Thursday, September 22, 2011

Listening for the voice of God

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with one of my Juniors about theology. I always love these chats--this kid read through Augustine's Confessions in his spare time, so he asks questions and makes statements that are profound and insightful. It's always fun to leave a conversation with a student feeling as though I've learned something new, or at least am thinking through new questions. The question that last night's conversation left with me was "what is it like to hear God's voice?"

God speaks to us, moves us, answers prayers. I have a tough time just listening, though. Prayer tends to be mostly me talking... otherwise, I keep myself busy. Rarely do I simply remove distractions and listen. Prayer should be a conversation with God, and we all know how tough it is to talk to someone who monopolizes a conversation. What does it mean for me to listen for God's voice?

It means not treating my devotional time as something to get through, something that has a time limit, but rather as a time to meditate and dive into God's word. Listening may involve silence, but it is by no means passive--as any good English teacher knows, listening must be active and intentional. The listener must put themselves into good conditions for listening, assume posture that will help them listen, hang onto every word and not worry about what to say next.

I'm going to try to listen more because I tend to take on Homer Simpson's attitude toward prayer much of the time (in one episode, Homer prays that everything in his life will stay exactly as it is, and if that's God's will, for God to give Homer absolutely no sign at all. "Thy will be done", Homer says, after a few moments of silence). I need to spend time in silence listening and reflecting on God's will for my life, rather than assuming that what I pray must be God's will, as Homer did.

I have a tough time with silence... but I find that the older I get, the less it bothers me, or at least, the more I'm able to push myself to let silence remain uninterrupted. I wonder what I'll hear.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your thoughts, Nate. I completely understand the difficulty of listening in silence. My thoughts are too easily filled and distracted by what else I need to accomplish. Prayer truly takes discipline. My Pake always woke up at 4:30 a.m. and spent a couple of hours in prayer. That's the kind of example that blows me away, humbles me, and inspires me.