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Advent: Listening to God

Michael Munson

In this busy season we want to encourage you to slow down and create space to focus on the reality that God is with us. In this article, Michael Munson helps us to check our hearts.

As we are using the tools we’ve talked about over the last three weeks, the simple steps of; Stop, Breathe, Listen, and Rest, I trust that many of us have heard God speaking. This may be in your imagination, in your feelings, or experiencing him around you in creation as the Psalmist describes nature pointing us to him, or perhaps in moments of silence as Elijah did in the cave. 

This week we remember the faith and courage of the mother of Jesus, who heard God’s direction and with curiosity but no hesitation accepted the call. Think about the last few weeks as we again go through the simple steps to help us slow down and create space in our lives for God to speak, or should we say, space in our lives to listen to the God who is speaking. 

Take stock and look for where the Spirit is calling, and explore your response. When we listen, yes we are primarily listening for God, but we also pay attention to our responses, resistances, joys, feelings of life or dread, they all tell us something. And as we are able to name them, and bring them to the Lord and again listen, we may find the wisdom of our God entering those places, we will hear invitations, and find hope. 

So let’s again go through the steps of our simple tool. Nothing magical, just a way to help us disconnect from distractions, and point our whole beings towards our Loving God. 

Step 1: Stop

  • Wherever you are, just stop for a moment. Close your eyes for just a few extra seconds. Maybe you need to sit, maybe you need to find a space away from the computer or the TV, either way just pause what you are doing. Stop the movement of your body. 

Step 2: Breathe

  • This goes hand in hand with stopping. When we stop our physical bodies it can feel as if our emotions or our minds go racing. Actually they are probably always going that fast we are just now noticing. 
  • Now breathe, deeply in, and slowly out. Start to draw your mind, your imagination towards Jesus. Maybe thinking about the story of his birth, or the promise of him in Isaiah, or the angel’s visit to Mary. It could be something from your own life, a memory of God being with you. 
  • Breathe deeply in, and slowly out. Keep doing this throughout as you think of it. 

Step 3: Listen

  • Always the hardest part. You’ve stopped your body, you are slowing down your emotions with your breathing, your mind might be slowing too. Though this is a time to listen, a prayer may rise to your lips. It might start as a feeling. Put words to it. Keep it simple, one sentence if you can. 
  • Pray it in your heart, or out loud up to you. Just once, then listen. 
  • If you get distracted, pray it again, and stop, breathe, listen. 

Step 4: Rest

  • You have heard from God. It might be a fun memory of Christmases past. It might be a hope for the future. It could be a song lyric on your mind, or a reassurance of life. But rest assured it will be a way that you can understand. Sometimes we need practice noticing his voice, and it may take doing this a handful of times to realise you are hearing God. 
  • Either way, rest. Breathe again, you can point prayers of thanks back to God if you’d like. Maybe you just want to smile and stare out the window and look at his creation in gratitude. It’s up to you. But give yourself just a bit longer than you feel is necessary to rest. 

Whatever this day holds, there is grace to stop, breathe, listen and rest in our Lord, as he is Immanuel, God with us, no matter the atmosphere we find ourselves in.

If you are looking for more resources during advent, last year we released weekly advent videos with some spiritual exercises to help you journey through the season. We will be re-sharing those across social media and they are available for you to use however is helpful to you.

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