God’s Gift of Tremendous Power by Ann Shakespeare
This new Christian lifestyle guide reveals how the latest understanding of quantum physics not only supports Biblical teachings but can also help readers find a deeper connection with God
By Timothy Arden
Religious faith does not seek or expect corroboration from science. Indeed, the traditional view is that the spheres of science and religion are incompatible and must forever go their separate ways.
However, new Christian lifestyle guide God’s Gift of Tremendous Power challenges this assertion by exploring how the latest understanding of quantum physics can, in fact, bring a dynamic new depth to the sacred connection between worshippers and God.
Published through Deep River Books, this thoughtful work is the first non-academic title to connect the discoveries of the quantum world with a comprehensive scriptural foundation. In doing so, author Ann Shakespeare has reclaimed an important idea from the fringes of theological debate and repackaged it in easy-to-understand terms for the benefit of all Christians.
The history of quantum physics stretches back just over a century, with Albert Einstein’s ground-breaking realisation that matter and energy are, in fact, one and the same, and that matter can be viewed as “simply frozen energy”. His work, and that of the generations of physicists who succeed him, shattered the long-held scientific view that the universe was simply mechanistic—that is, that it could be explained solely in terms of blocks of matter and discrete physical processes. By this reckoning, everyone and everything was enclosed in a deterministic system which was characterised by separateness and fragmentation.
As we now understand things, however, matter is just the flipside of energy and at the heart of reality is an invisible swirling field of energy that is all pervasive and interconnects all things. In other words, the universe is not only infinite – as many cosmologists now believe - but it is also infinitely connected.
Ann—the former editor of Action, the monthly journal of international social justice organisation the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC)—uses the non-scientific term “quantum field” in God’s Gift as a shorthand for this heady concept, which has profound implications for prayer and worship.
Rather than getting bogged down in abstruse theory that would perplex anyone outside of CERN, Ann deliberately keeps things simple. Her interest lies firmly in what readers can gain from a basic grasp of the quantum field for the purpose of developing a wider understanding of the power and the majesty of God, and its significance for day-to-day living. She points out that, at a singular moment called the Big Bang, God formed the quantum field through which He created everything, ranging from the massive, spreading galaxies to the tiniest, most delicate butterfly. Because of its quality of connectedness (oneness) the quantum field is an extremely sensitive medium of communication; an understanding of this can have a significant impact on the power of prayer and meditation to bring about healing and transformation.
As the author explains, Christians have tended to hold to a dualistic – or Old Testament – view of the universe. But changing perspective to incorporate a deeper understanding of the Omnipresence of God – heightened by insights regarding the oneness, or connectedness, of the quantum field – opens the door to an inspirational and fresh vision of what it means for Christians to discover their true identity in Christ, and to live more fully in the flow and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Ann, a seasoned writer who has also contributed to such respected international publications as Time magazine, is clearly well-versed in biblical scripture and uses this knowledge well, selecting a comprehensive and logical selection of passages to show how the discoveries of quantum physics accord with scriptures, such as the following: “There is one body and one Spirit . . . one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:4, 6).
Again, though, this is not an academic treatise but a practical and inspirational handbook that presents a dynamic vision of what it means to live “in Christ Jesus” and to be empowered by Him so that Christians can learn how to better align themselves with biblical truth in order to be channels of God’s love and resurrection power.
The greater part of God’s Gift is dedicated to providing readers with sound and reasoned instruction on how to access the power of God through prayer and meditation upon the Word of God. The author, a devout Christian for over 30 years, attests to the transformative nature of these disciplines but observes that the way forward is first to embrace utter weakness.
It is, she says, by identifying with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that Christians can grow increasingly into His likeness and thereby begin to see the awesome power of God released through prayer. Like the apostle Paul, you must first learn to let go of your own ego by surrendering it to Christ and letting Him live His life through you. Ann illustrates this point with various passages from scripture including Paul’s declaration: “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10b).
The remainder of the book offers encouraging steps on how to strengthen your prayer life and deepen your meditations so that, by the end, the reader may be richly equipped regarding how to do the works “which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10, NIV).
