Do you talk a lot when you pray? You know, telling God all the stuff he needs to know and do for you to get stuff done. I’ve been reading Deitrich Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together” which has convicted my pants off about shutting up and listening a little bit when I enter into prayer.
What about letting your mind wander as you read scripture? Or how about coming to scripture to read, instead of listening? Bonhoeffer also stresses the importance of allowing scripture to lead us into prayer, but if we’re not listening, how is this supposed to happen?
I have a hard time in both areas so it would seem my quiet time is doomed.
Our church was challenged by Pastor John Nix at the end of 2013 to listen to Jesus this year as we read scripture “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”(Mt 17:5). I was so inspired I decided that this year I would only read Matthew over and over and listen to all the red words, but I still catch myself just reading to read and struggling to pray.
I’ve purposely started trying to listen and not just rush through the passage to get done, and as I pray, I’ve been not so quick to break out my lists of stuff. Then I read the most encouraging passage about Peter on the mountain during the transfiguration in Matthew 17.
James, John and Peter are on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured, and Moses and Elijah appeared. How awesome that must have been. When my spirituality is spiking at the time I read that verse, I breeze past it knowing that I would have fell on my face. But as I read the passage this time, I realized that I would have been more like Peter. Instead of pondering what was happening like Mary did when an angel appeared to her, Peter’s knee jerk reaction is to start talking. He has a plan to build tents because I guess he had the gift of hospitality and that’s what those people do. So instead of listening to Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter’s mind is wandering to other things that he thinks are important and good. Just like me when I read scripture and pray.
I’ve read this passage many times but only today did I recognize the best part: “He was still speaking…” when God’s voice blasted from the cloud telling Peter “listen to him”! Despite his babbling on about tents and other things, God spoke to them and they all fell on their faces.
I learned from this passage that that even in my distracted time with Jesus reading scripture and praying, if I stick with it long enough, God will speak and I will hear. My faithfulness is all that’s required
which is supported by God’s overwhelming grace and mercy.
“My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.” Proverbs 23:36