A powerful, thought-provoking insight....

Give me a well-trained tongue that has been borne out of silent listening in the sanctuary of my heart.

~ sevensacredpauses by Macrina Wiederkehr

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Grace of Listening

I've been pondering all the different ways God pours grace upon grace into my life. The grace of prayer, that very ability we have to share with God all of our joys, our woes, our needs and have those prayers answered is an indescribably awesome grace. As I have continued to ponder prayer, I've realized that the ability to listen, to be open to spiritually hear and take in the ways God answers my prayers is yet another grace. A grace to which I can add a ripple or two. When I actively listen to another person who needs to talk, that is God's grace in action. The other person probably doesn't even equate the conversation to prayer, yet that is, indeed, what it is. That conversation is lifted up as a prayer by the grace of God involved in helping me to listen. When I am the one who needs to talk, to share a burden, seek reconciliation, then I receive the grace of God through the attentive listening of a friend. My burdens, my hopes for reconciliation are lifted to God as a prayer through the grace of listening. What makes listening such a grace? It is simply the intent to listen with an ear cocked both toward our friend and toward God. Oftentimes, I pray for God to help me be the answers to my own prayers and to those prayers I share with others. Doing so opens me and my life to be the arms, shoulders, hands, and ears of God, and opens me and my life to God's incredible, awesome grace.

Another grace . . . openness. If we each began to stress spiritual listening and openness in our lives, in our relationships, imagine the changes. Our relationships would strengthen, mature, come alive in their possibilities. Come alive to radical availability. Openness and radical availability are cornerstones of ministry, and ministry is all about relationships. As Disciples of Christ, we all consider ourselves ministers. As Christians, we are the body of Christ and in that relationship with Christ and each other, we engage the world through the grace in our lives. When we act out of that grace to help others, we model for them what it means to be open, be available to Christ and the grace God so abundantly pours out. If we take the time to explore the ways in which we receive grace, acting in openness and with radical availability, we will see many opportunities for sharing that grace, being that Body.

We are beginning a prayer partner program here at First Christian Church of Decatur to help spiritually support the caregivers in our midst. As a part of the program, we are offering the participants a workshop in which we will explore spiritual listening and the development of spiritual friendships. I'm truly excited at the thought of ripples of grace spreading outward from our little group of listening, praying folks. Just how far can those ripples spread?

Be encouraged to seek that place of grace within which is full of joy and relationship!

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