You probably already are intentional about investing in quiet time with God. Or you want to be. For me, quiet time is a work in progress. I have stretches of daily devotions, then interruptions and hiccups and reboots. Thankfully there are lots of resources focusing on devotional quiet time and how to build the habit.
But shhhhh... That's not where I'm going today. Today I want to talk about another angle of our quiet time. It's the amount of time we still the voices in our heads and the words flowing off the page and into our brains. It's about creating an earthly quiet so we can hear our heavenly Father.
When was the last time you heard the God's whisperings? Felt the Spirit's nudges? When was the last time you even heard the silence of a quiet moment?
We can fill our quiet time with God with study and reading and praying and possibly even memorizing. But we limit our ability to grow in God if we don't leave space to wait and hear from him.
So today, let's practice the art of listening. It will probably feel weird, just sitting in the quiet, waiting for God's voice. I don't know about you, but I don't hear God's voice in a clear and booming way. It's usually a subtle and repeated thing (because I'm kind of slow in the area of discerning God's will). And so quiet listening can be rather unsatisfying. But with practice, we can move past that.
First we pray.
Lord, so often I fill my prayers my words. Help me to patiently listen for yours. You know the issues that concern me, the ones where I need your guidance and wisdom. I know the promises that you have made me. Show me where and how I can be your eyes, your words, your hands and feet in this corner of the world, in this time. As I connect with you today, I offer up all that I am to glorify you. Help me to be still, to wait patiently, to listen carefully, and to hear clearly your plan for me in this day and the days to come.
"Prayer is not a way of making use of God; prayer is a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest, we wait in silence for God's voice to us." — William Barclay
Then we read.I love this translation from the New American Standard Bible:
"For I know the plans that I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Our heavenly Father has specific plans for us. God does not want to see us adrift and struggling. He wants us to come along side him and discuss the roadmap he has planned out for us. It's the roadmap that will lead us to living fully in his love.
God has a plan for our welfare, our well-being. He is looking out for us and protecting us. He is guiding us away from calamity. What a great word for our stressful seasons. God steers us away from damage, disaster, distress. He steers us towards a brighter, lighter future and a hope so powerful it can only be found in him.
Thank you, God, for your plans. Help us to look for them, listen for them, and discern them from the din of our distractions.
Then we sit in quiet.Thoughts will wander in. Recognize and release them, even write them down if that helps to let them go. Wait for words, phrases, or images that feel God-breathed. They might not come while you are sitting in quiet. They might bump into you later in the day. They might speak to you in church later in the week. But know that God wants to talk to you, and he will.
I pray that your time of stillness and quiet listening brings you peace and discernment. May you sense God's presence and guidance in your day.
Inspired to revisit your listening practices?
Read more about listening to God.
Here's a great TEDtalk about ways to fine tune your listening skills.