Wednesday, September 5, 2012

SHUT UP!--Linden Malki

              Recently I was listening to a Christian radio call-in question and answer program, when a caller asked why God never answered his prayers. Asked for particulars, he said that he had asked God for things that would be easy for Him to just snap His fingers and do, but they didn't happen that way, and he couldn't figure out why not. We too often define prayer as "talking to God". I found myself wanting to say, "Do you ever just shut up and listen?"

Silence is a hard thing to learn. We have a tendency to talk too much. A long-time friend of ours, a successful salesman, told me once that silence is one of the most powerful tools in negotiating. When we stop talking, it unnerves the other person and they very often talk too much or make admissions just to fill the silence. I have had argumentative inlaws, and figured out that the best way of dealing with them was to say what I had to say as shortly and simply as possible, and then shut up. Often I would hear them weeks later using my point with someone else. I eventually learned to simply shut up and pray for the removal of the imp of Satan that was spewing nonsense into their ear. There is no other way to deal with some conversations! And some long-standing estrangements were eventually healed.

God Himself used that on me at one time. There was a situation in my own family that was very painful, and I was being a total pest, asking God to fix it. I finally got one of the several totally unmistakeable answers God has given me: "Shut up, lady, I will handle it!" So I did, and He did, on His own schedule. And I just recently found out that it was the person who was the major instigator of the problem who, without warning one day, had said what needed to be said to unravel the whole thing.

Silence in prayer can be learned. There is "silent prayer" that is simply us talking, just not out loud. Silent prayer that is truly listening is different. We sometimes get discouraged because when we stop talking and try to listen, all sorts of stuff runs through our brains. As a first step, we can take those things, hand them off to God, and wipe our mental walls clean, ready for God to write on. I have recently learned to use silence to give God space to fill; for Him to supply each word, one at a time. It works praying aloud, or as a meditation of my own. Some of us were at a retreat several years ago where we were given a Scripture passage and sent out into the woods individually for more than an hour of silent meditiation and prayer. The idea was scarier than the process; the time went faster than we anticipated, and I think we all grew in the process.

God speaks to us through His Word, through prayer, and through people. We need to quiet our minds and hearts and listen.

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