In a recent blog, “The value of listening”, I explored the importance of developing good listening skills as a precursor to relationship building. I also explored the use of prayer to entertain God’s presence in such a fashion that our communication with God might be more than just a monologue but rather an opportunity to enter into a discussion with God.
God often speaks to us through His Word. In fact he often answers our questions through His Word. The importance of Scripture in our prayer life, therefore, cannot be underestimated.
Jesus himself in the Parable of the Sower [Luke 8: 4-15] explained how people respond to the Word of God at different times in their lives by using the analogy of seed as the Word of God and how the sown seed fared. Some seed fell on the path but the devil intervenes and removes the Word from the hearts of the listeners. The seed that fell on the rocky ground describes those who hear the Word with joy but fail to allow the roots to establish and turn away from the Word when life gets difficult. Other seed falls among the thorns describing those who hear the Word and for a time treasure it but allow the World and its distractions to intervene which causes the Word to be ineffective in their lives. Some seed though fell on rich soil describing those who embraced the Word and through perseverance allowed the Word to transform them.
I remember years ago reading this scripture and failing to understand that it may well speak to each of us at different times in our lives. We all struggle with the need to be attentive to God in the various ways he communicates with us and God’s Word is no exception.
Developing the habit of reading scripture each day is a good way to insure that the Word lands on rich soil. As a Catholic Christian, I am able to follow the daily Mass readings which I am told exposes me to most of the scripture over a 3 year period. I also use a scripture aid “The Word among us” [wau.org] which has a daily reflection based on one of the scriptures of the day which I find to be really helpful. The old testament reading for today [Jonah 4: 1-11] features a reluctant and angry Jonah confronting God over His decision to spare the Ninevites from what Jonah obviously thought was their “just dessert” for the dark, violent and brutal way they treated their neighbors. God however relented after the Ninevites repented. One of the nuggets to be gleaned out of this scripture reading is that God, who is all loving and slow to anger, is interested much more in “makeovers” than he is in punishment. As the reflection of the day from “The Word Among Us” noted, God believed in the people of Nineveh and was determined to assist them in a “makeover”. In the same way, God recognizes the potential of each of us even when we don’t believe in ourselves. We need only to humbly acknowledge our weaknesses and our dependence on God for the “makeover” to begin.
It is by exposing ourselves to God’s Word on a regular basis that we assist the development of our relationship with our God by becoming good listeners. Who knows what we might hear once we begin to listen.