Lately, God has been talking to me about what it means to hear God speak.
First, there was Stanford anthropologist TM Luhrmann’s article, which begged my initial question in Friday’s post: what does it mean to hear God speak?
Then there was Sunday’s sermon by Thomas Daniel- all about how learning to hear God’s voice is, arguably, a primary reason for church. (Once that sermon is available online, I will post it here for you.)
Yesterday evening I stumbled upon these words from the former Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey, who when once asked how to pray said this: “I just get down on my knees and hope for the best.”
By Ramsey’s definition, I suspect many of this year’s Oscar nominees and their ogling fans were “praying” in the days leading up to last night’s ceremony.
But in unpacking Ramsey’s understanding of prayer, Giles Fraser elaborates: “In other words, there is not much that you have to do [to pray] other than make time for [prayer]. For Ramsey, prayer was not the heaping up of pious chatter. It was not a peculiar way of getting things done in the world. Rather, it was about listening and waiting – being attentive to that which is beyond oneself, a form of concentration on that which is other (italics mine).”
Hearing God presupposes that something Other than our own internal chatter and the daily distractions of our media-saturated world can break into our lives and call us out of ourselves even as it grounds us more deeply in Love. My own experience has been that when I come to God with this presupposition, God does in fact “speak” to me. Images, visions, and phrases reveal themselves within this tent of listening prayer. So do interactions with other people, which seem to become more vividly in the service of Love, whereas before they might have been only mundane transactions of sorts.
I think C.S. Lewis is right when he says prayer is almost more important for how it changes the one praying than the one being prayed for; but that change takes place more in the act of listening to God rather than talking back.
But what is your experience of listening to God? How does God speak to you? Can you identify with Ramsey’s definition of prayer as “getting down on one’s knees and hoping for the best”?