Spiritual Detective, Religious Scientist, Wisdom Investigator
The Dynamics of Inner Spiritual Guidance
Dr. Meredith J. Sprunger
Basic Conditions Which
Facilitate the Reception of Spiritual Guidance
- I. Basic conditions which facilitate the
reception of spiritual guidance: Seeking to recognize and follow spiritual
guidance is the most important aspect of human life. It is central to the
teachings of Jesus and the great religious prophets of history.
- A. Wanting to do the
Father's will more than anything else.
- 1. A categorical will
decision to dedicate one's life to God.
- 2. The source of an
all-pervasive motivation for our lives.
- 3. Learning to discipline
and master our minds—we need to control, guide, and direct our thinking
as it is the key of all personality development and growth.
- a. Develop a habitual
spiritual frame of reference.
- b. Eliminate the garbage
and emotional poisons from our thinking.
- B. Take short retreats for
relaxation, thought clarification, and recharging the spiritual resources
of our soul.
- C. Engage in prayer and
worship. It is important to understand the essential principles of
creative prayer and worship.
- 1. Prayer and worship are
complementary. Prayer has an element of self or creature interest and
concern. Worship in the contemplation of God and is an and in itself.
Prayer may lead to worship and be an aid to worship.
- 2.Prayer is communion with
God which expands insight. It is both a sound psychological practice
which augments self-realization and an effective spiritual technique to
expand the soul.
- 3. Prayer is not a
technique to escape life's difficulties but a way in which we can learn
to face conflict and suffering meaningfully and courageously. Prayer
does not change God's mind but it may change the person praying.
- 4. Primitive and immature
prayer attempts to plead or bargain with God for health, wealth, power,
or preference. Prayer, however, cannot be used to circumvent universe
laws and the limits of time and space. The spiritual level of people is
revealed by the nature of their prayers; however, the more mature should
not criticize or ridi cule the naive and the immature.
- 5. Words are not important
in prayer; God responds only to the true and sincere attitudes of the
mind and soul. We should pray for divine guidance to solve human
problems, not for some cosmic, miraculous solution.
- 6. To pray effectively we
must face reality honestly and intelligently, attempt to solve problems
creatively through spiritual guidance with the resources which we have,
be dedicated to doing the will of God, and have living faith.
Efficacious prayer should be: unselfish—not alone for oneself,
believing—according to faith, sincere—honest of heart,
intelligent—according to our insight and knowledge, and trustful—in
submission to the Father's all-wise will.
- 7. Only prayers which are
rooted in spiritual reality and sustained by faith are answered in the
frames of reference of the petitioner. Prayers are answered in terms of
true spiritual needs. We should not attempt to use prayer as a
substitute for human ingenuity, and action; it cannot be used to escape
reality. Some prayers because of their visionary aspirations and
all-encompassing nature can only be fully answered in eternity.
- 8. Prayer is a vital and
indispensable factor In spiritual growth, Even immature and presumptuous
prayers expand the soul's potential. Prayer is a major resource for the
achievement of human self-realization, effectiveness, and inner peace,
Prayer also has great social repercussions and is an antidote to
- 9. Worship is spiritual
communion with God; it is the part identifying with the Whole. It should
not be confused with psychic or mystical experiences. God-consciousness
is humanity's greatest opportunity and challenge.
- 10. Worship is the most
creative activity of personal growth. It renews the mind, stimulates
soul growth, eliminates insecurity and personality isolation, and
greatly increases the total resources of the individual. Worship should
alter with service; it is ancestor to the highest joys of humankind.
- D. Making decisions and
taking action—grappling with specific life opportunities and problems.
- 1. The clearest spiritual
guidance comes through experience, not theoretical contemplation.
- 2. Spiritual guidance is
especially communicated through the process of service to our fellow
- 3. The spirit of God can
most effectively adjust, guide, and direct when we are engaged in the
concrete activities of human life—when there is something tangible to
guide and direct.
- 4. The feed-back of human
experience is the most substantial and reliable channel of receiving
spiritual wisdom, direction, and vision.
