Greetings Fellow Urantia Book Readers,
The first production of the Journal for 2019 highlights authors from around the world and their in-depth presentations of those portions of the book that spoke to them personally. In sharing their experiences, we hope you will discover a greater understanding as well.
Our first essay by Jeanne Vasquez from Uruguay, The Function of Prayer to Strengthen our Faith, was presented at the 2nd Latin-American Conference, São Paulo, Brazil on November 2018. To clarify her understanding of faith and the function of prayer in making her faith stronger, she first examines this quote:
Belief has attained the level of faith when it motivates life and shapes the mode of living. The acceptance of a teaching as true is not faith; that is mere belief. Neither is certainty nor conviction faith. A state of mind attains to faith levels only when it actually dominates the mode of living. Faith is a living attribute of genuine personal religious experience. One believes truth, admires beauty, and reverences goodness, but does not worship them; such an attitude of saving faith is centered on God alone, who is all of these personified and infinitely more. [Paper 101:2.1, page 1114:5]
Jeanne personally surmises that “…a belief in divine teaching, even a belief in The Urantia Book, unless it gradually becomes a living reality in ourselves, is not faith.” She expands this understanding beyond belief itself by actually applying it to her personal experiences through her living faith, which allows her to know God. She says, “This living and growing faith is a gift from God that dominates our mode of living effectively when we follow the divine guidance and teaching. Therefore, our choices and actions of moral and spiritual value are an essential part of the dynamic process of faith strengthening.” By examining the “characteristics of enlightened and effective prayer taught in The Urantia Book,” she edifies the worship experience and faithfully conveys to the reader, “The spiritualization of our minds and souls springs from the personal spiritual experience with God within ourselves, growing through the worshipful communion with God to the loving and altruistic service to humanity, fulfilling the supreme duty of every human being by increasingly yielding the fruits of the spirit in our lives.”
The second contributor, Mark Blackham from Canada, affords us with a spiritual road map in Worship: a Son’s Experience. From his own experiences Mark “…discovered that many spiritual seekers, including many readers of The Urantia Book, have difficulty engaging in sincere worship… It took me a long time to overcome this stumbling block, and I was able to do so only through some deep reflection, timid prayer, and the kind assistance of others.” By examining his personal family interactions, he began to understand that “The conscious recognition of my unresolved issues, my father’s life, and my dawning forgiveness brought about significant changes in my viewpoint, and the subsequent healing experiences were profound.” He found comfort in Jesus’ words in the following passage from The Urantia Book:
“As time passes, fathers and their children will love each other more, and thus will be brought about a better understanding of the love of the Father in heaven for his children on earth.” [Paper 142:2.2, page 1597.2]
Mark’s worship experience road map stops along the way to encompass the vistas of worship and communion, getting to know God, checking attitudes, making choices, as well as many other panoramic considerations that round out the journey to a destination point he found in the benefits of worship, overcoming limitations to worship, and doing the Will of God, all of which lead us to Paradise.
If you yield to the leadings of the spiritual forces in you and around you, you cannot fail… [Paper 5:1.12, page 64.3]
The final essay on The Meaning of Worship and Service comes from William Wentworth of Australia, and originally presented at the Australian National Conference, October 2010. In his search for the meaning of worship and service, he understands that worship is a personal experience and is a way to honor God as our Father but he also asks, “Is it also the recognition of the non-personal aspect of deity?” Believing that it is, he refers to Jesus’ teaching, defining worship as:
…the act of a part identifying itself with the Whole; the finite with the Infinite; the son with the Father; time in the act of striking step with eternity. Worship is the act of the son’s personal communion with the divine Father, the assumption of refreshing, creative, fraternal and romantic attitudes by the human soul-spirit. [Paper 143:7.8, page 1616:10]
William also helps us understand the difference between prayer and worship: “Prayer is asking the Father for something, a request for the exercise of divine power to assist the son in solving some problem. There is self-interest involved. Worship, on the other hand, asks for nothing. It is purely an attempt to commune with the Father…”
In defining worship and prayer, he outlines the benefits of both and how they strengthen the meaning of service as tied to love, reiterating that “love is the desire to do good to others; service is the attempt to actually do that good.” Worship is the result of that understanding and its recognition of our sonship with our Father God.
Happy and enlightened reading.