I am walking through 40 days of meeting God first thing in the morning for 40 minutes. Today marks day 15. Last week I shared how these 40 minutes each day are changing my day for the better. This week was the first week I missed a day. I have been fighting off a cold and well- I slept in a bit longer. I share that so that if you’re still thinking about joining me, or if you haven’t because you are worried about missing a day, you feel encouraged. I am a firm believer that God does not desire our perfection but our progress and our presence. If you can’t commit to 40 minutes, try 5 or 10, or whatever feels doable. God will be pleased with your progress and presence.
During my 40 minutes, I use the acronym SLOW, and break it down in to 4 different words that represent a section of time. I try and shoot for 10 minutes a section, however most days, it doesn’t stay that nicely divided. The words that represent each section are:
Still– more than a physical position, stillness is a condition of the heart and mind.
Listen– we all hear him differently. But we won’t hear him at all if we don’t actively practice hearing him.
Obey– actions steps which lead to a richer, deeper, more meaningful relationship
Wait and Watch– This is two fold process that begins in prayer time but extends into daily life.
For the next few weeks of Lent I’ll be elaborating on how I use them and what they mean. So picking back up after I finish the first section, Still, I move on to is Listen.
I was raised in a Friends Church, which is a branch of the Quaker church. Our service was much like any other traditional, small church service. We had a pastor who delivered a sermon. We sang hymns to either a piano or organ or both. But one of the unique aspects of the Quaker church is their Silent Worship portion of the service. During this time, the congregation sits in silence awaiting the Holy Spirit to lead them. Often times members rise and share something with the congregation. Other times no one speaks. But each individual is invited and encourage to sit with God and “center” on him, listening to what the Holy Spirit may be leading or stirring with in them.
As a child this time was confusing and frustrating to me, but as I got older, I loved to hear others testimonies, and encouraging words of what God was doing in their life. I don’t currently attend a home church that includes this type of worship however I include it in my daily prayer time.
As I still my heart, mind, and body I then move into a time of listening.
All believers see and hear the Holy Spirit move differently in their life. The way I may hear him speak may be very different from the way you hear him. That’s okay.
Listening however, is not a passive process but an active one.
During this time I wait to hear from the Lord. Sometimes he may provide guidance for me in an area I have been asking for prayer, sometimes it is something he presses upon my heart to take action on or to surrender, or someone to pray for. And sometimes it’s a sin I need to confess, a behavior I need to change.
Listening takes time. It is a long process. Eugene Peterson, calls this process “long obedience in the same direction”. Rarely do I present a request to God and get an immediate response. Often times, his spirit leads to a verse or book, or a conversation which leads to prayer, which leads back to particular passage. A long process, but one worth while.
This week in your own prayer time, whether following 40 in 40 or not, I would encourage you to try the process of listening, as an active one.
Next week, I will share more about the third step in SLOW acronym, Obey.
If you have joined me I’d love to hear how it’s going for you. If you missed a day (or two, or three) don’t beat yourself up. Remember, God doesn’t desire our perfection but our progress and presence.
If you would like to join me for 40 for 40: Forty minutes for Forty Days, you are not too late. You can start today. No need to sign up or fill anything out. Simply commit to meeting with the Lord for the next 25 days, for 40 minutes (or whatever you can commit to) each day.