LISTENING, WORSHIPPING & INTERCESSORY PRAYER
In ‘Open To God’, we’re getting glimpses sometimes of learning to listen to God, expecting to hear Him speak. But as in the story of Martha and Mary (Lk 10:38-42), we’re often more comfortable to feel, with Martha, that the immediate ‘needs’ are more urgent! We’re more used to posing the prayer that says “Lord, we need help with this or that important issue!”!
Jesus didn’t rubbish Martha’s request, but equally, commended Mary for having chosen the ‘one thing needful’, to prioritise listening to Him. In OTG, where have we “got” so far?
Trying to listen to God involves asking how we can expect to hear from Him. Mostly through His Word, the Bible? Yes, but we’re told not to assume that’s the only way. Some receive other gifts of the Spirit, such as words of knowledge, prophecy, other worship-languages and their interpretation. Some get poems or pictures. (1 Cor 12:1-14) Lord, please, more!
We’ve been finding that making an intentional, extended time of silence after reading a Bible-passage gives God the space to tell us what He wants to say. We’ve got to be willing, seemingly, to ‘waste’ time listening for God’s still, small voice. Some of us still find it uncomfortable – it’s counter-cultural! Like the disciples, we too might feel “To what purpose is this waste (of time!)?” (Mk 14:1-9)
We may have to ‘die’ to our own agendas and expectations of issues about which we feel we want to pray! And ask Him to highlight which issues He want to focus on today.
We then ask, “What have people thought they heard God say to them through this passage?” And give them an opportunity to pray in whatever God has seemed to say, not rushing that time, as shyer folk might take longer to come out with what they’ve heard.
How can we know if what we think we’ve ‘heard’ is from God, and not our own imagination? We noted some weeks ago that it’s good to ask God at the start of a meeting to show us by His Holy Spirit if there’s any outstanding wrong we need acknowledge, repent of and turn away from. Having confessed anything that came to mind and received forgiveness, we trust that any thought or impression now coming into our mind is planted there by God and not us!
We will however get it wrong sometimes, being human. So we need others to test what we think He’s said, and correct or even ignore it completely! But it’s not a complete disaster to get it wrong if we’re asking God to, accepting that we can all make mistakes, acknowledge them & be forgiven.
There is a connexion between listening to God and worship. Mary was learning to worship, when she anointed Jesus shortly before His shameful death on the Cross. (Jn 12:1-8). Jesus said of her that wherever the Good News would be subsequently told, her act of worship would be remembered. Martha, for her part, expressed her own worship in Jn 11:27.
We too are on a journey of exploration in ‘Open To God’, learning to listen, worship & pray about issues He is highlighting. Jesus did in the end get His lunch, maybe a little late?