In a conversation, what’s more important than talking? That’s what a conversation is, right? Talking to each other. Wrong. A conversation includes talking, yes, but you can’t have a real conversation if both people aren’t listening. If one of them isn’t listening, then you just have one person talking to themselves and inviting someone else to experience it.
Prayer is the same way, because prayer is a conversation with God. And we know that God listens to us when we speak, but it should work both ways. Are we listening when He speaks?
Today’s verses are 1 Kings 19:11-13.
“Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And a voice said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
I am actually composing this devotional in the Rose Garden at Glen Eyrie, one of my favorite places in the world. I don’t believe in magic, but if there were such a thing, the Glen would be full of it. Something about this place—when you walk on the grounds it makes you want to be quiet. It makes you want to remember how to be still and listen. It makes you want to slow down because if you rush by you might miss something miraculous.
In fact, I was just sitting on this bench, and I heard a strange buzzing sound. Too soft to be a motor, too low to be a bug. I didn’t know what it was until I saw one of the dew covered leaves flatten out with the weight of a hummingbird. Yeah, it’s not often you can sit working on a laptop and watch hummingbirds sipping dew off rose petals.
It’s so easy to be busy. It’s so easy to be loud. It’s so easy to run around frantically and get so focused on everything that’s happening today or tomorrow or what happened yesterday and how it will effect today and tomorrow. But if we’re so busy running around, how do we expect to hear what God wants to tell us? If we’re too busy to read scripture, how can we expect Him to communicate with us? I mean, yes, God finds ways to communicate with us, but His primary means of speaking is through the Bible.
Everyone needs to quiet down, otherwise we’re just talking and expecting God to talk to us without us having to listen to what He’s saying. Maybe His answer isn’t what you want, but you can’t say He hasn’t answered.
God can answer in wind and fire. He can answer in earthquakes and thunderstorms. He absolutely can. He’s God. He can do what He wants. But that’s not how He works. That’s not how He communicates. Even with Elijah, He didn’t speak in some awe-inspiring judgment-day type of experience. He spoke in a still, small voice.
That still, small voice is still small today. And if we’re running too fast, we’re going to miss it. If we’re talking too loud, we’ll talk over Him.
I know it’s hard to slow down. I know it’s hard to be still. Trust me, I understand how difficult it is to prioritize. But what matters?
Be quiet. Be still. Listen. He’s speaking. He speaks every moment of every day. Sometimes through Scripture. Sometimes through nature. Sometimes through the Spirit. Sometimes through other believers. But He never stops speaking.
Are you being still enough to hear?