- 5. The spirit of God
indwelling each of us has a plan for our lives. Our greatest adventure
in life is discovering and actualizing that plan.
II. How Do
We Test the Validity of Spiritual Guidance?
- A. First we must realize that our minds are
quite capable of deceiving us. If we do not critically examine our inner
leadings, it is easy to mistake our own subconscious will for the will of
God (superconscious direction). Even genuine spiritual guidance can be
distorted—often leading to half-truths and fanaticism.
- 1. Spiritual guidance is
often on the unconscious level. God's leading is so benign, subtle, and
unimposing, so admixed with the ordinary things of life that we often cannot
be certain whether our inclinations have their source in our subconscious
motivational needs or our superconscious value direction.
- a. We hear naive,
fundamentalistic Christians glibly declaring "God spoke to
me..." or "God told me to do this or that." Even as a
small boy when my parents attended one of these emotional groups I had
some doubts about the 20/20 spiritual vision of some of the statements I
- b. The phenomena of voices
heard by the mind's ear and visions seen by the mind's eye have been
relatively frequent in religious experience. Such unusual events are
impressive to the person experiencing them; however, we should not
over-react but apply to them the same tests for validity that we give to
the "inner leadings" of our every day life.
- 2. Who can say for certain
that the coincidental circumstances which seem to focus meaning or value
in our lives are of divine direction or are merely the chance happenings
- a. Usually our first
response to an inclination, leading, or idea is intuitive. We
"feel" it is right, wrong, good, or questionable. Many of our
decisions are made at this intuitive level.
- b. Over the years as one
observes these "meaningful coincidences" and ponders their
precise timing one begins to suspect and then often believe that some
kind of spiritual planning and guidance must have been involved in the
production of such meaningful juxtapositions of events.
- c. Since so much of our
spiritual guidance seems to be associated with the common experiences of
every day life, one suspects that the presence of God is a matter of
using circumstantial manipulation as a communication technique.
- 3. Following our intuitive
reaction to inner leadings, we need to use our common sense and logical
thinking to evaluate our inclinations. We ought to be particularly wary
of those leadings which logically could have origins in our conscious or
subconscious fears and anxieties or those which reinforce our egocentric
psychological needs—pride, selfishness, security, justification, importance,
prestige, etc. It is dangerous to uncritically accept our own human
desires and needs for divinely inspired direction. Conversely, if we
have a tendency toward guilt and self-punishment, we ought not reject
leading simply because they contribute to our fulfillment as sons-and
daughters of God.
- B. All of this subjective difficulty in
evaluating and testing spiritual guidance points to the need for some
objective standards by which we can assess our inner orientation.
- 1. We should apply
objective criteria to complement our subjective evaluation.
- a. Is it harmonious with
the highest teachings of The Urantia Book? Is it something Jesus would
- b. Is it harmonious with
the highest values and thinking of human religious culture?
- c. Is it contrary to
scientifically verified facts and the best scientific orientation?
- d. What do the people
whose judgment I most respect think about it? The approval of others is
not of paramount importance but listening to the wisdom of others may be
helpful to our discernment.
- e. How does time and
experience affect this leading or sense of mission? We need to
"sleep on it," to allow days, weeks, and months to see how
inner convictions look over a period of time.
- f. After we are confident
in our thinking that the idea or action contemplated is good and
consistent with the highest and best that we know it is time to get
experiential validation—we need to act.
- 2. After taking the leap of
faith-in action, service, and living what does this experience reveal?
How does it measure up to the following seven-fold pragmatic experiential
- a. Does it improve one's
- b. Does it improve one's
- c. What social effects
does it have — does it promote love and unity or fear, anger, and
- d. Does it contribute to
the spiritualization of one's every day life?
- e. Does it enhance one's
appreciation of truth, beauty, and goodness?
- f. Does it conserve one's
most basic and highest values?
- g. Does it increase one's
- h. Does it help bring God
to humankind and lead humankind to God?
