Monday, August 14, 2006

Voices in our heads and from our hearts

Disclaimer - I'm not a prayer warrior. Effective prayers and long hours on my knees aren't my forte. And I am not going to be sharing any great secrets or insight here. But if you've ever had God answer back you know the joy of hearing his voice. That joy makes me want to share, but I realize that not everyone is comfortable hearing about prayer and voices from God. So if that will upset you please don't read any further. I promise not to be offended if you help me to not offend you by going elsewhere. Ok...disclaimer finished.

Sometimes, hearing voices in our heads isn't a good thing. That being said, God speaks to those who listen. And he listens when we answer back.

When Martin spoke of that still small voice I knew just what he was talking about. Many faithful people do. It means we are listening. We listen with our hearts, not our ears. We are hoping to hear from God. Sometimes we do. And when we answer back, we speak with our hearts, minds, voices and sometimes our bodies. God listens to them all.

We are also supposed to listen with our minds. When God speaks to me I am supposed to use discernment to know that it really is God who is speaking and not my own emotions. Sometimes this isn't hard to do. His voice has a distinct feel and flavor. The message I hear is usually in-line with the things I know of God from scripture. Seldom has he spoken in a way that didn't have multiple consequences. His words and meaning spread out from the primary message like the rings one gets from a pebble dropped in a pool of still water. Sometimes, however, I want to hear his voice so much and want something so bad that I can create my own voice and that is when it is hard. When I want a good result based on what I want, and not on what God has in mind, then I can find myself hearing a voice and not knowing for sure if it is God. I know enough about scripture to make the message logical. When that happens, even my efforts at discernment fail. Hopefully yours are better.

Does God's voice sound the same every time you hear it? It doesn't to me. His voice takes many forms. So I guess it seems normal to me to speak back in more than one way.

When we talk to God we use many different voices. These voices come from our heads, our hearts, our guts (especially when they ache), our needs, our wants, and hopefully our joys. Scripture talks about tongues and also about a special language that only the indwelling spirit and God understand. But tongues mean voices as well as language and it is as natural to sing our prayers as to weep them or rant at the heavens. I've even had a friend tell me of visualizing your prayer and just sending the picture heavenward.

A few years back I sang my prayers. This was during the 80's when Praise songs were so popular. I think they still are but they have moved into a different genre. Those songs can be sung repetitiously and that is very conducive to meditating on the message they are giving which is usually very simple. It would be me in the car, on a trip, and singing songs of praise while I drove. After a while, I'd get so in touch with the spirit that the need for formal song would stop and I'd start singing whatever my heart felt like saying to God, and using what ever melody popped into my head. It was a kind of free form song and never had any real verses, although once God did give me a praise song. That was a form of exultation in the joy of life in the spirit.

Last Lenten season my church held a "come pray with us" series of classes which taught different forms of prayer. We had contemplative prayer, lectia divino (please forgive any misspellings), prayer of the senses, and guided imagery. All of it was wonderful and I learned a lot in each class. During that period they opened the labyrinth (maze for those who call it that) and we even did some Christian yoga one evening.

For me motion is akin to prayer and, because I love music, dance is often the form it takes. When the rhythm and flow of the melody invades my being, my body becomes a conduit for the expression of life. The beat is my heart beat and my breath. The flow of the melody is my motion; arms, feet, and body taking flight as I express what I feel in a very focused and yet totally free form.

So do I think I can dance? LOL Not really. I never got a lot of training so my form and style are definitely amateur. But when I start to move to music which excites me it doesn't matter. It is sheer exultation and self expression. It is thanking God for life. And I'm okay with that.

If you have a favorite form of prayer or an answer story I hope you will share it.

Peace, Hope, and Joy!


Susan Palwick said...

I use motion as prayer, too; I pray when I swim, with different mantras for different strokes.

And God has answered my prayers in many forms: through dreams, through other people, through my own work, through my cats.

Sometimes I think that everything we can perceive is either an answer to prayer or an exhortation to further work . . . if only we know how to interpret it.

Lee said...

Wow, you must really love the water. I wish I could claim the same meditative joy in that element but I've had a few too many scary experiences in water to find myself meditating while swimming. I do float in the bathtub though. (g) And I can sing while jogging slowly if I am in any decent kind of shape.

I think we all walk unique pathways and every conversation with God is different because we are different. That is part of what I find so amazing about Him. He can be so constant and still be just right for each and everyone of us. It makes me wonder why people try to define God in such narrow terms.

For me, the lessons I learn in dealing with life are like lights. Once they are "on" life gets a little easier. LOL Gotta say, I don't get too many exhortations. I get urgings and nudges. And I'm grateful for that. After my upbringing, where there was no joy to be found when hard work got you to the end of a job, it delights me no end that God is leading me gently down that path. His very gentleness tells me how important it will be and how much I will have to do. Also how important my attitude will be. It just occurred to me that he probably wants happy laborers just as he wants cheerful givers. Don't know why it took me so long to realize that. Did I ever mention that I can be a little slow on the uptake? (g)