Listening in prayer

Do you keep a journal? We used to call them diaries, but that makes me think of a teenager writing about her secret crushes in the pages of a book she hopes no one will ever read. I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t have any secret crushes, but I do have secrets. We all do, don’t we? Secrets that we hope no one will ever know, or read about. But I have learned something in my old age, there is Someone who knows all my secrets. His name is Jesus. And even though He knows every single one of them, even the ones I don’t even acknowledge to myself, they are safe with Him. I have discovered that He does one of two things with my secrets (He might do more, I don’t know). First, if I confess my secrets to Him, He will forgive them. I mean, isn’t that what sin is, a secret? And second, He loves me unconditionally, even as He watches me living with those unconfessed secrets. Perhaps, I should add that He does a third thing with my secrets, come to think of it. When I confess them, He forgets them! Micah 7:19 tells us “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea”. This has often been translated as the sea of forgetfulness.  What powerful imagery! The ocean is a pretty big place and my secrets will easily be hidden and forgotten. Just ask anyone who has ever searched for debris in the middle of the ocean. It’s deep and wide and ever moving. 

But there is something else that I want to mention when it comes to keeping a journal. I write in my journal every morning the things that I believe God is showing me in scripture or telling me through His Holy Spirit. You see, God also has secrets, but His secrets are good, not evil and He likes to share them with His friends. In John 15:15 Jesus says to His disciples, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. Jesus wants to share His secrets with you and me as well. How do we know this? Because Jesus had just told the disciples a few moments earlier “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth” and “the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you”. (John 14:16-17,26)

In John 10:27 Jesus tells us “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”.

Let me rephrase that. Jesus tells us that if you are His sheep, you will hear His voice and follow Him. Let me ask you a question. Do you know the sound of your mate’s voice? Do you know the sound of your best friend’s voice? I’m assuming you said yes. Why do you know it so well? Is it because you spend time with them, and listen to them when they speak? I’m sure the answer is yes, again. So why do so many not know the voice of their Master? I think you are beginning to see where I’m going with this, at least I hope you do. Is the reason why so many Christian’s don’t know His voice, because they don’t spend any time listening? 

Let me ask you another question. Have you ever spent time with someone who talked non stop and never allowed you to get a word in edge wise? And when they were done, the “conversation” was over? I think a lot of us look at prayer like that. We talk at God, give Him our shopping list, tell Him what we want Him to do for us, and then we walk away. And might I add, that we walk away feeling satisfied, even gratified, because we spent time in prayer. So, how do you feel when someone just talks at you? I bet it’s not a nice feeling. I look at my prayer life, over the past 45 years of being a Christian, and I cringe to think how many times I did that to the Lord, and then patted myself on the back, thinking I had somehow appeased Him. I bet He didn’t feel so good. I have images in my mind of Him opening and shutting His mouth, trying to get a word in, but not being allowed to. Why? Because I never stopped talking long enough to allow Him to say anything.

So let’s go back to that journal. Why do I keep a journal? Because I like to write down all His secrets. I like to write down every single thing He tells me. My journal forces me to stop talking and listen for His voice. It was not easy at first. I had to learn to listen. I had to learn to be quiet and wait. But it has gotten so much easier with time. And I will testify to this, waiting on God and hearing His voice, is so worth it. There is nothing so wonderful as to hear the voice of the one who loves me the most, who delights in me, and died for my sin. And truthfully, He already knows everything I need and want. (I’m not suggesting here that we shouldn’t ask for things in prayer) He tells us in Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”. What does seeking the kingdom really mean? Perhaps Mary shows us in Luke 10:41:42, But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” What was Mary doing? She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, and listening. 

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