CONTENTS God’s wordListening to God’s wordUsing this bookA prayer First week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Second week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Third week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Fourth week Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Special times Listening to God in times of joy Listening to God in times […]
Listening to God’s word
Using this book
Listening to God in times of joy
Listening to God in times of gratitude
Listening to God in times of doubt
Listening to God about illness
Listening to God in depression
Listening to God in times of anxiety or fear
Listening to God about guilt
Listening to God about family
Listening to God about death
Listening with the heart to God’s word
We listen to words at Barry levels. Some words go no further than our ears. Some enter our minds and make us think. Other words touch our surface feelings with shallow joy or momentary sadness.
The deepest form of listening takes place when we listen with the ears of the heart. The words then affect us profoundly; they change us. This is real listening. We usually listen in this way to close friends because the words come to us wrapped in love. These words enhance our sense of self-worth and change the way we look at the world.
This is how God wants us to hear the word in scripture. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen a better way because, rather than serving his meal or speaking to him, she sat with him and listened. Recall also that on the Road to Emmaus, the two disciples’ hearts were on fire while listening to god’s word: ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”
Having listened to the word, your deep feeling may be one of love, joy, peace or freedom, one of need, of hope or of confidence, one of awe or wonder, one of being called with a desire to respond or a feeling of regret for the past. Whatever your feeling is, it is your prayer from your heart.
Note: If, on reading God’s word, you have feelings of fear, of constant guilt or of excessive anxiety, it is advisable to speak to a friend or to a spiritual guide about it.
Using this book
These are not prayers to be said; they are words to be listened to.
In order to make your prayerful listening more personal, I offer, in heart-to-heart direct speech, what I believe the New Testament is saying to you. The Good News is always addressed to you personally. After each quote, I give the reference to its source so that you may read it in the original when you wish. The explanations of the themes may help you from time to time.
The sessions are set out in the form of three for each day. Don’t be put off by this. You may use them for daily prayer or choose a subject from the alphabetical index which suits you at a particular time. During liturgical seasons such as Easter or Christmas you may like to choose the prayer-themes indicated.
As you read the word, it may help to close your eyes and wait for the deep feeling to come. This feeling comes from God’s Spirit in your spirit, so that the prayer becomes uniquely yours.
Before prayer it will help to breathe deeply and slowly a few times, while trusting that God is going to speak to you. You may find your favourite picture or icon helpful.
If one of the scripture words from your prayer-time helps you deeply, you could recall it when you work around the house, take a walk, drive, sit in a bus or play golf.
Finally, imagine if you met Jesus and he called you by name, saying, ‘I have some good news for you.’ Ask yourself how you would react. Would you speak or would you listen deeply?
Let the word of Christ in all its richness have a home in you.
You may find this prayer useful to begun your time with the word.
May you, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ
give me a spirit of wisdom
and perception of what you reveal,
bringing me to full knowledge of yourself,
as I listen to your words.
(cf Col 1:9-10)
The People of God in the Old Testament were like us in their desire to see God. In the book of Exodus, God forbade the making of all images, not because God is remote, but because no words, no concepts, no images and no power of imagination can define or describe God. Images of God could give the impression of comprehending the incomprehensible and of limiting the limitless. Israel was never permitted to see God’s form as when God spoke from the fire or from the cloud.
However, in the opening word of Hebrews we read: `Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son … He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being.’
Paul makes this great truth even clearer to the Colossians: ‘He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created … For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.’
At the Last Supper. Jesus made this great revelation to Philip: ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ Jesus is not the Father but the one sent by the Father. The message he gives by his life is the story of God. His voice is the voice of God. He is the human image of God.
Now prayerfully contemplate the spoken words of him who is God’s greatest Word to you.
The Hebrew word dabhar is used to describe God’s word in the Old Testament. Dahbar means much more than a sound in our ear or a thought in our head. It is the word which made the world. It is a creative word, a word-event. God’s word never leaves the believing listener the same. When a word from God is received with an open heart, that person is enriched and gently changed.
Two thousand years ago, God spoke his deepest Word to us – Jesus. The humanity of Jesus was the full manifestation of all that God is. And every word spoken by Jesus was God’s word too.
For this reason the New Testament still speaks God’s word to us. St Paul told Timothy that the words of scripture instruct us, correct any evil among us, teach us how to be holy and equip us for every good work. Every word in scripture is God saying ‘I love you’ in many different ways. God cannot speak any other word, because God is love.
Jesus told us that God’s word is like a seed: it initiates life within us. St Peter tells us that we can be ‘born anew … through the living and enduring word of God’. Paul said to the Colossians, ‘Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly’ Each word in scripture can transform us because God’s word is God himself.
Constantly recall that God’s word is always new each time you read it.