March 15, 2019
The Gentle Whisper of God
Friend to Friend
It is totally true that we have to learn to get still and quiet in order to hear from God. This is why God tells us in the Psalms:
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10
I love the story of Elijah the prophet who is waiting to hear from God about the man who will replace him and carry on the ministry. (Elijah’s story is found in 1 King 19.)
Elijah asks God to speak to him. Elijah goes through a great storm – but God does not speak in the storm. He experiences an earthquake – but God does speak in the earthquake. He sees a great fire – but again, God does not speak in the fire. Elijah finally hears God in a still, small voice – in a gentle whisper.
God will use a 2 x 4 to get our attention when nothing else works. But He prefers to get our attention through a still, small voice. We must learn to get quiet in order to hear the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit.
If you have established a daily time with God, you have no doubt discovered the reality that the minute your body gets still, your mind and heart kick into high gear. Your mind brings up all the things you have to do, while your heart reminds you of all the things you are worried or concerned about. One of the challenges of being still is dealing with these issues.
Within the Quaker faith, there is a great deal of teaching about the concept of “centering down.” It is a way of dealing with the mind’s desire when we get still to push us towards reflection and thinking. The point of what I call “chair time” or time alone with God is not to reflect and think – but to clear your mind and heart so you can hear from God.
I have developed my own practice out of what I have learned from the Quakers. I call it “spinning off.” Here is how it works for me. The minute I try to get still, my mind (my intellect) kicks into gear and reminds me of all kinds of things:
What is still on my “to do” list?
What do I need to get done tomorrow?
What did I forgot to do today?
What about the bills that I still need to pay?
Is there enough money in our bank account to pay those bills?
The heart (my emotions) does the same thing. The minute I get still, my emotions take over and bring to mind:
That recent hurt or loss
Anything I am worried about
My friends who are struggling
How tired I am
How depressed I am
How frustrated I am
What is happening between the mind and the heart is actually counter productive. You are trying to get still to hear from God. And yet your mind and heart are racing ahead, not wanting to sit still at all.
This is where spinning out comes into play. Picture yourself trying to center down – trying to get to the place where your body, your mind, and your heart are still so you can hear from God. I start out by praying, “Jesus – I want to hear from You today. Help me to center down. Help me to spin off any distractions that come to mind.”
Then, as I get still, something will pop into my head or my heart. I think about it for a moment, make a plan to deal with it later, and then spin it off. I literally picture it leaving my mind or my heart and spinning away. When the next worry or thought or hurt comes, I do the same thing.
I often think through phrases like these to help me spin off:
“I can’t fix that right now – I will deal with it later.”
“I am concerned about that – but God, I trust You with it.”
“I do need to get that done – but not right now.”
“I do need some time to process that – but that is for another day.”
My experience is that when I learn to practice centering down by spinning off the thoughts from my head and the feelings from my heart, I get still enough and quiet enough to hear that still, small voice of God.
Father God, I want to grow in my faith. I know I need to spend quality time with You each day. Please help me learn how to center down. Teach me how to be still and quiet before You, entertaining no thoughts or feelings that would keep me from hearing Your voice. Lord, I know You long to spend time with me. Thank You for loving me. I come into Your presence with praise!
In Jesus’ name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Why do you think Jesus often went away alone to pray? Determine a place where you can spend time alone with God in prayer. Now make a plan and the commitment to do so.
More from the Girlfriends
Need help? Today’s devotion is an excerpt from Chair Time, an E-Book written by Mary’s husband, Dan who says: “We have over-complicated prayer! In its purest form, it is talking with and listening to God. Most of us have the talking part down. The listening part – not so much.”