In the final chapter, Ann reaffirms how the opening up of the quantum world has bridged the theology-science divide for Christians. Having highlighted how the theories of quantum physics reinforce scripture and spiritual truths, she exhorts of the latter that “The time has come to see that they are much more than metaphor. In fact, these truths are waiting to be fanned into flame by the faith of believers.”
Part lifestyle companion and part spiritual call to action, then, God’s Gift of Tremendous Power is a fluent and intelligent guide that would inspire and motivate any Christian seeking to enrich their faith.
Meet the Author: Ann Shakespeare
After a life-transforming encounter with Jesus Christ in her 30s, Christian author Ann Shakespeare enjoyed a rewarding career with international organisations helping making a positive change to the world…
God’s Gift of Tremendous Power may be Ann Shakespeare’s first book, but she is no stranger to the written word, having enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a journalist and copywriter.
After graduating from university, she travelled to South America where she secured her first job as a reporter, feature writer and then assistant editor for The Daily Journal, an English-language national newspaper in Caracas, Venezuela. It was stimulating work, although on one occasion Ann nearly lost her job when she included an April Fool hoax story about the ruins of an ancient civilization being discovered in a hole in Caracas. The joke backfired when Ann realized, to her horror, that April Fool’s Day is not known in Venezuela and had to deal with a raft of calls from excited archaeologists wanting to learn more.
During this time she also worked as a freelance writer, contributing to such respected international titles as Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and BBC World Service.
By her early 30s, Ann was battling with depression and admits to being in a “dark place”, but her life was about to turn around for the better. A friend passed her a book outlining the historical evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, which motivated her to look more deeply into Jesus’ life and teachings. It marked the beginning of a life-long exploration of Christian teachings which Ann credits with bringing her a new-found and lasting purpose. She says that her personal transformation came one night when she prayed and asked Jesus to come into her life. The following days she was amazed to find that she felt like she had been born again, with the sensation that “a veil had been lifted from my eyes, mind and heart.”
Ann relocated to the UK where she embarked on a new career path that would allow her to utilise her writing skills and proficiency in foreign languages with sharing the Christian message and helping others. She joined the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), an international NGO promoting social justice, where she worked as an information co-ordinator and the editor of the association’s monthly journal, Action, for nearly a decade.
During her time in Caracas, Ann had witnessed the distinct gap between the rich and poor and with WACC she was able to become involved in Christian outreach to Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Nicaragua, as well as Burma, Mexico and South Africa. On one occasion, however, she was not allowed to leave Nicaragua, after a visit to the slums of the capital, Managua, until she paid a bribe. It was “quite an alarming experience”, she recalls, and a clear indication of the level of corruption in the country at the time.
While with WACC she spent a secondment in Manila, Philippines, where she ran a press office and daily newspaper during an international conference, but she says that her fondest memory of her years with the organization was meeting her “spiritual teacher and guide”, Neville Jayaweera, who was then serving as WAAC’s director of research and planning. She credits Neville with opening to her the deeper things of Christ, and providing a “rare grasp of spiritual disciplines and of the doctrines of different faiths and philosophies”. They have remained firm friends ever since, with Neville providing the foreword for her book.
After saying goodbye to WACC, Ann worked for several years as a translator and interpreter for Tearfund, an international Christian relief and development agency, before moving into freelance writing and editing work, which she continues to do today, at the age of 67.
For more than three decades, she has also been involved in prayer ministry in different churches and church-related organisations. At present, she ministers in an ecumenical centre which offers prayer and pastoral support to people in the local community in south Lincolnshire, where she lives with her husband.
Exclusive Q&A with Ann ShakespeareWe speak with Christian author Ann Shakespeare about why the latest scientific understanding of the universe can also open a new dimension to faith and prayer.
Q. In your new book you talk about the quantum field. Why is this relevant?
A. It is relevant because discoveries in quantum (or modern) physics over the last century have significant implications for prayer and worship. You could say that the discoveries have actually ‘caught up’ with the truth of oneness, or universal connectedness, that has always been very clearly expressed in the writings of the New Testament.
