A few years ago, I wrote about developing some practical skills for learning to listen for God. Here’s one of those skills.
1. Learn to remove yourself from distractions as much as it is up to you. Jesus regularly went into the hills in order to talk with God. That practice may be worth developing.
Practice: For ten minutes, go into a room away from other people. If you need to, turn on white noise to block out the sound of the TV in the other room. Take a piece of paper and write down the projects and to do things that come to mind. Note anything you are afraid you might be missing.
You are developing your capacity to stay attentive for quiet voices and gentle suggestions. Going away from people can make some of us twitchy. That’s because it stretches the muscles that control our fear of missing out and our desire to please people. It stretches the muscles that reach for noise to fill the uncertainty in our hearts.
For me, this exercise is hard. Not because I’m afraid of quiet. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy it. But my ears are trained to attend to human sounds. I listen for someone who might need me. I listen for trouble. I listen for stories, for conversations. In silence, my ears strain for these sounds.
It comes from being a pleaser. It comes from not wanting to get in trouble. It comes from not wanting to get caught reading when I should be cleaning, writing when I should be doing real work, multi-tasking when I should be mono-tasking, resting when I should be working.
But what if resting is the goal? What if tending my heart is the most important thing I can do for anyone and everyone at the moment? What if I’m not a ten-year-old any more?
So the tension I feel in silence is important to work out.