I was going on fifteen when the Creator of the universe first revealed himself to me, at a junior high after-school Bible study that I was attending for purely social reasons. After a half hour or so of chips & dip, Hawaiian punch, and strategic mingling in hopes of impressing various objects of newfound romantic yearning, we awkward and giggly adolescents settled in the living room of our classmate’s home, and the Presbyterian minister began a simple talk about the parable of the sower. A few minutes into it, I suddenly became aware that a huge presence, way too big and powerful to be a figment of my imagination, was lifting me up and showing me, in a blinding flash of light and truth, that everything on earth was contained within a sort of giant aquarium that was itself couched within a larger milieu of love and benevolence. Suspended, momentarily, above the sofas and chairs and tables and paintings, I knew that everything was going to be OK and that all earthly events were relatively unimportant in themselves because of this position the planet occupied as a world within a larger world. A minute or two later, when I tuned back in to the minister’s talk, he was on the last category of the sower’s seed, that which fell on the good soil and yielded a hundredfold crop, and I thought my brain was going to explode with joy.
Over the subsequent decades, while the memory of my vision has been a source of tremendous comfort, my personal dialogue with the obtruding being has undergone constant evolution that continues to this day. At some point after the Bible-study zapping, it occurred to me that it surely would be nice if I could get petitionary prayer to work—"ask, and it shall be given unto you"—so I started trying different techniques of getting the being to grant my requests. My earliest efforts were concentrated on compensating for my hearing impairment; the 70% loss meant I was continually subject to such incidents as being called on in class when I had no idea what was being asked, so I tried entreating God with a kind of willed belief (almost like a blind faith) to prevent those occurrences, and they largely ceased. Gradually over the years, the scope of my prayer subjects increased, as did the sophistication of my petitioning technique. By my early forties, I was making some rather remarkable progress in areas like relationships and money management as well as my endeavors to teach school despite my disability, but this success was achieved only through repeated psychic struggles. Aware that most books on praying tended to gloss over the nitty-gritty of what actually took place in the gray matter of the person trying to pray, I began keeping a psychologically detailed spiritual journal. That journal is the raw material of my upcoming book, Petitioning God: What I Really Had to Do to Get My Prayers Answered.