“Welcome to February!” I say, with a little bit of surprise. How did we get to February so quickly? And where did January go?
Time is flying past so quickly, mostly, I think because we are so busy or “noisy” in our lives. We need to slow down and listen. More about this later.
Last night at Equipping the Saints, Fr. Andrew introduced us to Listening month, and explained what it is that we need to pray about, contemplate on and how to listen to God. I will explain below.
The Diocese has put in place, The Assessment Commission – “Towards a Resourced Diocesan Vision”. And February 2019 has been designated as a “Listening Month”.
First, we need to address what exactly does the above statement mean. I will quote the introduction to the Assessment Commission below.
During this time of financial challenge, when an increasing number of parishes are defaulting on their assessment payments and the gap between Diocesan expenditure and income is widening, the establishment of the Assessment Commission has created an opportunity for the Diocese of Natal to critically evaluate the way in which it’s mission and ministry is resourced. Furthermore, while the focus of the Assessment Commission, as the name suggests, is on financial resourcing, it is inevitable and indeed appropriate that the Diocese takes this rare opportunity to listen to God and to reflect more widely on it’s priorities, processes and structures.The Assessment Commission – What’s it all about? – 2019
The second is “Listening Month”. What exactly does that mean?
We as a Diocese, as a parish and individually, need to take time everyday through the month of February, to prayerfully listen to God’s voice. How do you do that? How can we hear God’s voice? And how to we know when God is speaking to us? And what is God saying to us?
Though we are continually praying throughout the day. We need to spend some dedicated time (alone) with our Heavenly Father, with no distractions or “noise”. In a nutshell, we need some quiet time. Choose a time in your day, when you can spend at least 10 minutes alone or more. When you know, you will not be disturbed by family, or other distractions. Switch of your television, radio, iPad, tablet, phones etc. Your private space may be in your room, with the door closed or outside under a tree. Read the suggested text for this week from the Gospel of John 17:20-26, pray and then reflect on the message. And listen to God speaking to you, you will know when He is speaking to you!
When it comes to listening to God in prayer, let us pause and consider some wise words from Mother Teresa:-
“Prayer is not asking.
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.“– Mother Theresa
Prayer is responding to God…turn off the noise… find a way to be silent… God wants our full attention and we have to actively respond to the voice of God…– Fr. Andrew Manning
Too often we come to God with a long list of what we believe God should be doing for us. However, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he began with where we focus our hearts – to God in adoration and worship – “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…”. Only when we have spent time drawing near to God, lingering in His presence, can we have perspective on what we desire to see change in the world.
Each person hears God’s voice in different ways. Through the text in the Bible, through praise & worship, through listening to a sermon. While praying, contemplation and reflection. God can also speak to you through His Creation, while you are out on a walk, tending your garden, watching the waves break on the beach. When you realize how God is speaking to you, personally. You will not doubt it.
And how to we know what God is saying to us. It can be through a word jumping out at you from the text in the Bible, or a thought that keeps entering you mind during reflection. Or an idea that you never had before.
The more you listen to God and hear his voice, the easier it will be to know what God is saying to us.
This week, take a moment to call to mind the evidence of God’s love in your live. Protection, answered prayers, new life, reassurance etc. Use these memories as an opportunity to thank and praise God for all that He is. Centre yourselves on the God, revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit and worship as He deserves to be worshipped.
We extend an invitation to anyone who would like to join us on Sunday evenings at St Mary’s Anglican Church in Warner Beach from 6pm. To learn more about listening to God and responding to God. And to learn more about how we can be more intentional with our prayers, listening and discipleship. And sharing our vision and mission with the world.
During my own reflection on what was discussed during Equipping the saints, last night. The following words from Fr. Andrew stood out the most for me.
If we want to walk like Jesus, we need to be a listening people.
My family in Christ, pray with us, reflect with us and listen to God with us. Together as a community of believers, we can respond to God’s message to us, about how we can resource our Parish, our Diocese and ourselves to fulfill the mission of Jesus, in our time!
Stand up! Open your hearts, eyes and ears! And let us be obedient to what it is that God is saying to us and wanting us to do!
Heavenly Father, I pray for our community today, that we may have our spiritual ears opened today, so that we may hear Your voice and listen to what You are saying to us. And that we are able to understand Your message and be willing to share with the community what we have heard You say. So that we can respond to You Lord. That through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can continue and strengthen and revitalize Your mission in the world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Greetings in Christ.