Listening to God

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Ezekiel 33, Psalm 81-82

Praying

Praying is a popular pastime. According to a 2008 Brandeis University study, 90% of Americans have a spiritual moment with God every day – even Obama recently admitted that he prays daily  [1]. Yet, how do we pray? Some say blessings before eating or falling asleep. Others pray as needs arise. Some use the acronym ACTS [2] [3].

Listening

In our prayers, however, do we ever stop talking to God and start listening to Him? As Asaph noted, Israel’s problem was not their lack of prayer – in fact, they complained to God about everything – but rather their lack of listening:

Hear me, my people, and I will warn you – if you would only listen to me, Israel! [4] … But my people would not listen to me [5] … If my people would only listen to me … [6]

How do we listen to God? Do we sit in silence and wait for a voice? Do we look in the sky for writing across the heavens? For the Israelites, listening to God meant listening to His appointed representative, Moses, and the message that He called him to deliver, the Law. Today, however, God has spoken by His Son:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being … [7].

Thus, the best way to listen to God is to read the Bible, which reveals the promise of His Son through the Law and the Prophets (in the Old Testament) and the fulfillment of that promise in Jesus Christ our Lord (in the New Testament). We come to interpret the Bible through community and prayer [8] and, to the extent that we do what the Bible commands, then we can be confident that we are, in fact, listening to God. As Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” [9)

Prayer

Lord, You have spoken through Your Son and revealed Him to us through Your Word. Yet, I confess that I often am more concerned with talking – rather than listening – to You. Open my ears and silence my tongue so that I may hear what You have to say and help me to obey that which You have spoken. Amen.

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[1] LA Times, Obama increasingly talking publicly about his Christian faith (28 Sept 2010)  |  [2] “A” stands for adoration (e.g., “God, you are holy.”), “C” stands for confession (e.g., “I confess that I am sinful.”), “T” stands for thanksgiving (e.g., “Thank you for making a way for me – a sinner – to be in your holy presence.”), and “S” stands for supplication (e.g., “Help me to live in your righteousness.”). For additional help, see here.   |  [3] I actually use each of these methods of prayer. With my niece and nephew, I pray a blessing over our meal (“God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. By His hands, we all are fed. Thank you for our daily bread. Amen.”). I say an evening blessing every night before I go to sleep (“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.”). I use ACTS to pray almost every prayer that I offer.  |  [4] Psalm 81:8 TNIV  |  [5] Psalm 81:11 TNIV  |  [6] Psalm 81:13 TNIV  |  [7] Hebrews 1:1-3 TNIV  |  [8] The importance of reading the Bible in community cannot be overstated. It guards against apostasy, heresy and arrogance. Thus, it is important to attend church services with knowledgeable pastors or priests, to join a small group, to spend time speaking with friends or family about the Bible, etc.  |  [9] John 8:31-32 TNIV. See also James 1:22 (“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what is says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it – not forgetting what they have heard but doing it – they will be blessed in what they do.”).

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2 Comments to “Listening to God”

  1. oh thank you for one bethany!

  2. Lucile! Thank YOU for reading. :)

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