Up until the dawn of the 20th century, scientists held to the classical, Newtonian model of physics which considered the universe and everything within it as being made up of distinct and individual pieces of matter. Then came Albert Einstein, who discovered that matter is, in fact, not made up of separated elements, and that matter and energy are actually one and the same thing. His work led to further discoveries that revealed that the universe is made up of immense swirls, or fields, of vibrating energy which are all interconnected, constituting one vast universal field of energy. I use the term “quantum field” in my book as helpful shorthand to describe this universal field of energy. You could think of it as the basic fabric of creation from which everything in the universe has been fashioned.
Another metaphor for this could be the soft clay which God created and from which He sculpted His creation into existence. It is the basic substance of everything that exists, including human beings. It is the invisible essence that connects and interconnects us all.
This understanding of connectedness throughout the entire universe is a powerful and profound means of illuminating God’s Word, and sheds light on scriptural verses such as: “The one who fills the whole wide universe” (Eph. 1:23, Phillips) and “There is one body and one Spirit, … one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all” (Eph. 4:4 and 6).
Of course, the Word of God is Truth and Christians do not need human scientific discoveries to prove it. However, such discoveries should not be ignored as they can enrich our understanding of scripture. They have the potential to add new depths to our worship and can help lead to experiencing greater power and positive effect in our prayer lives.
Q. You also talk about oneness and union with God, but isn’t that more appropriate to new-age philosophy?
A. Well, Christ invented oneness long before New Age came along!
Yes, it is also a concept found in New Age philosophies, but there is a vast difference between those philosophies and New Testament truth. The New Age approach is based on the concept that everyone is inherently divine and that human beings simply need to “realise” their oneness with God.
However, the truth is that oneness or union with God can only be attained through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. No amount of meditating or declaring that we are all divine will overcome the chasm of separation that can only be bridged by the redemption of Jesus.
It is vital that we hold fast to the truth that the very reason that Jesus came to earth was to redeem us and to bring us back into full union with Godhead. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, there is no more separation.
The truth of oneness is, naturally, foolishness to our human minds and to our five senses. However, discoveries in modern physics regarding our connectedness help to enlarge and enliven our faith and to step beyond that which is visible and tangible.
Q. With your ideas about the quantum field, are you, in effect, putting forward a new theology?
A. No, not at all! Rather than theology, I would use the word “vision”. This book attempts to put forward a vision of what it means to live “in Christ” and to live out His will in our daily experience.
This vision includes a deeper understanding of the all-encompassing nature of the presence and the power of God which Christ makes available to every believer, as expressed in these verses: "Behold! I have given you authority and power" (Luke 10:19 Amplified) and “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do” (John 14:12).
This vision cannot be grasped intellectually or with our five senses – it is received and experienced through faith in Christ and His Word. We do use our brains to help us to internalise and meditate upon truth but we are not required to ‘understand’ everything with the human mind in order to pray effectively. Instead, we can trust the Holy Spirit to empower our prayers, to keep enlightening us and to lead us into all truth.
Q. What was the springboard for God’s Gift of Tremendous Power?
A. A growing awareness of the awesome significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection in the light of discoveries in modern physics that show the connectedness of all that exists—and that has ever existed—since the creation of the universe.
It is an astounding fact that all the subatomic particles and elements that now constitute you and me have been in existence since the beginning. To put it another way, all the particles in your body were already contained in Christ at the point of creation.
Up until relatively recently, the biblical truth that “In him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (Col. 1:16) remained at the level of mystery. Christians were able to engage with it through faith, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, but they could not relate it to scientific fact. Now, over the last 100 years, scientific knowledge has started to catch up with biblical truth and to express it in factual terms.
My springboard, then, was an ever-increasing wonder at the majesty and power of God, and the very practical empowerment that this awareness has given to my own faith and prayer life, and to the faith and prayer lives of others whom I know.
Q. In your book you discuss how meditation is important, but is this something that everyone can do?
A. If you can spend some minutes thinking about something—as opposed to having a series of fleeting thoughts—then you already meditating! The challenge is to choose to think about the things of Christ, rather than simply letting your mind travel without an aim. It does require attention and discipline because the “old Adam” mind resists the things of God and will wander off elsewhere if not kept in check. However, let us not listen to the lie that it’s impossible to get our mind under control. God does not ask us to do something that is not possible! On the contrary, He provides us with all that we need to obey His command in Romans 12:2, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
The aim of meditation is to literally soak our minds and brains with the love of God and the truth of His Word. Then what will come out of us will echo the truth and the love of God. Our lives, our speech, our faith and our prayers will all reflect our consistently dominant thoughts.
Q. Is there a particular formula for prayer that will release God’s power?
A. No, there is no set formula or method. I have included some sample prayers in this book but they are simply illustrations that I hope will inspire and help readers to develop their own prayers.
Much more important than the form of prayer used, is the believer’s quality of relationship with Christ. If we take time to identify with the death and resurrection of Christ and to rest in the knowledge that our life is hid with Christ in God and that it is Christ who is doing the work through us, that is what frees the Holy Spirit to flow in greater power.
Knowing and abiding in our identity in Christ is the key. From there, the main thing is to make sure that our prayers are in line with the Word of God and with the teachings of Christ.
Q. You write in-depth about the power of God. Does accessing the power of God come easily to you, personally?
A. No, it does not come easily. Much of the time I see no evidence of God’s power in a situation for which I am praying, and that is very much a part of the Christian experience. We are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7) and it is during those times of apparent fruitlessness that the muscles of our faith are strengthened.
At times like those, it is in digging deep for answers in the Scriptures that the Word of God becomes implanted in us. At first, like a seed planted in the ground, nothing at all seems to be happening, but then we sense a little movement and then a tiny green shoot appears, life bursts forth, and we rejoice!
It is wonderful when that occurs. However, whatever happens, our main focus should always be on our relationship with Christ and our identification with His death and resurrection. Everything else flows from that, including God’s power.
Q. What do you want readers to take from your book?
A. In order of priority (it is a precept upon precept process):
A deeper understanding of the power and the majesty of God, leading to greater levels of worship and trust.A deeper understanding of his or her identity in Christ, and of the sacrificial lengths to which Jesus went in order to bring us into union with God.A greater awareness of the quantum field and its relationship to its creator, God.This is closely interlinked with the next point:The concept of oneness throughout the universe - both spiritual and physical.A greater awareness of how to release the healing and transforming power of God through prayer and meditation.A deeper understanding of the role of faith in connecting with, and releasing, the power of God.The understanding that the discoveries of modern (quantum) physics are vitally important for Christian faith and practice. An understanding of the fact that, although the subject has been addressed in academic and theological forums, it is ground-breaking news at the level of the general readership.
Q. Do Christians need to have a lot of faith to see the power of God in their lives?
A. We do need some faith in order to release God’s power. However, instead of thinking in terms of a lot or a little, the most important thing to know is that God has given to each of us His permanent gift of supernatural faith.
It took me many years to learn that faith has little, or nothing, to do with feelings. In fact, ‘feelings’ of strength—and of weakness—can be very deceiving.
I can think of occasions when I was ‘feeling’ weak and totally unprepared in the face of a difficult situation. I had no option but to stand (weakly, it seemed) upon the Word of God as best I could. Time and again, I discovered that the thing looming over me had been dealt with, supernaturally, in a way that I could never have accomplished in my own strength.
So, I would say that no, we don’t have to have a lot of faith to see the power of God working in our lives. But what we do need is a lot of willingness to submit to Christ, believe in His faith working within us, and to stand upon His Word, whatever our feelings may be telling us.
Q. Do you think it’s important for Christians to understand scripture at a deeper level?
A. The more we read and ponder Bible verses and passages, the more power and love we will see operating in our Christian life. That is because they are not just words written on a page; rather, they become living and powerful when mixed with faith. Jesus Himself said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).Through studying and meditating upon scriptures, we are taking into our minds and prayers God’s own communication with us.
You could say that the Word of God operates in our spiritual life in the same way that a seed operates in the natural world. A gardener sows the seed, waters and tends it until it produces growth and then a harvest. Likewise, if we sow scriptures into our minds and hearts, tend them by meditating on them, and then acting upon them, they will in due time begin to produce a harvest of love, of peace, of joy, of wisdom, of healing, of transformation, and of creativity.