"The secret of his [Jesus'] unparalleled religious life was this consciousness of the presence of God; and he attained it by intelligent prayer and sincere worship —unbroken communion with God—..." (*2089:1)
"... the divine bestowals may flow to the hearts and souls of those who thus remember to maintain unbroken communion with their Maker through sincere prayer and true worship." (*2066:1)
The method is remarkably straightforward. While it takes persistent effort to form the habit, it involves simply an ongoing conversation, an internal dialogue with the Father. In every situation we can "talk" continuously, inwardly, with the very best listener. And we in turn can listen — pause to be attentive to the Father's constant communication to us, his nourishing love and wise guidance. When we are conversing with God, it is easy to remember that he is actually present.
One of the most effective proponents of the spiritual value of habitual inner conversation was Brother Lawrence, a Carmelite monk living in France in the late 1600's. A little volume of his thoughts, The Practice of the Presence of God, has become a devotional classic. The book's preface comments, "No conceited scholar was Brother Lawrence; theological and doctrinal debates bored him, if he noticed them at all. His one desire was for communion with God."
Brother Lawrence suggested "that we might accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him, with freedom and in simplicity. That we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him at every moment." He was adamant about the remarkable power of the method. "There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it. Were I a preacher, I should, above all other things preach the practice of the presence of God; and were I a director, I should advise all the world to do it, so necessary do I think it, and so easy, too."
Brother Lawrence was quite correct in placing such singular emphasis on this practice of "conversing" with God. The Urantia Book indicates that the doing of the Father's will is synonymous with such inner communion.
"The doing of the will of God is nothing more or less than an exhibition of creature willingness to share the inner life with God..." (*1221:3)
The more we fellowship with the Father, the more our lives can reflect his will. We grow God-like through such constant inner contact.
"Sooner or later we all become aware that all creature growth is proportional to Father identification." (*1174:8)
Perhaps we can best accomplish Father identification — doing God's will — through the communion of inner sharing. Unbroken communion is a habit. It takes persistent effort at first to develop it, but eventually it becomes automatic and relatively effortless.
Brother Lawrence observes, "In order to form a habit of conversing with God continually, and referring all we do to Him, we must first apply to Him with some diligence; but after a little care we should find His love inwardly excites us to it without any difficulty ... We should not wonder if, in the beginning, we often failed in our endeavors, but at last we should gain a habit, which will naturally produce its acts in us, without our care, and to our exceeding great delight ... Thus, by rising after my falls, and by frequently renewed acts of faith and love, I am come to a state wherein it would be as difficult for me not to think of God as it was at first to accustom myself to it."
This is good news. While we may have to work at developing an inner conversation with the Father, eventually it flows effortlessly, affording us great joy and comfort in the press of life.
Rodan observes, "These practices are difficult and time-consuming at first, but when they become habitual, they are at once restful and timesaving. The more complex society becomes, and the more the lures of civilization multiply, the more urgent will become the necessity for God-knowing individuals to form such protective habitual practices designed to conserve and augment their spiritual energies." (*1777:4)
Perhaps Rodan and Brother Lawrence would agree that living in constant communion with God is the paramount spiritual habit. While it can be habitual, inner conversation with God is varied, creative, and ever-experimental. If mortals can communicate in a thousand and one ways, then the shadings of inner dialogue possible between God and man must be well-nigh infinite. Prayer, worship, thanksgiving, reflection, adoration, inspiration, guidance, contemplation, support, and clarification are but a few of the communication paths which wind their way through the vast inner regions of companionshipwith God.
Brother Lawrence describes the options with such sweetness. "God requires no great matters of us: a little remembrance of Him from time to time; a little adoration; sometimes to pray for His grace, sometimes to offer Him your sufferings, and sometimes to return Him thanks for the favors He has given you, and still gives you, in the midst of your troubles, and to console yourself with Him the oftenest you can. Lift up your heart to Him, sometimes even at your meals, and when you are in company; the least little remembrance will always be acceptable to Him. You need not cry very loud; He is nearer to us than we are aware of ... Accustom yourself, then, by degrees thus to worship Him, to beg His grace, to offer Him your heart from time to time in the midst of your business, even every moment, if you can."
The most important step in developing the habit of unbroken communion is to begin, and begin often. Start expressing yourself inwardly at every opportunity. You will forget repeatedly; but each time you recollect, plunge in again. Speak simply, as a child. Ask questions and listen inwardly for response. Share the events of your life with the Father, from the large and pressing questions and challenging relationships, to the small happenings of the day. Pause; allow him to show you his view of them.When you are alone, it is often helpful, at first, to talk out loud to God; it aids in developing the mental focus necessary for effective inner dialogue. Practice maintaining the inner conversation while in the midst of outer activities, and even during conversations with others. Life activities and relationships take on a new shine, a value lustre, when you share them inwardly in unfolding friendship with the Father.
The URANTIA Book is clear in stressing the priority of developing our inner relationship with God. "I cannot but observe that so many of you spend so much time and thought on mere trifles of living, while you almost wholly overlook the more essential realities of everlasting import, those very accomplishments which are concerned with the development of a more harmonious working agreement between you and your Adjusters. The great goal of human existence is to attune to the divinity of the indwelling Adjuster..." (*1206:3)"
The great challenge to modern man is to achieve better communication with the divine Monitor that dwells within the human mind." (*2097:2)
Brother Lawrence, in his humble, human way, utters the same call. "Pray remember what I have recommended to you, which is, to think often on God, by day, by night, in your business, and even in your diversions. He is always near you and with you; leave Him not alone.You would think it rude to leave a friend alone who came to visit you; why, then, must God be neglected? Do not, then, forget Him, but think on Him often, adore Him continually, live and die with Him; this the glorious employment of a child of God. In a word, this is our profession; if we do not know it, we must learn it."