April 2013

Have I been Listening?

I have been really encouraged with the participation during the joint Lent Course held in conjunction with Rayleigh Methodist Church. We met at either a morning session in Christ Church or an evening at the Methodist Church led by either myself or the Methodist minister, Phil Warrey. I participated in the discussion groups about half the time and I also lead half the sessions. The times I led, I was also privileged to eve-drop on the discussions in the groups around me.

Under the title of ‘Drawing Closer to God’ we learned – and used – the basic spiritual practices or disciplines of Christian discipleship. These include prayer, bible study, fasting, fellowship and communion. We explored each of these areas not so much as to learn the ‘skill’ of prayer or bible reading etc. but to learn to discover how we can find God and hear his voice. These spiritual practices connect us to God in special ways, by opening up our ‘spiritual senses’ to God. The under girding idea of the course assumes that God is always present but that we are often blind to see his hand and deaf to hear his voice as we go through our daily lives. Though God can break though and speak to us any time and anywhere, often our own anxieties and concerns get in the way. It is better if we are learned, trained and practiced in discovering the God who is in all and through all.

During the course, in the input, in the silence, in the discussion, we attempted to practice listening to God’s voice – in the input, in the silence, in the discussion. Like all skills and abilities it takes time to initially learn how to do something and longer how to do something well. Some of us struggled to find God in the input, in the silence, in the discussion, often because we hadn’t done enough practice to learn the discipline or skill, or we had forgotten over the years to repeat the skills.

I know in one discussion group I was so busy trying to impart my (profound!) knowledge that I forgot to truly listen to what one group member was saying. It was only in reflecting on the conversation later, that I discovered the God given wisdom that I had not heard earlier.

Overall, it was a sobering reminder to me, that in life in general, and even in church events and activities, it is very easy to ignore God’s presence. For me, I walked away with the much needed reminder that God is present and I can be connected with him.

I guess the real question for all of us is, are we willing to practice our God-listening skills so that we hear God speak with us?


April 2013