Matthew 6:7-8 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
As a child I was told to talk to God like I would a friend. The problem is, unlike a good friend, God didn’t ever talk back.
I’d ask a question and get no answer. I’d tell Him the day’s problems and get no solutions. I’d make a request and get no help.
Prayer was a monologue. Dinner for one at a table set for two.
Doubt filled the silence and I began to wonder if I wasn’t actually speaking to God at all. If I was just talking to myself.
A few years ago this all changed for me. It began as an experiment: Ten minutes of silent listening each day.
First? “God, what do you want me to talk to you about right now?”
Then? I’d listen. And write down every relevant thought that entered my mind for ten minutes.
Irrelevant thoughts came first – trivial things I needed to do, a song stuck in my head, what I wanted to eat for breakfast…why are they called buffalo wings?
It was work – and still is – to let those thoughts skip through my mind and out of focus. But one then does the relevant come.
That meeting I’m anxious about. A friend’s marriage, a fear, a neighbor I haven’t spoken to in too long, just a name, my inability to be happy for that guy who’s having more success than I am right now, something my wife’s going through, a decision that needs rethinking, a sick co-worker…
All written down and prayed through only after the silence ends.
But before that happens, before the silence expires, more listening. With these concerns and questions scratched out, my mind is free to think about and listen to nothing but God – to hear from Him about Him – about us.
That’s where these Lent posts are coming from. That’s why they’re not published at the same time every day too. (God’s Spirit is like the wind – coming and going as the Spirit pleases. Capricious.)
Some days I don’t hear a thing and God feels a million miles away – though He never is. But that happens less and less as I continue to just show up, take my seat at the table, dump the contents of my mind onto paper and wait for Him to pull up a chair.
It all starts with listening. I do my part to tune my heart to the sound of His voice. Then I can hear His voice a bit better throughout the day. He speaks through creation (Romans 1:19-20) and through His Word and every person I meet, every conversation I overhear, ever circumstance, every pain, every song…a dialogue. The two of us at the table together.
God, clear my mind of everything but You. Fill the space with Your thoughts and Your will. I’m listening and watching for You today.