I visited my parents today.
Each year, the lake that they live at holds a meeting with all of their members. After the meeting, my parents put on a pretty awesome steak dinner for all 20 something members. And since I've moved out I've gone back each time to help. So for 8 hrs yesterday, I got to play caterer extraordinaire.
I got there, and from the minute I got there my dad started talking. Here's how mom is doing, watch this, chop the tomatoes different, the phone call at 10 at night, his opinions on church, how great the kids are at this one church (best kids he's ever known) (and yes, my brother and I glare at him each time he says it because he says that A LOT), his opinions on church youth camps, his memories of church youth camp, his milled flax seed (tastes like dirt he says, but it was surprisingly tasteless) (mom wouldn't let me put it on the salad as a fun healthy
I went there with one thing to say. And I never got it said.
Literally, the only way I could have gotten it said was if I had simply waited for him to take a breath in one of his stories and then yelled out the information. Considering the nature of what we were trying to tell him, it didn't seem to be the most appropriate way to share the news.
I drove away with my mind full of all his many words. He was passionate about them. All of them. From his idea that no one puts God first anymore to how he wanted the tomatoes diced. It was all oh so very important. And I think that's the part that really made me realize what I doof I am when I pray.
I imagine that just because I have emotionally poured myself out to God, because I have been fervent, because I have touched on each of the needs facing those I know and the world in general, because I have begged His will to be done; that all those things mean I have prayed well. I have communed with God.
But what if every time I hit my knees, every time my eyes lifted to the Heavens or my heart bent itself to pray, what if every single time I went there more intent on hearing what He had to say instead of what I needed to say? How much would that change my prayer time? How much could that change my life?
How many times does God sit there, listening to my prayers and just waiting for me to let Him speak too. I'd imagine it's fairly often.
That's the part that hurts though, how many times have I gone to God, gotten His complete attention, had Him poised to speak to me, when suddenly as my words finally came to a close I stood up and went back about my business?
You see, it takes faith to kneel down, to bend your heart in prayer and then wait for God. In the silence your mental conversation begins... this is kinda silly...so how long am I suppose to sit here not talking?...are people watching me not pray???....I wonder if it's bad that I'm thinking these silly thoughts while I'm waiting?.... maybe this means I'm not waiting since my mind is still running?...is He even going to SAY anything?...why isn't He saying anything?...maybe He's tried but your mind won't shut up long enough to hear it...
**commence heartfelt prayers that God would quiet my heart and make me still before Him**
I'm shaking my head at myself even as I write this, because that's exactly how it plays out.
But here's the faith that I have.
God does speak today. He speaks to each and every one of us, even though He often has to interrupt us to do it. And I believe, firmly, that if we shut up for a minute and quiet ourselves in His presence, He may begin to speak more and more often as we learn to l i s t e n.
His is a voice we sheep need to be listening for. There's a difference in listening TO and listening FOR. When you listen to a voice, you simply hear them when they speak. When you're listening for a voice, as you walk through every moment of every day, sometimes you find yourself stopped in the middle of a sentence, in the middle of a project, in the middle of a sermon or teaching class, and you say "Was that You Lord? I thought I heard You!"
But that only lasts so long until, after hearing and listening to that voice for so long there is no longer any question when you hear His still small voice in your ear. It's not just a practiced thing, but a relationship thing. As you get deeper and deeper in to the love and fellowship of Christ you learn His voice better and better. You learn His words, You learn His heart. And as you do that, there will be times when the world tells you "That's not of God" but holding onto your Savior you'll know that they haven't seen the whole of God. They haven't grasped the full revelation of who God is.
Not that you have either. But if I'm going to see through this glass darkly, I'm going to be pressed up to that glass as close as I can peering for a better view.
God help us to shut up a minute so You can talk!