I’ve been continually inspired throughout the pandemic by people telling me how their faith and their prayer have upheld them during this last year. We are hearing at the moment of concerning news from India where there are huge numbers of cases of Covid and a lack of facilities to deal with them. I’ve recently spoken with a friend from northern India who has reiterated this. The mission where he lives has the only hospital locally that covers a very large and very remote area in the India Himalayas. He described how things are tough and, actually, a lot worse than what’s being reported. He shared though how he finds comfort, strength, guidance from his Christian faith. Much closer to home, I had a conversation this week with a recently bereaved widow who has been really struggling with her
loss but who tells me she is finding great comfort, great strength through her prayer.
We’ve tried to encourage and support prayer over this last year and this is something I want us to continue to do in future – I would love to think that people feeling they have a fuller prayer life could be a positive lasting legacy from these times in amongst all the negative things we have had to deal with. And so I’ve been thinking about prayer and the way in which we pray. When we pray, is that a time for us that is mainly about talking to God – perhaps with our petitions and requests to God or is it a time for us of listening: listening and making ourselves available to God? When it comes to talking or listening, the old idiom of we have two ears and one mouth for a reason I think is true in any relationship and is also true in our relationship with God!
The spiritual writer Henri Nouwen tells us something about listening to God in our prayer. He writes that ‘to pray is to listen to that voice of love’. He goes on to say that, in a way, ‘that is what obedience is all about’. The word obedience comes from the Latin word obaudire, which means “to listen with great attentiveness.” He adds that without listening in our prayer, ‘we become deaf to the voice of love’. The Latin word for deaf is surdus. To be completely deaf is to be absurdus, yes, absurd. When we no longer pray, no longer listen to the voice of love that speaks to us in the moment, our lives can become absurd lives!
In our personal prayer, could we seek to listen for God, to listen to God’s voice of love?
Sometimes, that might just be stilling ourselves and having a deep sense of God’s love for us as we pray. If we spend time, even just a few minutes, each day, being quiet, being still, being open to sensing God’s love for us. Being present, being open to God – I wonder what difference that might make to us in our journeys of faith?
‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
With my continued prayers and very best wishes.