I read a book – Hand to Hand: From Combat to Healing by Nigel Mumford. It was great, for so many reasons. But one thing Mumford recommended was taking time to listen to God – 20 minutes of sitting in silence, not praying anything, and listening actively.
I’ve been trying this – along with contemplative prayer. But without much success or continued perseverance. Instead, I sleep a lot. Or make a lot of to do lists during this time. NOT the point.
The guidance Mumford gave was good – he said listen to God like you listen to a person. And conversely, he said to practice actively listening to people in order to get better at listening to God. He wrote about how he tried this for 20 minutes a day for a week with nothing! And then he heard very directly God speak something random – which turned out to be a word of knowledge regarding the life of one of the people he counseled later that day. It was something only God would know, and when Mumford shared it with the person, she knew God heard her and knew her situation. Very cool.
Any case, yesterday I tried it. Sat for 15 minutes or so and just listened. I had some distracting day-dreamy type thoughts, as well as the “don’t forget to…” administrative panic that I seem to be under perpetually. But there also were some real gems in there – nothing super clear like “GOD TOLD ME…” but more like passing thoughts or impressions that I had no reason to think on my own. Kind of like thoughts within my thoughts.
1. Justice without mercy is an evil beast, a walking terror. Be merciful and kind.
2. [Remembering my Jesus dream from about a year ago] Jesus has never left, been distant, or pulled away from me. To the extent I feel that way, it’s because of how I’ve been towards Him. If you draw near to Him, you will experience that intimacy you long for.
3. My busy-ness/Martha struggle/need to be productive is partly me thinking I’ve got to do it all and relying on myself rather than God. Which is kinda similar to the sin of Adam & Eve in the garden — they wanted to be like God, so they disobeyed and took matters (in this case, fruit) into their own hands. So, too, when I take matters into my own hands and do, do, do, it’s often because I’m not trusting God and so in a way, I’m trying to take His place and do His job – to become like Him. And in doing so, I disobey His commands – particularly to rest and to take a Sabbath.
I was surprised by how many “thoughts within the thoughts” I had during this short time. But I was even more surprised by how relaxed and chilled out I felt afterwards. It was like I had taken a long nap or gotten a massage. How bizarre.
Well, so, I think I’m going to try it again today. We’ll see what happens!