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“Being ‘All Ear’ for God”

Since Lent is a season of reengaging spiritual disciplines to cultivate listening hearts, I thought I’d share with you these compelling words from Henri Nouwen in his little book, Making All Things New:


From all that I said about our worried, over-filled lives, it is clear that we are usually surrounded by so much inner and outer noise that it is hard to truly hear our God when he is speaking to us. We have often become deaf, unable to know when God calls us and unable to understand in which direction he calls us. Thus our lives have become absurd. In the word absurd we find the Latin word surdus, which means “deaf.” A spiritual life requires discipline because we need to learn to listen to God, who constantly speaks but whom we seldom hear.


When, however, we learn to listen, our lives become obedient lives. The word obedient comes from the Latin word audire, which means “listening.” A spiritual discipline is necessary in order to move slowly from an absurd to an obedient life, from a life filled with noisy worries to a life in which there is some free inner space where we can listen to our God and follow his guidance. Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to his voice, always alert for his directions. Jesus was “all ear.” That is true prayer: being all ear for God. The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.


A spiritual discipline, therefore, is the concentrated effort to create some inner and outer space in our lives, where this obedience can be practiced. Through a spiritual discipline we prevent the world from filling our lives to such an extent that there is no place left to listen.


As we read chapters 7 and 8 in Mark this week, we come across the story of Jesus healing a deaf man by putting his fingers in the man’s ears, looking up to heaven, sighing, and declaring, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened (Mark 7:31-37). When you come to Jesus this Lent, ask him to do the same to you, that you also might become “all ear for God.”


Your Pastor in Christ,


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