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Do You Believe in Miracles?

5 prominent religious leaders share their answers — and their definitions

Levitating rock representing belief in miracles

— Peter Ogilvie/Glasshouse

En español | Do you believe in miracles? At first glance, it seems a simple question that separates true believers from jaded skeptics. But perhaps the answer is more nuanced than that. Maybe we need to question our terms and ask, what is a miracle, anyway? We got five spiritual leaders to weigh in on this issue.

Dr. Charles Stanley, Radio Host and Pastor, In Touch Ministries, Atlanta

Miracles certainly exist. Jesus performed many during His lifetime. He healed people, turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana, and fed over 5,000 people with just five loaves and two fishes. Even today, God often turns impossible circumstances into possibilities, and in doing so meets our needs and brings Himself glory.

We must be careful, however, not to base our faith on these miracles. Sometimes, people think if they see something absolutely unusual, then they'll be able to believe. But once they've seen one miracle, they want another one and a bigger one. It's as if God's promises aren't enough. They think, prove it to me; show it to me. But what happens when times are tough and they don't get that miracle? They lose their faith.

God provides miracles because He wants to show us who He is, not because we have a desire to experience supernatural circumstances.

Next: Miracles are everywhere. >>

Butterflies in Mexico representing belief in miracles

— Patricio Robles Gil/Minden Pictures/National Geographic

Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara, Village Zendo, New York

Do I believe in miracles? I don't think so. "Believing" in something is a little too fixed for my experience of this constantly changing, shifting world. But miracles? I witness them daily. There is the miracle of an angry face melting into an easeful smile. There is the miracle of snow covering a whole city in a quiet purity. There is the miracle of the snow melting, revealing the ordinary colors of our daily life. What is it we call a miracle? Isn't it to recognize the fullness, the great wholeness of life as it expresses itself in each moment? The miracle of house sparrows frolicking in the winter undergrowth; the living beings all around us; the miracle of steam flowing from a good cup of coffee — ahhh!

Next: Miracles of the everyday. >>

The beach at night representing belief in miracles

— Spencer Murphy/Gallery Stock

Dr. Amina Wadud, Muslim Scholar and Activist

Yes, there are extraordinary miracles, but in Islam the overwhelming emphasis is on the miracles of the everyday: in nature herself, or the wonder of our created selves. Thus, to see the sun rise over the great ocean is a miracle. To look into the expanse of the Grand Canyon is a miracle. To watch the tiniest seed become the great tree is a miracle.

Awe acts as a reminder of the Creator of all things great and small, and we are brought up to the sacred throne by our witness, causing us to feel reverence, give thanks and honor by worship and good deeds. We are called to attention in the presence of miracles. Our everyday, ordinary lives are synchronized, for however short or long, with the ultimate concerns of love, peace and fellowship.

Next: Miracles are a state of mind. >>

A woman's hand grazes the tops of long grasses near a mountain lake.

— Philip and Karen Smith/Getty Images

Byron Katie, Spiritual Teacher and Founder of The Work

I believe in miracles. I also believe in the laws of physics. Miracles are not a state of matter; they're a state of mind. Every moment, there is a miracle happening in my life and in the lives of all who take the trouble to notice. Noticing is all that is required. For example, notice exactly where your hands are at this moment. Did you plan it? Did you do it? Didn't it just happen, through you, for you? Are you ever doing anything, when you look closely? We take all the credit with stories like "I did it," and our stories don't include the power that opened the rosebud and grew my grandchild. In the moment, without my story, life happens perfectly.

Next: Miracles are simple. >>

Goldfish swim in a pond representing belief in miracles

— Anders Hviid/Gallery Stock

Rabbi Steve Blane, Founder and Spiritual Leader, Havurah Sim Shalom

I do believe in miracles. But they are not necessarily "3-D HD Ten Commandment-Mega-Red-Sea-Parting" style miracles. The first blades of a new springtime grass are miracles. Our bodies responding to our thoughts and desires — the flexing of our fingers, the beating of our hearts, our children being born — are certainly miracles. The endless litany of nature's bounty that surrounds us is a never-ending miracle. It is up to us to be open to, and aware of, the miracles which fill us every moment of every blessed day. If we can learn to empty our hearts and minds of the distractions in our lives that come between us and God, we can become aware of how miraculous life truly is. Always.

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