intimate conversational relationship with Jesus.
But, what do we listen for?
Henri Nouwen (pictured in photo) is immensely helpful at this point. “The real "work" of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me."
The starting point for all of life and ministry is learning to listen to God. And, the starting point for listening is learning to hear the "good things" Papa has to say to me and about me each day. Many of us grew up in homes that had more critique than affirmation. More criticism than blessing. And, those words of criticism are what our "ears" are attuned to. Our hearing must be retrained one day at a time to hear the "good things" that our heavenly Father wants to say to us.
Implications for church? Huge! This should be a community where we together are "listening to the voice of the one who says good things" about the others in the family.
One place you can deepen your ability to hear the Lord in this way is in a learning community called The Foundations Course. For more on this, go here http://storiesfromtherevolution.blogspot.com/2011/09/foundations-course.html
And, for more from Henri Nouwen, see below...
To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing-- that demands real effort.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World
Fr. Henri Nouwen was born in the Netherlands, where he was ordained to the priesthood and earned his doctorate in psychology. After nearly two decades of teaching at the Menninger Clinic in Kansas and at the Universities of Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard, he left to share his life with mentally handicapped people at the L'Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada. He is the author of many books on spirituality and psychology, including The Return of the Prodigal Son, In the Name of Jesus, and The Life of the Beloved.
"The Life of the Beloved"
I would like to speak to you about the spiritual life as the life of the beloved. As a member of a community of people with mental disabilities, I have learned a lot from people with disabilities about what it means to be the beloved. Let me start by telling you that many of the people that I live with hear voices that tell them that they are no good, that they are a problem, that they are a burden, that they are a failure. They hear a voice that keeps saying, "If you want to be loved, you had better prove that you are worth loving. You must show it."
But what I would like to say is that the spiritual life is a life in which you gradually learn to listen to a voice that says something else, that says, "You are the beloved and on you my favor rests."
You are the beloved and on you my favor rests.
Jesus heard that voice. He heard that voice when He came out of the Jordan River. I want you to hear that voice, too. It is a very important voice that says, "You are my beloved son; you are my beloved daughter. I love you with an everlasting love. I have molded you together in the depths of the earth. I have knitted you in your mother's womb. I've written your name in the palm of my hand and I hold you safe in the shade of my embrace. I hold you. You belong to Me and I belong to you. You are safe where I am. Don't be afraid. Trust that you are the beloved. That is who you truly are."
I want you to hear that voice. It is not a very loud voice because it is an intimate voice. It comes from a very deep place. It is soft and gentle. I want you to gradually hear that voice. We both have to hear that voice and to claim for ourselves that that voice speaks the truth, our truth. It tells us who we are. That is where the spiritual life starts -- by claiming the voice that calls us the beloved.