- 3. The feedback of
experience will give us information and wisdom which thinking and theory
cannot reveal. In this testing of our "inner leadings" through
thought and action, and altering our behavior on the basis of the
feedback of experience we have exhausted our human evaluative capacities.
We then must live in faith and inner conviction that we are following the
will of God for our lives because we are living and acting on the highest
and best that we know. Our lives are then enhanced by the power of the
A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship
"Magic and Superstition."
From the Urantia Book
Page 150:3.2 Late that evening Jesus gave the united group a memorable
talk on "Magic and Superstition."
In those days the appearance of a
bright and supposedly new star was regarded as a token indicating that a great
man had been born on earth. Such a star having then recently been observed,
Andrew asked Jesus if these beliefs were well founded. In the long answer to
Andrew's question the Master entered upon a thoroughgoing discussion of the
whole subject of human superstition. The statement which Jesus made at this
time may be summarized in modern phraseology as follows:
1. 150:3.3 The courses of
the stars in the heavens have nothing whatever to do with the events of human
life on earth. Astronomy is a proper pursuit of science, but astrology is a
mass of superstitious error which has no place in the gospel of the kingdom.
2. 150:3.4 The examination
of the internal organs of an animal recently killed can reveal nothing about
weather, future events, or the outcome of human affairs.
3. 150:3.5 The spirits of
the dead do not come back to communicate with their families or their onetime
friends among the living.
4. 150:3.6 Charms and
relics are impotent to heal disease, ward off disaster, or influence evil
spirits; the belief in all such material means of influencing the spiritual
world is nothing but gross superstition.
5. 150:3.7 Casting lots,
while it may be a convenient way of settling many minor difficulties, is not a
method designed to disclose the divine will. Such outcomes are purely matters
of material chance. The only means of communion with the spiritual world is
embraced in the spirit endowment of mankind, the indwelling spirit of the
Father, together with the outpoured spirit of the Son and the omnipresent
influence of the Infinite Spirit.
6. 150:3.8 Divination,
sorcery, and witchcraft are superstitions of ignorant minds, as also are the
delusions of magic. The belief in magic numbers, omens of good luck, and
harbingers of bad luck, is pure and unfounded superstition.
7. 150:3.9 The
interpretation of dreams is largely a superstitious and groundless system of
ignorant and fantastic speculation. The gospel of the kingdom must have nothing
in common with the soothsayer priests of primitive religion.
8. 150:3.10 The spirits of
good or evil cannot dwell within material symbols of clay, wood, or metal;
idols are nothing more than the material of which they are made.
9. 150:3.11 The practices
of the enchanters, the wizards, the magicians, and the sorcerers, were derived
from the superstitions of the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and
the ancient Canaanites. Amulets and all sorts of incantations are futile either
to win the protection of good spirits or to ward off supposed evil spirits.
150:3.12 He exposed and denounced their belief in spells, ordeals,
bewitching, cursing, signs, mandrakes, knotted cords, and all other forms of
ignorant and enslaving superstition.
concept of a spirit's entering into an inanimate object, an animal, or a human
being, is a very ancient and honorable belief, having prevailed since the
beginning of the evolution of religion.
Evolved humanity, now attacks
the problems of a real environment through science; savage man attempted to
solve the real problems of an illusory ghost environment by magic.
Magic was the technique
of manipulating the conjectured spirit environment whose machinations endlessly
explained the inexplicable; it was the art of obtaining voluntary spirit
co-operation and of coercing involuntary spirit aid through the use of fetishes
or other and more powerful spirits.
The object of magic,
sorcery, and necromancy was twofold:
1. To secure insight into the future.
Favorably to influence
The objects of science
are identical with those of magic. Mankind is progressing from magic to
science, not by meditation and reason, but rather through long experience,
gradually and painfully. Man is gradually backing into the truth, beginning in
error, progressing in error, and finally attaining the threshold of truth. Only
with the arrival of the scientific method has he faced forward. But primitive
man had to experiment or perish.