We live in a world where a thousand voices are vying for our attention. Media spends millions of dollars finding ways to get us to part with our dollars.
Throbbing bass lines are the background for hearing about a new car model. Adorable little puppies get us to consider the right carpeting. Explosions galore announce the new video game. Political candidates are eager for you to see them as louder (i.e. stronger) than their opponents. Even the weather report is hyped to become drama. How many “storms of the century” have we had lately? We end up wanting all our learning to have this quick and noisy “sound byte” to it.
That’s not how God communicates with us. Elijah the prophet stood on the mountain and asked the Lord to speak to him (1 Kings 19:12). First there came a mighty wind . . . but God was not in the wind. Then an earthquake . . . nothing. Then fire, still no voice of God. Finally, standing on the mountain came “a still small whisper.” It was the Lord.
Why doesn’t God shout at us to get our attention? Sometimes He will if things get critical; something like, “You’re under arrest”, Or “You’re drunk”, Or “Stop it you’re hurting me!” can have the voice of God in it!
But most times God’s voice is subtle, like a whisper. He’s a loving Father. Love is best communicated this way so as not to cause fear or to violate one’s freedom.
Some ways to help hear God’s whisper to you:
- Quiet your world. Noise, particularly endless human speech, fatigues one’s ability to LISTEN. Turn off the TV or radio or ipad when not purposely using it.
- Create a place in your home to meet God. Perhaps a chair with a window and a crucifix nearby (You do have a crucifix in your home, don’t you? If not get one.)
- Ask God to send the Holy Spirit to open your heart to hear His word to you.
- Have something of your own thought to sprinkle the silence with. Something short and simple . . . “Jesus I love you.” “Lord be with me.” “Speak Lord, help me to listen.” Or just the name “Jesus”.
- Just sit. It’s like waiting for a bus (remember that?!). Your mind will wander of course; don’t be bothered by that. Use your little phrase to bring you back to waiting for Him.
- Don’t think something dramatic will happen . . . remember God is subtle, not loud. We’re looking for a thought or a memory or a hope to “pop up”. If nothing pops up, that’s perfectly fine. You’ve had a few moments to “just sit with God”. Over time you will find these few moments much more refreshing than checking phone messages.
- Have this “sit” every day or at least as often as you can. 5 minutes, you can do this!
- Keep at it. God will speak to you. And over time you will know it. That’s a promise from Jesus. (read Jn. 14: 15-21)
I was on a silent retreat two years ago. Each night I’d visit the darkened chapel to say good night to Jesus. I had been sitting there for some minutes without a single pious thought when the idea “popped” into my head that Mary, his mother, was keeping the same vigil I was.
Tired and a little frustrated I said, “Your son is pretty quiet tonight”. Then it happened . . . (I could never have created this myself). The thought “came to me” where I saw Mary smile and turn slightly toward me, “Don’t worry,” she seemed to say, “He knows you’re here.”
If you had been there would you have heard these words in the chapel? Of course not. It was a little interior grace God gave me to let me know that I was not alone. In faith He was there with me and so was Mary.
Mary’s been my chapel partner ever since – quietly keeping watch with me.
Bless you. Happy sitting.