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Sunday, January 31, 2010

On the Primacy of Listening to God

Last Wednesday, I met for an early breakfast with a dear old friend. He a man of God in the truest sense of the term. He is also a man of prayer and has been for the 20 years I have known. Prayer is his way of life.

He is also a man who listens to God as one of the key ways he relates to him. We have shared retreat ministry for years around helping people learn how to listen as a mode of prayer. We see it as an essential mode. All communication if it is true communication involves listening, especially the ability to listen well. Prayer is listening too.

In the course of our warm-spirited catch up conversation he spoke of struggling over Christmas time to connect with Jesus in prayer. He was not hearing him and wondering why. As I listened, the Spirit began to remind me of how I had largely abandoned listening prayer almost completely since I moved to Massachusetts. Yesterday, he exhorted me to "return to my strength." I know he was talking about listening to him. My entire ministry at the Center For Renewal/Klesis grew and flowed from the frequent practice of this spiritual discipline. It guided all we did.

I had abandoned my strength in favor of tackling the avalanche of minutiae attending launching a church. Really foolish. Really, really foolish!

So beginning yesterday morning, I returned to the Well to listen in the Scriptures and to the still, small voice of the Spirit. My life depends on it. I little noticed the riches of what I had forsaken. Living in this dark city without being spiritually tethered was desiccating my spirit and dimming my hope little by little. I was wandering in the wilderness of my own making.

Even after just two mornings, here's what I have been shown upon returning to the well-worn path:

1. Without listening I am largely wandering around on my own.

2. Without listening I defer quickly to my motivation for exploring without a clear design.

3. Without listening, I focus on trifles and spend my resources on what matters little, but looks promising.

4. Without listening, I stumble more easily into sin, errant passions, and foolish pursuits.

5. Without listening, I have little discernment about spiritual matters and the lying spirits who seek to entangle me in dangerous traps.

6. Without listening, I am spiritually impotent and frighteningly self-absorbed with little of true Kingdom consequence.

7. With listening, my love for Jesus and desire for his glory grows and centers me.

8. With listening, I locate his will and way; I am more able to obey and produce fruit that lasts.

9. With listening, I am more allied to my deeply spiritual wife ad partner in ministry; we are more in sync in everything.

10. With listening, wonder grows from apprehending the greatness, beauty, holiness and majesty of God.

11. With listening, I have the greatest chance of being effective in launching imagine/Northampton.

12. With listening, I am more able to love and connect my broken humanity with the broken humanuty of everyone around me.

In other words, it is my lifeline. I am a fool to neglect, much less abandon it.

Jesus, may you keep me on a short leash to help me stay near you with open ears, a soft heart, quickened mind, and a deepening love for you and those you love. Please let me never stray again from my strength and my LIFE.

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