Silence, Stillness, and Centering before God (2 minutes)
Prayer for Presence
Lord Jesus, in this moment of prayer, free me from the distractions of the day so that I may be deeply present to you and myself, for the sake of the world around me.
The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.- Isaiah 50:5
Isaiah 50 begins with God’s word to the prophet. Isaiah responds by saying, “The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears.” Of course, this is not literal but metaphorical. It’s saying, “God has helped me to hear his word to me.”
How I want to have my “ears” opened by the Lord! I am so aware of how easily I can miss God’s voice as he speaks through Scripture or through the whispers of his Spirit. Even worse, I can sometimes hear my own “voice” and attribute it to God, which is a form of taking the Lord’s name in vain. I know this is both wrong and foolish. When I fail to hear what the Lord says to me, not only do I dishonor him, but I also end up making choices that lead to hardship and pain. God’s ways are always the best, and I want to receive his guidance for how I ought to live my life.
How can I be more attentive to God’s voice? In part, this comes when I have extended time with the Lord in quiet and solitude. But it also happens as I gather with God’s people, where the gifts of the Spirit are active. God speaks through sermons, Bible studies, hymns, songs, and prayers. He makes his voice known through the wise counsel of a friend. When I’m alone, I can hear God’s voice by immersing myself in Scripture, by letting God’s Word inform my mind and transform my heart. I’m listening for the voice of God, so that I might believe and obey.
And obedience is key if I want to hear the Lord. Notice what Isaiah says, “The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious, I have not turned away” (50:5). The prophet’s intention to respond favorably to the Lord, his commitment not to turn from God’s truth, prepared him to hear what God said.
So it is with us, whether we are in a small group, a worship service, or a team meeting at work. If we want to hear from the Lord, we need to offer ourselves to God, ready to hear, ready to obey.
By Mark D. Roberts
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Are you open to hearing God’s voice?
In what settings are you more attentive to God?
Is God saying anything to you today? Even right now?
Do you ever hear from the Lord in the context of your work? If so, what helps you to listen well to his voice?
Gracious God, when I read this verse from Isaiah, I yearn to hear your voice, to have my ears open to you. You know all the things that get in the way of my paying attention to you: the “noise” that surrounds me and the “voices” that echo inside of me. Of course, sometimes I don’t hear you because I just don’t take time to listen. And sometimes I don’t listen because, frankly, I don’t want to obey you. Forgive me!
I’m reminded, Lord, of the hymn I sang as a boy. Its words convey the prayer of my heart today:
Open my ears, that I may hear
voices of truth thou sendest clear;
and while the wave notes fall on my ear,
everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee,
ready, my God, thy will to see.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!*
May I be ready to hear you, dear Lord. Speak to me so that I might believe and obey. Amen.
Space for Reflection (take 2-3 minutes to be silent or write out your thoughts or prayers from the scripture passage or devotional)
The Lord’s Prayer
aOur Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. [And lead us not into temptation,] but deliver us from the evil one.
Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)