Jesus took time to be silent before His Father, to listen to His voice.
Mark 1:35-In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. 8 Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered 9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
In Mark 9:7- God admonished Peter, James, and John with the words, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.
Prayer and seeking silence is as much about listening as it is about talking. God can and does speak to us through His Word- but He can also speak Truth into our lives through His Holy Spirit- if we are attuned to listen.
Jesus continually taught us to listen (“He who has ears, let him hear”).
Gary L. Thomas says in his book, Sacred Parenting:
What distinguishes a Christian from those who don’t believe or from those who make no room for God in their lives? A Christian listens to God while the world ignores him. Sometimes we downplay the role of listening, insisting that listening alone comes up short; we have to obey, after all. But frankly, being flat-out ignored offends as much as anything. We know this as parents. Does anything feel more irritating than talking to kids who tune us out?
But we tune God out. How? Thomas continues…
Many of us don’t actively rebel against God. We don’t shake our fist at him or malign his name- but we do ignore him. We get too busy to listen. And that offends him just as much as refusing to obey…We say we believe in God, but what good is our belief if it doesn’t intersect with everyday living?
We only consult God on the “challenging parts,” resting in the confidence of our own abilities to manage the seemingly insignificant day to day.
But what about those things we can’t see? God can prepare us, use us to bless others and/or avert a crisis- but we have to be connected to Him to hear His voice- to discern where He is leading us.
“We are a prideful people by nature, and pride keeps telling us we don’t need God to handle the situation at hand. Listening to God provides the true test of our humility. Humble people listen; prideful people never seem to have time to wait on God.” Gary L. Thomas
When I read the above quote- once again “WAIT” called out to me. God continues to challenge me- will you wait? Will you seek silence, even though it makes you squirm?
Will you stop talking long enough to listen to me? Or are you afraid of what I might say, what I might ask you to do?
Yes, I am a little afraid. I see the sacrifices that God calls Paul to, and Peter, and even His own Son Jesus- and yes, I get a little scared and intimidated by that.
I am so comfortable- I have habits- and I feel safe in my “cushy” world that I have “created.” I love God- but I get scared sometimes thinking about Him coming in and turning it all upside down.
That’s ok, we can admit our fears to God. He can handle them. He will patiently lead us and guide us through our fears and our struggles, but we must have a willing spirit.
What He needs most and wants most of all from us is that our faith and trust is only in Him. That we seek to be obedient to His Will for our life- to allow Him to transform us- in that process we bring Him Glory. We seek him first.
“Learn one lesson from Simeon and Anna. How utterly impossible it was for them to do anything toward the great redemption- toward the birth of Christ or His death. It was God’s work. They could do nothing but wait. Are we as absolutely helpless in regard to the revelation of Christ in us? We are indeed. God did not work out the great redemption in Christ as a whole and leave its application in detail to us.
The secret thought that it is so is the root of all our feebleness. The revelation of Christ in every individual believer, and in each one the daily revelation, step by step and moment by moment, is as much the work of God’s omnipotence as the birth or resurrection of Christ. Until this truth enters and fills us, and we feel that we are just as dependent upon God for each moment of our life in the enjoyment of redemption as they were in their waiting for it, our waiting upon God will not bring its full blessing.” Andrew Murray Waiting on God
We are so used to busyness and “doing” giving our life meaning- that the thought of stillness, of silence, or waiting for more than a few minutes in silence makes us all feel a little crazy.
But consider with me- all this working, running-it is us seeking to be obedient by our own strength and will- not in submitting ourselves to the rule of God in our hearts and lives.
Why do we live our lives with such a sense of urgency? Decisions need to be made now, we don’t have time to stop and talk to God about it.
That immediate gratification that is so prevalent in our culture leads us into hasty decisions- where we live life flailing about in a false sense of immediacy- rather than resting- stopping in silence to seek God.
How can we cooperate with God’s will for us when we don’t stop to spend time with Him to hear His voice?
I have to stop and seek Him. Wait- listen- and stop plowing recklessly along without even taking the time to consider “why” I am behaving the way that I do.
What’s at the heart?
Why are we unhappy?
God will speak to us if we listen. If we let silence work. Embrace the awkwardness with me. Let’s stumble through this strange new practice of being quiet and still together.
“This is what we ought to seek and dare to expect, because God is able and waiting to work it in us. But, God himself must work it. And for this end our working must cease. We must see how entirely it is to be the faith of the operation of God, who raised Jesus from the dead. Just as much as the resurrection, the perfecting of God’s life in our souls is to be directly His work. And, waiting has to become, more than ever, a tarrying before God in the stillness of soul, counting upon Him who raises the dead and calls the things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17).” Andrew Murray Waiting on God
Lord, we come before you in humility- recognizing that many times we try to do things our own way. We fall back on confidence in our own abilities and fail to seek You. God, our Father, who loves and adores us- even when we make a mess- we are so thankful that you can redeem our disasters, and through this process mold us and shape us into children who honor and bring Glory to your Name.
Forgive us for our stubbornness and our habitual self-sufficiency. Lead us away from busyness and into the slowness of silence. Teach us how to wait on You. May we be hungry for it- to know the joy of confident obedience. Help us to be strong and take courage- as we struggle with releasing our grip on our lives and opening our hands to release it all to You. In Jesus Name we pray and hope today, Amen.