If we are made in God’s image, and we are relational beings, then God must be a relational being as well. God is continually communicating with us, if we only have generous ears to what is being spoken.
Last week we looked at the following passage:
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are generous*, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are stingy*, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.” (Luke 11:34)
I feel that the same principle applies to listening as well as seeing. “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:7, NIV)
I was at a prayer retreat recently where we meditated on Matthew 6:6-8.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
As we sat quietly with this passage of scripture I was taken aback by my emotional reaction to it. I felt agitated, even angry. There was a visceral rising deep from within my soul. I felt that Jesus’ words were confining my prayer life, almost like my prayers would not count if I didn’t find a quiet and private place to offer my prayers. But, as we shared our thoughts concerning this passage I discovered that most people saw that “go into your room” was quite a flexible phrase and could entail everything from a traditional “quiet time” to taking a moment to be with God during a coffee break or at a stop light.
I initially felt guilty for having such a reaction to the scriptures, but then I remembered the verse in the letter to the Hebrews:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 NIV)
I could have stayed with my angry feelings, but then I realized that God was using the scriptures to reveal something that needed to be addressed in my heart. That is, even though God does communicate with us all the time, God also wants us to experience special times when God relates to us as a parent. These special times may be brief or extended, but they are more than a passing acknowledgement. They are moments when we know that our hearts have conversed with God. I came to see that God received my angry thoughts as an invitation to a conversation. God listened to me, then I listened to God. We had a conversation. We were both understood. Our relationship took a step forward that day. I learned that a little listening goes a long way.
Grace and peace,
* The Greek for healthy here implies generous. The Greek for unhealthy here implies stingy. (Luke 11:34 NIV Notes)