My heart is heavy; I feel overwhelmed and burdened. “Lord, I’m trying to be strong. Tough, thick skinned.” I wait silently in the comfort of a longtime friendship. A friendship where nothing needs to be said but much often is.
The quiet ticking clock clears me out of the way so I can hear with my heart. Silence validates heavy feelings like the thoughtful, soothing, “hmm” we offer a distraught child.
And then my heart hears the gentle, understanding voice of my Saviour. “You are trying to be a rock.” Confirming tears slip from my eyes.
It’s as if the Lord lifts my chin and helps me see. “Kathleen, I am the rock. You are human, as you should be.” My imagination sees The Rock in the storm, waves lap at the base. And I am standing on the rock, feet look oddly planted, appearing to melt into the rock, body bending with the wind. I am curious and ask, “Why do I look like this?” I feel the Lord’s presence and I know am secure being present and vulnerable, bending in the wind, because I am actually planted in The Rock. A wave of Peace washes over me. I carry on.
Pondering this image, these words, over the minutes, hours, days and even weeks that follow confirms the source. I recognize their truth when I remember Ps 139. I feel a kinship with the author, David, the Poet King who started out as a shepherd boy, singing with God in the fields among the sheep. I make reading the Psalms part of my day. What did God say to David when he questioned, despaired, raged, failed, rejoiced, praised? I store these words in my heart for later.
Years of practicing Listening Prayer have made my Lord’s voice familiar.
God has something to say.
My experience of Listening Prayer started many years ago as a child who had a sensitive spirit. But as I grew older false teaching entered my mind and silenced God’s voice: it said God does not talk to his people any more; that ended with the prophets and the Apostles. The eyes of my heart looked down in shame; the visual thoughts God gave me were just my imagination. My mind was playing tricks on me. God hid but the child in me would no longer seek.
As years went by my prayer and devotion life became a burden. There was no room to be who God had created and invited me to be. Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah, to name but a few, were very important people who heard from God. Certainly God would not speak to a nobody like me, an over-sensitive child, an awkward teen, an uneducated college student, a busy teacher, a tired stay-at-home-mom.
One day I noticed a small book that had been given to my husband as a gift, The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence. I’ll never forget reading about Brother Lawrence peeling potatoes and talking to God. What I read in this book fit like a favorite gardening glove. This was who I was created to be. I‘m pretty sure I laughed out loud!
It would be simplistic to say everything changed with reading that book. I had years of unlearning to do. And it took years of learning to confidently converse and recognize God’s voice. I am a (young) Grandma now and God has something to say to me. I practice the presence of God using all the gifts God has given me. Listening Prayer has allowed me to experience God more than I could have asked or imagined.