Not the answer I expected, but unmistakeably clear. Seeking a deeper knowledge of God, my request received not more revelation, but an invitation to listen. My thoughts included a desire for more understanding; more seeing: but my answer involved the deep listening of stillness.
Choosing a theme for not only a new month, but a new season, God impressed a topic upon my heart which at first seemed unusual.
But an initial exploration of deep listening, revealed a perfect partnership with autumn’s casual transition to stillness, after summer’s adventures. For to truly listen, we must first still all which seeks to lure us into activity and reactivity.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
do you listen to god’s word?
Most of us read God’s Word daily, and many hear God’s Word weekly, if not through various mediums; but do you listen to God’s Word?
Do you invite the meaningful connection Jesus offers in Revelation 3:20?
An invitation to listen offers more than the flashlight method of hearing. Sadly, we often approach God’s Word much like we approach any conversation; simply looking for information.
Tending towards the gleaning of information, our hearing busily shines a flashlight on conversations looking for information we need, want, or intend to expose.
Taught from an early age to “pay attention” we mistakenly equate listening with the gathering of necessary information.
At times, my approach to God’s Word and prayer becomes nothing more than an attempt at paying attention for useful information, answers I want, or nailing down a better understanding of a particular passage.
An invitation to Relationship
Far from implying any error in approaching God’s Word from a perspective of gaining knowledge and understanding; I simply question the lasting benefit of informational focused hearing.
Whenever I notice a dry spell in my daily devotions, or feel especially distant from God, most often the cause rests with an informational focus compared to a relational focus of deep listening and engagement.
Accepting God’s invitation to listen means I go beyond the search for information to a place of relationship, where I listen to know and be known.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.John 10:27
an invitation to listen
One of my favorite ways of shifting into a deep listening mode is using the Lectio Divina. I find the process one of the best ways for renewing a stale Quiet Time with God.
My regular readers know I wrote in detail about my process for the Lectio Divina in my post, “4 Steps to a Renewed Quiet Time”. Today I provide a highlight of that practice along with a brief method for deep listening with scripture.
Even if you find your current Quiet Time and scripture reading delightful and fulfilling, employing the Lectio Divina methods below can help you move beyond informational hearing to deep listening and engagement with God.
Basic Lectio Divina
- Lectio-Read. From your daily reading choose one passage to read once, as you normally do, Then prayerfully read a second time looking for a word or phrase which stands out to you.
- Meditatio-Reflect. Read the passage again asking God to reveal what He has for you in the specific word or phrase standing out to you. Listen, avoiding study and analyzation!
- Oratio-Respond. Go back over the passage again, specifically the word or phrase with the revelation God gave you. Prayerfully respond and listen again for God’s leading.
- Contemplatio-Rest. Shifting back to the passage, simply sit quietly in a restful stillness, listening for whatever the Lord has for you. This requires practice, you will become more comfortable with the silence over time as you learn to discern God’s voice.
Brief Lectio Divina
- Seeing. From your daily reading, choose a shorter passage to read once or twice through. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you eyes to see what truth He has for you today. Spend a few moments of silence with what you see.
- Listening. Sitting with the truth revealed as you read, listen quietly to what the Holy Spirit builds upon that truth. Avoid searching or study mode, just sit quietly asking the Holy Spirit to give you ears to hear what He is saying.
- Responding. What invitation did you hear while listening and sitting with the passage? Prayerfully engage with God as you accept His invitation to change, fellowship, or rest.
As with any relationship, one dimensional engagement not only becomes boring, but hinders deeper intimacy. While we certainly need time for study and searching the scriptures, as well as moments of communicating needs to God, times of deep listening enhance our fellowship.
The real work of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. Prayer is the place in which you can listen to the voice of the One who calls you beloved.Henri Nouwen
an invitation to intimacy
Moving beyond the tendency of informational hearing into compassionate listening in moments with God, is an offering of love. Resting within a place of deep intimacy, the sound of my Savior’s voice becomes most precious, simply for the privilege of hearing it.
Instead of merely looking for the next instruction, or striving for mastery of understanding, as Henri Nouwen expresses, I eagerly await His words of love, while communicating my own through the posture of a listening heart.