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Let Us Pray

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Jul 21 in Musings
"Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear."  Jesus said it a number of times. And the truth is, many people I talk to desire this above anything else- to hear.  From God. “If I could just hear from God, just know what he wants me to do, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” we say, with the utmost sincerity. But sometimes it seems like God isn’t speaking. What do we do then?
Sometimes we just fill the celestial airwaves with our voices. We just keep asking and asking and asking. Keep knocking, right? We get down on our knees, or fold our hands differently, or close our eyes harder, searching for the perfect prayer posture so that God will answer. Other times we may just sit impassively, waiting for a lightning bolt from heaven to precede an audible voice from God. I’ve had several lightning bolt experiences in my life, and they are not to be underestimated. But that is not God’s normal mode of communicating with me.

The late Dallas Willard was a professor of philosophy at USC for 48 years, a prolific author, compelling speaker and very committed follower of Jesus. I know that he taught several times at Hollywood Presbyterian. His work on spiritual formation is well worth reading. I just finished a year-long devotional based on his book “Hearing God” (subitle: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God). The book is well worth reading, as Willard argues eloquently that hearing God is a very normal part of the maturing Christian life. But I was particularly struck by this, near the end of the book:

            “Often I find it works best if after I ask for God to speak to me, I devote the next hour or so to some kind of activity that neither engrosses my attention with other things nor allows me to be intensely focused on the matter in question. Housework, gardening, driving about on errands or paying bills will generally do. I do not worry about whether or not this works. I know that it does not have to work, but I am sure that it will work if God has something he really wants me to know or do. This is ultimately because I am sure of how great and good he is.”

Hmm. No perfect prayer posture, no intense eyelid concentration, no lightning bolt. The way Willard writes, you would think that hearing God has more to do with trust and learning how to recognize God’s voice...which is exactly what is intended. “Often by the end of an hour or so,” Willard says, “there has stood forth within my consciousness an idea or thought with that peculiar quality, spirit and content that I have come to associate with God’s voice.”

Learning to trust, practicing, slowing down, cultivating familiarity by a deepening relationship with God and not by magic formula...these are things that teach us to listen well. “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening (I Samuel 3).”
                See you soon,
                            Pastor Dan      

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