SoulShift #5: Ask to Listen

This soul shift focus on two areas, discernment and prayer, and personally, I think this is the best written chapter thus far.

Regarding discernment , I think the authors did an excellent job describing and putting into proper balance those things we use to discern God’s will: wise counsel, the Bible, and the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit. It is all to easy to rely too heavily upon one of these tools. Asking people but not God, “using the Bible like “a magic 8 ball” (DeNeff & Drury), or always requiring a sign, all take one method of God leading us to an extreme. As we mature, taking on more of the mind of Christ, these things come into balance.

Recently, I was offered a seminary scholarship to travel to Israel, and I had less than 24 hours to accept the scholarship. While I wanted to accept the trip, I had to consider that I would be leaving my wife and nine-month-old daughter, I had to get time off work, it was the middle of the semester, etc. My wife wanted me to go, and so did my mother, but my father said, “That part of the world is not safe. You need to do what is best for your family.” I accepted the scholarship, but was still uneasy about it for about a week. Over the next week, I had more time to listen. Without prompting from me, I heard testimony from several men about how they had to learn to trust God with their families. I realized that if I could not trust God to take care of my family for two weeks, then how was I trusting Him for my daughter’s salvation, or to take care of them any other time? My father had spoken like Caiaphas the high priest (John 11:49-52). The best thing I could do for my family was to trust God, and go.

Regarding prayer, my discipline of prayer will change as a result of reading this chapter. For most of my Christian life I have worked towards spending consistent extended time in prayer. I have often worked up to spending an hour each day, but that has been difficult, actually impossible, to maintain. After a while, I have said all that needs to be said. My praise of thanksgiving to God is the same as it was three days ago.  I am not going to intentionally sin just so that I have something to confess in prayer. Eventually, in order to fill my time, my petition list becomes so long that it is a burden. I was tired when I was done, and I no longer enjoyed prayer. Therein was my problem. I was not trying to pray for an hour; I was trying to talk for an hour. I like to talk, but I don’t even preach for an hour! My listening time was relegated to the first few minutes at the beginning and the end. Many years ago, I added meditation (listening) to my Bible study and reading, but why I did not make it an integral part of my prayer life, I just do not know. I can probably speak my heart to God in anywhere from one to fifteen minutes. How refreshing will it be to listen, instead of trying to come up with something to say?!

My reflections as I read through SoulShift by Steve DeNeff and David Drury.

©2011 Paul Tillman

Leave a Reply