Here’s our weekly foray into non-religious spirituality from Dana Horton, this time dealing with ideas of time and prayer. But by way of introduction, let me quote this article on research into the psychological benefits of prayer:
Researchers from Baylor University found that people who pray to a loving and protective God are less likely to experience anxiety-related disorders — worry, fear, self-consciousness, social anxiety and obsessive compulsive behavior — compared to people who pray but don’t really expect to receive any comfort or protection from God….
The findings add to the growing body of research confirming a connection between a person’s perceived relationship with God and mental and physical health. In fact, a recent study by Oregon State University found that religion and spirituality result in two distinct but complementary health benefits. Religion (religious affiliation and service attendance) is linked to better health habits, including less smoking and alcohol consumption, while spirituality (prayer, meditation) helps regulate emotions.
Another recent study by Columbia University found that participating in regular meditation or other spiritual practice actually thickens parts of the brain’s cortex, and this could be the reason those activities tend to guard against depression — especially in those at risk for the disease.
Of course, none of this is concerned with the truth of any given religion or god in question, the content of prayer or the particular religious context. Also with regard to the above, beware the confounding variables. Could a third thing be responsible for the potential correlation (not causation) such that certainty may be the culprit? We know that when people are less sure of their beliefs, whether religious or non-religious, there are more mental health issues (as this paper by the awesome Luke Galen shows) – so it is not the content but the certainty of adhering to that content.
Anyway, over to Dana.
Is Time Irrelevant in Prayer?
A few things about time and spirituality today. First some fun physics facts.
- Moving clocks. Moving clocks run slower than stationary clocks. Yep. Put one clock on a plane; leave the other at the airport. If the plane flies around the world and lands at the same airport, it’s clock will show a time that is slightly behind the one left at the airport. It’s small — about 300 billionths of a second. But the plane is going relatively slow compared to, say, the speed of light.
- Is Back to the Future a Real Possibility? If time travel is possible, physicists think we can probably go forward, but not backward. It is an extension of that whole moving-clock concept in the above bullet. Plus, things might not go well if we went backward and caused something different to happen.
- As things age (e.g. Me, You, the Universe), entropy increases. You can’t put it back in the box. It is one of the premises of The Big Bang theory.
Here’s an article that explains some of these things succinctly enough for the non-physicists on staff. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-time-4156799
Time and Prayer. Turning in a spiritual direction, we have always been confused by our prayer class in New Thought ministerial school. We were taught to always use the past tense when setting an intention or stating a manifestation. For example, “I know that Joe Smith’s arm is already perfectly healed.” Or, “I know that Sally has already found her perfect relationship.”
We can understand from a psychological aspect how the use of the past tense can help set a person’s mind toward achieving a specific goal. The spiritual aspect gets a little trickier: Since time has no meaning in the Mind of God, then all manifestations (including healings and relationships) can happen now. This compression concept of time is also one of the basic tenets of The Secret.
Do Spiritual Laws Transcend Physics? There are multiple reports on the internet about spontaneous healings that confound science. Our readers may also have a personal experience of healings or manifestations that are beyond understanding. And it is not our place to dismiss these healings. But what about the 99.999% of the rest of us who do not experience those instantaneous results?
- Maybe we did not have enough faith in the spiritual process. This is possible. But we have known several people with deep faith traditions that still have problems manifesting what they desire. And we do not accept the counter-argument that the manifestation only has to be a feeling, not a real thing (“I feel like I just won a million dollars, so that means I have manifested what I want”). BS.
- Maybe we have not allowed enough time to pass to allow the process to work. Sometimes days, weeks, and months go by. We say the same prayers weekly. And nothing happens. Again the response is unsatisfactory: Sometimes we have to wait for God’s time. Or more dissatisfying: You must not have embraced the feeling of the words in your prayer. Also BS.
Despite these shortcomings on the theological side, we are not ready to dismiss prayer and the spiritual track altogether. There is no downside to incorporating the potential help from a higher power (even if it’s not an old man in the sky, which it isn’t). And we are still going to do our spiritual practices, all while keeping our wits about us.
Wrapping up. We’ll stop here for today. We think we’ll stare out the window late this afternoon and ponder this: If the Universe is constantly expanding (aka Big Bang), what is it expanding into?
Dana Horton is from Ohio, United States and is currently (though not for much longer) working full time as Director of Energy Markets a large utility company. In August 2019, he earned his ministerial license through an organization called Centers for Spiritual Living based in Denver, Colorado. This is a New Thought organization following the principles of Ernest Holmes. He acted as interim minister at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living and, after eight months, he decided to leave and has no interest in returning to a formal religious organization. But he enjoys investigating spiritual principles, how they originated, and how they might be applicable to everyday living. I also enjoy discovering the history of both the Old and New Testaments, and how it differs (greatly) from the traditional Christian interpretations.
Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook: