December 14, 2017

Ecstatic Prayer; Drawing closer to God through the power of intense prayer

     There are all kinds of prayer.  Prayers can be said through music, whether sung or expressed emotionally through an instrumental.  You can pray silently, just a little private conversation with you and God.  Prayer can be shouted out from the mountaintops.  Sometimes, we don't even have the words and the Holy Spirit prays through us.  There are even times when our prayer is a quick thought directed up to God, a silent plea in a time of impending disaster.  A blog post could be dedicated just to the different ways to pray, and would still not likely cover all of them.

     This post focuses on ecstatic prayer, which can take almost any form, including most of those listed above.  Ecstatic prayer is not the only way to pray, but it is something which everyone should seek out.  I don't want you to think that you have failed in any way if it takes you decades to get it, and you'll lose it quickly if you become boastful if it hits you hard and fast the first few times you try it.  It will happen when it's meant to happen for you, when things are right in your life, and when you have the proper outlook, charity, and humility.  That said, it is something which should always be sought.

    A simple definition of ecstatic prayer is that prayer which one feels the Presence of God.  It's more of a two way conversation than a plea directed out to the air.  That's not saying you'll necessarily hear a booming voice, or even a still small voice like Elijah. (1)  What you can expect is an experience which is unique to you, but which you will know that the Divine was listening to you.

     While this post focuses on ecstatic prayer in a Christian context, it is absolutely not unique to Christianity.  Hasidic Judaism calls it "Davening" (pronounced "dah-veh-ning" and sometimes spelled with two "v's.") (2) Sufi's refer to it as "audition" or "sama."  (3)  Hinduism has many practices which seek what they would call union with the Divine Ground, such as mantra chanting or the Transcendental Meditation methods taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. (4)  It is pervasive through most religions, and it is abundantly present in Christianity. 

     Many people who experience this type of prayer will hear or feel answers come to them, or they'll get their answers through dreams they have when they next sleep.  However, not everyone achieves that level of connection when praying, and even those who do have that kind of connection don't usually have it every single time.  Sometimes a person is given only one such perfect moment of prayer in a lifetime.  The goal is communion with God, which sometimes involves a two way conversation, and sometimes it's just your prayers and cries with the knowledge and feeling of God's Holy Presence.

     While in some religions drugs, plants, extreme fasting, flagellation, self torture, and other methods are used to achieve this state, it is not my belief that such extreme measures are necessary.  We will not be exploring drugs or torture in this post, and will instead focus on a more meditative method.

Why should I seek ecstatic prayer and union with God?

     Most of you probably think the answer to this question is obvious, and you can skip to the next section if you'd like.  However, some of you might say, "Hey, God will hear my prayers whether they're ecstatic or not, so why would I bother?"  This small section is for the latter group of people.

     Put simply, the best reason to seek ecstatic prayer experiences is because it is one of the best ways to strengthen your walk with God.  The ecstatic experience is to draw closer to the Presence of God, and to develop a more personal relationship with Him.  Your walk becomes less one about vague faith, and more about knowing; experiencing God and knowing for yourself that He really is there with you.

     Lest you make the mistakes of Simon Magus, and think the gifts of God are just a power to be exploited, or even purchased, you should not go into it seeking the Gifts of the Holy Spirit for show and ego. (5)  That said, it is good to seek these gifts for yourself because God wants to give them to us freely to help us, and others around us, in our walk with Him. (6)  It is through ecstatic prayer that these Gifts of the Holy Spirit are most easily manifested within you.

     Ecstatic prayer is the heart of Jewish or Christian mysticism, or indeed the mysticism of any religion.  All of the mystics have had ecstatic prayer experiences of some kind or another.   If you want to plumb the depths of God and the universe, of creation and angels, of the fabric of everything; there is perhaps no better way to begin to delve into these mysteries than through ecstatic prayer. 

How to do it


     While the goal is to be able to achieve some level of ecstatic prayer, some level of connection to God, in just about any situation, to have the purest and deepest experience, a certain level of preparation is necessary.  It is helpful to have the right frame of mind and setting, especially the first several times you attempt ecstatic prayer.  Keep in mind, you don't have to do any of these things to have an ecstatic prayer experience, but these steps certainly help.

    You should be freshly showered, hair dried and combed, but not put up tightly.  Being clean is more relaxing.  I know I feel in better spirits after a good shower.

     Next, prepare your space.  A quiet church is often the best place for this experience, but anywhere you can be free from distractions will work.  Have any icons, crosses, statues, or whatever helps you focus on God (simpler is better) in front of you.

     Drink water, and make sure you urinate before you start.  A clean inside will help you be in a purer state, more ready to meet the Divine.  You also do not want to be dehydrated, as your thirst would be a distraction.  Your only thirst should be for the Holy Spirit and the Water of Life.

     Similarly, you should not go into your prayer meditation when you are hungry, but neither should you go into it bloated with food.  Eat sensibly, a small amount, so that you will not suffer from hunger pangs; unless, you've trained yourself to better reach an ecstatic state with minor fasting (skipping a single meal.)  Some people prefer more intense fasting, as mentioned earlier, but such is not the focus of this post.  I will only say that you should seek competent medical advice before undergoing any kind of fast, and I don't believe fasting is the only way to reach the ecstatic state.

     If you have a tallit cloth, a Jewish prayer shawl, it is useful to pull it up over your head, so that your gaze is focused on one object.  Jewish people often refer to this as going into one's, "prayer closet."  Many people believe it is what Yeshua meant when he said that we should go into our closet and pray privately. (7)  Of course, you can pray with your eyes closed if it is easier for you, but I still like to be wrapped in the tallit when I pray; it's a connection to Yeshua, the Apostles, and all of the Prophets, who all wore the tallit.

     Praying alone or with a small group 

       Decide what language or languages in which you'll be praying.  Some people find that praying in your native language is perfect, as you understand what you are saying.  Understanding the depths of what you're saying is important to some people.  However, sometimes people find that praying in another language, particularly Hebrew or Latin, is most powerful to them.  Of course, in some ecstatic prayer experiences, the Holy Spirit takes over and one prays in the tongues of angels; so, ultimately, the choice of what language in which you'll pray may not be entirely up to you! (6) 

     Music is sometimes helpful, particularly hymns of praise, and an ecstatic prayer journey should always involve scripture reading.  If you can't sing, you can listen to recorded music.  As for scriptures, you should read at least one of the Psalms, a passage from the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament, I particularly recommend the "shema" in Deuteronomy 6,) and something from the Gospels (The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6 is excellent, but any words of Yeshua are powerful.)  You might also read from one of the Epistles of the Apostles, or from Revelations.  The reason I include scripture readings along with singing, is because you might even wish to combine the two and sing scripture!  Many of our scriptures, especially the Psalms of course, were likely sung long before they were ever written down, and there is a special power to singing scripture.  Whatever your music choices, just make sure it won't distract you from your focus on God.

     You may choose to take a cue from the Dervishes (Sufi) and dance while you pray, but you might be surprised to know that prayerful dancing has long been a part of Jewish religious practice as well!  We're not talking about doing the Hustle or the Cabbage Patch (I know, I need more modern references) but just letting your body go and letting the spirit guide your dance.  Of course, make sure you are in a safe place to dance ecstatically without hurting yourself or someone else.  In lieu of dancing, you can try rocking in place, or gently rotating your hips and torso where you sit or stand.

     In the same vein as singing and dancing is, of course, musical instruments. (8) Some people find instruments distracting to the experience, while others find they help keep the mind from wandering and help set the mood.  Drums, a kinnor like King David played or other kind of harp or lyre, organ, piano, acoustic guitar, or whatever instrument you find soothing and spiritual.  Again, sometimes silence is best, but find what will work best for you in that moment.

     Regardless of all the peripherals discussed above, none of it will matter unless your prayer is done right.  You must remain focused on your prayer.  Your prayer should include genuine praise and thanks to God for all that is good, as well as your intercessions for others.  Of course, intercessions for yourself can also be a part of an ecstatic prayer experience.  Remember to ask for Wisdom, as it's God's favorite request. (9,10)  Above all, ask for the Holy Spirit to come and fill you.  It may seem obvious, but it's easy to overlook simply asking God to send His Holy Spirit to fill you at that moment.

     Prayer in Church during services

     You might be tempted to think that a church service is the worst place to have an ecstatic experience with God, but it is actually one of the best places and times to have such an experience.  The sheer energy of everyone singing and praising God, and enjoying the readings from and expounding upon scripture, and the power of holy communion all add to your experience.

     The main thing you need to watch out for is to not be distracted by other people.  Don't chit chat or gossip.  Don't worry about what anyone else is wearing, or how they approach the communion line.  Other people are not your enemy, indeed it is having others praying and praising with you which particularly heightens a church experience; however, focusing on them instead of on yourself and God will take you away from your experience.

     Praying by yourself, or with a small group, before service is particularly helpful.  Free and open, not scripted, prayer can be a big part of that preparation, but most people find that reciting the prayer Yeshua taught us, lovingly called the "Our Father" or "Pater Noster," (11) or another scripted prayer, such as the Rosary, (12) is particularly a good way to begin the experience.

     Find something on which to focus.  While Jews may focus on the Torah scroll (2) Christians whose churches don't have Torah scrolls, some Christian churches do, may focus on a cross or crucifix in their sanctuary.  For Catholics, it is especially appropriate to focus on the Tabernacle which houses the Holy Eucharist; as we believe that it contains the real Presence of our Lord.  The idea is, just as when praying alone or in a small group, to find one object on which to focus your attention during the service, and one which will make you think of God.  Of course, don't become so focused on the object that it replaces your focus on God, or your ability to know what's going on during the service.


     A single ecstatic prayer experience is a treasure and gift from God, and developing an ecstatic prayer life is nourishment for the soul, direct from the Holy Spirit of God.  As you work towards developing these ecstatic experiences, you will find that you can feel that connection to God in more and more situations.  Eventually, the goal is to feel the Presence of God always, in all situations.

     This post did not cover the phenomenon called, "The Dark Night of the Soul."  Such a state is where you cannot feel the Presence of God no matter what you do, and your faith alone must carry one through such times.  I do not claim to know why they happen, sometimes to some of the seemingly holiest people.  I only know that if you persevere, God will show Himself to you again.

     The final words I want to leave you with are the most important:  In order to have the purest ecstatic prayer experience and truly know the Presence of God, you have to strive to walk rightly.  God abhors sin.  You do not have to be perfect, for you are perfected through the Blood of Christ. (13) However, the closer you follow the teachings of Yeshua, His beloved Son and our Messiah (Jesus Christ,) the closer you will be able to draw to the Father, and the Holy Trinity.  Be charitable, kind, forgiving, loving, prayerful, thoughtful, and seek God in all things.  Eventually, you'll even feel the Presence when you're washing the dishes or cooking, and you'll be amazed at when your gifts are used.
Baruch Haba B'shem Adonai!


References and further reading

1 1 Kings 19:11-13

3  (for further reading about Transcendental Meditation.  I did not quote from this page.)

5 Acts 8:9-24

Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 7-11 Romans 8:26

7 Matthew 6:5-6

8 Psalm 150 as one of many examples

9 1 Kings 3:3-14

10 James 1:5,6

11 Matthew 6:9-13

12  (for reference on the Rosary.  Page not quoted.)

13 Hebrews 9:11-13


November 9, 2017

Reader Questions 1: Why does God care who we say He is? Why do children die?

Blessings friends,

   In this blog post I will address a couple of questions I received from friends and blog followers.  If you have spiritual questions you would like answered in a blog post, contact me at  Make the subject line of the e-mail "blog questions," and let me know if it's alright to use your first name.  You may also post your questions to my Facebook page at  

  I'm leaving names out of this first reader questions post, as I did not ask for permission to use names. 

Question 1:  Why does God care who we say he is?  Does he need job references or something?
     Follow-up question (by another person building off of the first, as this was asked via Facebook.)  If God is infinite, why does he care about names?

     The simplest answer to the first question is that God doesn't "need" us to call him anything or say anything about him, except that he greatly desires us to grow.  Knowing God is how we grow.  So, it's not so much that God needs us to, it's that God wants us to because we need to.
     However, the follow-up question, while like the first, opens a different door.  Why does God care about names?
     Cultures throughout the world have believed in the power of knowing a spirit's true name, and exponentially so for Divine names.  Egyptians have countless stories about people learning the true name of a god, such as one where a sorceress learns the true name of Re (the sun god) and ultimately forces him to turn her into a goddess equal to him. (1)  Even some Christian exorcism rites involve learning the demon's true name in order to banish it. (2)
     Christianity originates from Judaism, and in Judaism the Name of God, which is represented by the tetragrammaton is particularly powerful.  It is the Name meant when the commandment says to not take the Lord's name in vain!  It doesn't mean the word "God" nor even the word "Lord."  Those are titles.  His name is represented by the tetragrammaton YHVH (commonly rendered Yahweh or Jehovah in English.) Our modern Bibles actually do us a disservice by removing the Holy Name and replacing it with Adonai (Lord.)  In the original manuscripts, the Name was used for a reason.  Baruch Ha'Shem YHVH. (Blessed is The Name YHVH.) 
     In modern Judaism, and actually for a few thousand years now, Ha'Shem, the name, was/is almost never spoken.  It was used once a year by the High Priest during the Temple periods, and I don't know if it is ever spoken these days.  I do know that the tefillin and mezuzah (scrolls with the Sh'mah blessing) use the actual name of God, but if we say the passage (from Deuteronomy 6:4) out loud we say "Lord" in place of YHVH.  "Hear oh Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one." is how it begins as we say it, but it was written differently; more like, "Hear oh Israel, Yahweh our God, Yahweh is one. (3)
    Then we have the curious case of Abram/Abraham; the patriarch of Israel.  He called God by many different names. (4) The two prevailing theories as to why he used different names are as follows.
     Some believe that Abraham used different names because he was praying to different gods (or Gods, if you prefer.)  They point out Melchizedek who was a priest of El Elyon (God Most High,) and to whom Abraham offered a tithe.(5)  Mel wasn't of Abram's people, but was actually a foreign king.  In addition, they point out how the offerings made in different places to different names of God are very different in nature. The proponents of this theory say that it proves that Abraham was making offerings to different gods/Gods, and that's why different names were used.  They also have on their side that some of these names were also used by other cultures in the region for their gods.
     The other theory, and the one more important to this question, is that Abraham was using different names for God, because each of those names evoked different Divine qualities.  The offerings were different, because they were asking for different blessings.  Melchizedek, they say, was a High Priest of God before most of the world turned away from God, as Abraham was only a few generations after the Flood. 
     There are flaws in both theories, but the point is that different names for the Divine can evoke different qualities.  Similar to the example of Abraham I could digress and talk about Hinduism, and how each of their gods are actually just aspects of Brahman, but for the sake of time and clarity, I'll leave it as it is.
     To summarize, and draw the two answers together, I don't think God cares which name you call God, so long as you draw closer to God.  That said, it is beneficial to learn the traditional names for God, because there is power in them.  The very fact that others revere those names gives them another kind of power as well.   I also don't think God is limited to "Him" or "Her," but that's another blog post.

Question 2: Why do children die?  What is the reason for a 17 year old to die forever in this life?
   Follow-up question, from me (because it's relevant to the question and to things happening in society right now.)  How can God let so many people be murdered in a church, including a pastor and another pastor's young daughter?

     To a grieving mother, father, sibling, aunt or even close friend, there is no good answer to the first question.  Death is one of the hardest things to face in this life, and it's harder when it's someone close to us.  For some people, it's even harder when it's a young person who seemed to have their whole lives ahead of them. 
     The only real answer is that we are mortal, and no one is guaranteed an amount of time.  Now, I don't buy that "God called them home" line which is used so often to comfort the bereaved.  God didn't make the person die, except perhaps in a very few, extremely rare instances which get recorded in scripture.  We tend to put blame on God for everything which happens, but God's job isn't to micromanage our lives.
     That doesn't mean God isn't involved in our lives, as He very much is.  He works for our good in all things. (1)  However, God doesn't always protect us from the experiences of life, and sometimes things go wrong. (2) Whether it's illness, genetic, or human activity which ends another person's life, there are only rare circumstances where God intervenes to stop it.  Most often, God nudges other humans to help, or tries to nudge the person out of danger, but it's up to us to listen and up to other humans to intervene.  Then, of course, sometimes the death is inevitable, and God weeps with us. 
     This world is fallen and full of evil and hardship, and many religions, especially Christianity and some forms of Judaism, talk about the next world.  In the next world, there is no pain and suffering, only the peace and joy. (3) Whether you think of it in terms of Heaven, the Elysian fields, the Summerlands, Nirvana, or any of the myriad other ideas on the afterlife, the core idea is the same. 
     Of course, the follow-up question is already answered in the answering of the first; that is, evil happens in this world and God doesn't always stop it.  What we can be assured of is that angels were there to protect as many as possible, and bring the rest home with love.  Could God have stopped the church shooting? (4) Sure, God can do anything.  He probably did try to nudge several people to put a stop to it, and we don't know who tried and didn't.  Ultimately, God most often works through other people.
     My dad used to say, in more colorful language, "life is full of feces because feces makes good fertilizer and makes things grow."  It's probably the best answer I've ever heard as to why God allows any hardship for us, but I understand that the answer isn't always great comfort. 
     We don't always understand why God doesn't stop all of the evil and hardship in the world, and even infants die.  What we do know is that God takes any evil which happens and makes good from it, even when we can't see how any good can come from it, so long as we stay close to God. 
I hope these answers helped, and I look forward to your future questions.

  References below.  Sorry, they don't link by clicking the numbers above.

References for Question 1

1 (note this page spells "Re" as "Ra," which is more common but considered less accurate.)
3  (start at verse 4, read right to left, as Hebrew is written reverse from English.)
4 (look at verse 33.  Note, this interlinear version replaces every instance of "Lord," in Hebrew "Adonai," with "Yahweh."  It is not agreed among scholars whether this is always correct, especially before the time of Moses, to whom that Name was given.) 
5 (verses 17-20)

References for Question 2

1 (see verses 26-30, esp vs 28)
2  (especially chapter 1 verses 1-8, but the whole book is a good read.)
3 (verses 1-8)

4 (many other relevant stories linked with this story as well.)  

September 22, 2017

Do Animals Love?

   It is all too common to think of animals as "dumb" and incapable of emotions, such as love.  Many people will tell you that animals only imitate love to get their needs filled; ie, "your cat only pretends to love you because you feed it."  My experience with animals says the exact opposite; that is, animals are capable of simple love.   My contention is that if we believe that God is defined by Love, then we have to believe that love is pervasive throughout all of God's creation. 

   I'll start with the example of Annie, a cat who belonged to a wonderful neighbor of ours.  Annie was an old cat, and she absolutely adored her human.  She had been abused by her previous humans, and didn't trust men much, but she had an immense amount of love to share. 
   Tragedy struck when Annie's human mommy died.  It was just the two of them, mommy and kitty, in the apartment, and Annie was alone.  Fortunately, her human mommy's human daughter took her in and took incredibly good care of her.
   Annie was well fed, well groomed, and doted on by the women where she went to live, but none of that mattered to her; she wanted her human mommy back.  She would run across town, despite her old, arthritic bones, just to sit on our doorstep and wait for her human to get home.  She never understood why her mommy didn't come back.  Annie truly did love her human, and I'm sure the two of them are happy together in the afterlife.

   Let's deal with an issue which makes people say, "no, animals don't love at all;" the issue of animals eating their young.  Some species of animal do actually sometimes eat their young, and some more often than others. However, to dismiss all animals as incapable of loving because of this heinous action would be to ignore the fact that many human women, sadly, murder their own babies.       I'm not referring to abortion, that's a topic about which you're unlikely to see me blog, but babies after their born being thrown in trash cans, drowned it toilets, children driven off of cliffs by their mothers, and many more inexplicable, heinous actions.  It doesn't mean human women are incapable of love, not even those who are led to commit such a horrendous deed.  This post isn't about the psychology of infanticide by mother, so that's all on that depressing topic.

   Let's take a look at happier examples of humans and animals living together, particularly cats and dogs.  Our animals are genuinely excited to see us, and it's definitely not just about food and treats.  They don't necessarily get food or treats every time they see us, and I know my own animals will even ignore treats given them just to come sit on my lap and get attention.
   Cats and dogs are social animals who form close groups.  They want to snuggle with their human pack/pride members when we sleep.  I know my cat wants to snuggle even when it's blazing hot, even though he eventually gives up and lays elsewhere on my bed.  Yes, to some extent it's about safety in numbers, but it's also very clearly about affection for a close member of his family; his caregiver.  He wants to spend every waking and sleeping moment he can with me.  I know it's that way with many pet owners, and it's not just limited to those of the canine or feline varieties.
   Cats and dogs also seem to instinctively know when we are well or not, and want to help us.  Dogs are well known for wanting to, and often succeeding at, helping their humans.  I've heard many stories of animals taking extra care to give extra attention and love for people who are sick.
   I'll use another personal example of my former cat, Mihos; named for the Egyptian lion god.  I used to have terrible seizures, which are thankfully much more under control now, which would leave me helpless in the "post-ictal" (after seizure) period.  Mihos would sit right next to me until I could get up, and if my roommate was home Mihos would pound and scratch on the roommate's door until he came to help.
   Another pack love example comes specifically with dogs and pregnant women.  If a member of the household is pregnant, anyone who acts threatening towards her better pray hard and run harder if the family dog sees it going down!  Yes, it is canine instinct to protect the next generation, cats have been known to stand up for small children too, chasing off dogs or even strangers who were threatening their littler humans.  However, it goes beyond instinct, to "that's my family, and you don't hurt my family," which is a major expression of love.
    One last pack example is the love between pets in the same household, and I'll use the example of my mom's old Siamese cat and our dog.  The cat knew the dog since he was a puppy, and he was almost like her own baby.  She was an old lady even when he was young, and had a couple generations of kittens she had birthed and mothered, even grandmothered.
   After the puppy grew up, he lived primarily in an outside yard during nice weather, and other dogs would come up to his fence to try to pick fights.  One day, a rottweiler came up and was getting really vicious in his barking and attempts to bite my dog through the fence.  We ran out, as usual, to stop the incident, but before we could get there the Siamese cat flew out the door and jumped up into the rottweiler's face!  A few whips with her claws, and that dog ran off crying.  That cat was not going to stand for someone messing with her puppy!

   Now, one main contention is that people say love is a choice and animals can't choose to love, but I think that misunderstands the nature of love. Perhaps one can say that animals don't love in the same way that humans love, but they absolutely do have an abundance of love.  Perhaps there are even some species of animals which don't feel love in any way we'd recognize as such, or maybe even devoid of emotions altogether.  I certainly think at least mammals, and many other animals experience love.
   Perhaps humans just over-complicate love, just as we do with other things, and to animals it's simpler.  Perhaps in some ways we even do understand love better than they do, but I think we could still learn a lot about love even through just understanding the simplicity of their love.




April 18, 2017

Angels Are Not Perfect

There seems to be an incredibly common misconception, even among great religious scholars, that angels are somehow perfect beings.  However, only God is perfect.  Angels may come close, and are perfected in the Presence of God, but are not perfect in and of themselves.

Angelic sins are not entirely like human sins, but there are similarities.  Angels can be wrathful; extremely wrathful.  Generally they won't act without God's blessing, and they almost never act against the Will of God (the consequences are dire, and we'll get to that later.)  Angels can be impatient and unforgiving.(1)  Angels can be lustful. (2)  Angels can be jealous.  The biggest temptation for an angel, however, is ego; just look at the fall of Lucifer.

However, there are sins which angels cannot commit.  It is nearly impossible, perhaps entirely impossible, for a Holy Angel (not a fallen angel) to lie.  In fact, even fallen angels often have to use trickery instead of outright lies, and cannot lie about their name.  It is just entirely against angelic form and function to lie, as it is so opposed to God.  Any angel can mislead someone, but outright lying is nearly impossible.  Likewise, it is a dire thing for an angel to kill any living thing except by the direct Will and Power of God.

The Presence of God is the purifier of all.  No soul or angel can be imperfect in the Direct Presence of God.  The closer an angel gets to God, the more it is perfected.  If an angel sins too gravely, coming into the Presence of God physically hurts, but it is a cathartic pain; they are released from the burden which "sin" puts on their being.

See, angels don't exactly "sin" for the most part.  Their misdeeds are not weighed like human misdeeds, and instead have a more direct effect on them.  They can be tempted, but falling into temptation causes them discomfort and weakness; nonetheless, it happens.  Humans are actually affected similarly, but the consequences aren't as apparent in physical form and are measured differently; perhaps the topic of a different blog post.  I digress.  When an angel is drawn into the Presence of God, it is purified, strengthened, and renewed.

Certain angels are always in the Direct Presence of God.  Among them are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, but there are others as well. (3) While these angels do act on the Earth, they are never out of the Presence of the Divine.  It would be complicated to explain the ethereal physics of the arrangement, but simply put; God is always close by when they are around.  It is in their nature to always be with God, and to always act according to the Divine Will.  Because of their link to the Divine Presence, they are also the most powerful among the angels.

If angels were perfect beings at all times, the two most famous angelic blunders of the Bible would be impossible to happen.  The first, of course, being the fall of Lucifer, who took a full third of the host of Heaven with him.  Get that, 1/3+1 angels rebelled against God!  It was the ultimate act of defiance, and it merited them the ultimate punishment which can be meted out upon an angel; to be eternally removed from the Presence of God, and eternally tormented.  The fires of Hell are almost a mercy compared to the pain of being removed from the Presence of God and being weighed down with ultimate sin!  No wonder demons are so awful to humans, the ones God loves so much.  The second is an obscure reference in the Book of Genesis, at the beginning of chapter 6, which is expounded upon by religious philosophers and in the Book of Enoch.  This is the case where "Sons of God," in Hebrew, "Bene Elohim," literally, "sons of the gods/God" which most scholars and the Book of Enoch interpret as being angels, saw the "daughters of men" (human women) and made children with them.  These angels, though their crime wasn't to the equivalent of the original fallen angels, were punished extremely harshly; however, the punishment described in the Book of Enoch isn't entirely accurate, because it wasn't intended to be.

These are the only stories we have in reliable texts.  Some obscure texts, such as the Gospel of Judas, refer to other stories of angels which fell away from God, but their versions of the story are either not accurate enough or too obscure in details for most students to glean much from them.  Therefore, I'm not going to reference any one of those texts specifically, rather, I'll tell you an old story which many obscure texts touch on just a little bit, a story about certain angels who came really close to falling.

When the Earth was created, and long before humans existed, certain angels were sent to the Earth to watch over and guide creation.  Some of them even dwelt within nature, being like spirits of mountains, volcanoes, forests, deserts, waters, and clouds and storms.  It was a great and honorable task, but because they were not Angels of the Presence, and because they were integrated into creation, it meant being almost the farthest an angel can be from the Direct Presence of God, at the outskirts of God's Being.

At first, it wasn't too bad; there were temptations, but most temptations were easily scoffed at and didn't lead to any misdeeds.  However, when the result of the War in Heaven was that Lucifer and the other fallen angels were cast to Earth, the fallen ones began to tempt them gravely. They were tempted to all kinds of destruction, and belief in their own power as forces of Nature.

Temptation of these angels grew as intelligent beings were formed on the Earth, as God allowed primitive sentient beings of every creation on the Earth to think of these angels as Divine; it was a primitive understanding and relationship with God, a starting place.  Unfortunately, the fallen ones were able to twist the minds of some of those angels into believing that they were actually gods; maybe, not equal to God, but certainly gods in their own rights!  They were, after all, among the most powerful forces on the planets.

Some of these angels were also born into human bodies to human women by human fathers, according to the Will of God.  They usually did not know of their angelic nature, though most suspected it, and they would live many lifetimes as human beings.  They were given an innate wisdom which most people misunderstood, and were always fascinated with things of the spirit world and the Divine.  Thus, they could learn, like humans but with an innate insight which surpasses human understanding, and they could teach and guide.  Being angelic souls, they have an immense capacity for love, and a strong sense of justice.  Most of them are warriors of one kind or another, as well as scholars and priests.

The angels who became full of their own ego and likened themselves as gods met various fates.  Some were numbered among the fallen angels, and will suffer that most sad fate of Lucifer and his army.  Others were recalled to Heaven, where they underwent a most painful and wonderful cleansing.  Still others fell in between, they had sinned gravely enough to not be able to stand the Direct Presence of God, but not enough to warrant being cast aside; therefore, they were allowed to incarnate among the others who already were doing so.  They renew their souls slowly through their unwavering service to God.   A few, and only a few, were allowed to remain at their posts, and an Archangel was appointed to bring them nourishment from God to keep them strong.

Unfortunately for those who are born among humans, they feel most out of place.  They somehow know they're not like other humans, but they don't know what they are.  They make up all kinds of stories about their origins, and play on the mythologies of many cultures to explain themselves.  They need nourishment from the Presence of God, but they can only find some through spiritual practice, shamanic practice, temples, and religious adherence.

The greatest bonanza for these incarnated angels was the Eucharist.  See, Yeshua, the one called Christ, came as the Son of God to renew humanity and to save it from damnation.  He brought love for all humans, and the angels who were born among humans did not get left out.  When Yeshua instituted the Eucharist, it was primarily for humans, but it was also for these angels.  The Eucharist, unlike any other ritual, contains the Divine Presence, and humans take God into themselves when it is consumed.  Therefore, the more these angels consume the Eucharist, especially those who have damage from sin to undo, the more they feel the Presence of God; thus, the more they are healed, renewed, and strengthened.

The irony is that the most powerful form of the Eucharist can be found in the Catholic and Eastern churches, even though these angels would be branded heretics by either or both churches if they ever knew enough of themselves to reveal their nature.  Of course, most or all other sources of the Eucharist also come from human churches which would misunderstand these beings, and either worship or revile them; either way leading to the doom of those people.  In addition to consuming the Eucharist, preferably under both species (bread and wine) such beings also find healing and strength through Eucharistic adoration, reading the scriptures, and other religious activity.   Of course, some inevitably are born in Hindu, Islamic, or other cultures and must find the Divine Presence through those paths, but they are more difficult paths for such beings as they do not contain the gift of the Eucharist.

If you think you are one of these angelic beings, incarnated, the best advice I can give you is: live life full of love, forgiveness, and compassion; serve God in every way you can and strive to never harm anyone; participate in the Eucharist as often as possible, but only if you have the right according to the rules of that church; and don't tell anyone what you are, or what you think you are, unless you are absolutely sure they will both understand and not feed your ego because of it.  The greatest danger to an angelic being is ego.  Human, angel, or otherwise, we are all servants of God, and it is through that service from which comes all power, strength, renewal, and hope.  

How much of the above story is true, and how much is allegory or parable to teach a lesson?  I would say that at least most of it is true, but it is up to those granted the Wisdom of God (4) to discern.  

***  Note on Wisdom texts such as the Book of Enoch, referenced here.  These books are not intended to be taken literally, just like much of the Bible itself.  They contain secrets which those with Wisdom from God can glean about the nature of angels, humans, God, life, and Heaven.  Many of them also contain magic, but the magic is a result of the practice, not really a goal of the practice.  That is, you don't gain the magic by seeking the magic, you gain it by earnestly seeking the Wisdom and Knowledge hidden within.

(1) Exodus 23:20-21
(2) Genesis 6:1-2, Enoch 4:1-4
(3) Enoch 20
(4) James 1:5-8

*Vague references in this document allude to stories found in the Koran, the Gospel of Judas, and other texts, but not to an extent warranting citation.