There are a number of us who suffer from doubt and downright disbelief in the divine. Many of us wonder just what it means for people to say God talks to them. Some people claim God has spoken audibly to them. Others say they are “impressed” in their soul. Still others say it’s a feeling, like the wind. You can’t see it but you know it’s there. Then there are those of us who never experienced any of those things, who never experienced God speaking to them in any discernible way.
Ahab asked the question recently, “what do you believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray? Overactive imagination? Altered state of consciousness? Something else entirely?”
It is not my desire to belittle those who believe God has “spoken” to them. But Ahab asked what I believe is going on with those who claim such. Here is what I believe. I believe it can be the product of an overactive imagination. When we fill our minds with certain things our minds begin to play tricks on us. I’ve known people who lied about something long enough that they actually believed the lie was the truth. Some people believe they’ve seen angels or demons or the Virgin Mary. Have they? Is it all in their mind?
As I was researching some information for The Miraculous I came across a phenomenon called Stigmata. The religious adherent believes they have received from God the wounds of Christ, though Christianity isn’t the only religion where stigmata is reported. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded case of stigmata and Sister Therese Neumann is said to be a confirmed case of such. Those outside of the Catholic Church and in particular those who are skeptical of this phenomena associate such as markers of a form of hysteria or psychosis. Each case is remarkably different. The wounds manifest in the way that the stigmatic believes them to have occurred. Some wounds appear in palms while others appear in wrists, some in the feet and others in the ankles. It completely depends on the stigmatic’s idea of the crucifixion. Simply put, it’s the power of suggestion coupled with severe stress or mental disorder. There is strong suggestion that the wounds may be self inflicted and in some cases have proven to be such.
What do I believe is going on with people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray? I believe it’s a combination of things, not the least of which is a strong desire for God to communicate with them along with the firm belief that he will communicate with them. There are people who believe their deceased loved ones speak to them from the grave. There are people who honestly believe they’ve been abducted by aliens. Is it so difficult to believe there are people who honestly believe God speaks to them on a regular basis? What do you believe is happening in the minds of people who claim that God communicates with them when they pray?