FR. MARTIN: ...It's usually the most clarifying way for people to start to think about a relationship with God. The idea is that a friendship is an analog, with a relationship with God. So, for example,what makes a good friendship? What is required? Well, time, for example. You know, you would scarcely say, I'm good friends with this person and never spend any time one-on-one with him or her.A lot to think about in this part of the interview! We hear the song "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," it's common to talk about Jesus being your friend. But these paragraphs go deeper than a passing reference. It gives us a lot of questions to ponder.
Well, what about your relationship with God? Do you spend one-on-one time with God? Is there time? How about honesty? You know what happens if you're not honest in a friendship. Well, it starts to grow cold or formal or very distant. Same with God. If we're not honest in prayer about what we feel about our struggles, our anger, our sorrows, our relationship gets very cold and distant. How about listening? If you had a friend that all you did was talk at, that wouldn't be a very deep friendship. Can you listen to God's voice in your daily life and in your prayer?
So, this is an insight from Father William Barry, who's a Jesuit in New England. And it's been very helpful for me. And it really helps people, because it really gets their spiritual life kind of back on track. Can you relate to God in a similar way that you relate to a friend? You know, time, honesty, openness, silence. Are you comfortable with silence? Does your friend have to call you...every day and say I like you?
How do you spend time with God? What do you find is an effective method or routine for you?
"How about honesty? You know what happens if you're not honest in a friendship. Well, it starts to grow cold or formal or very distant. Same with God. If we're not honest in prayer about what we feel about our struggles, our anger, our sorrows, our relationship gets very cold and distant."
I don't have too hard a time being honest with God. I can sometimes be an "over-sharer" with people (ever notice? :)) but with God there is no such thing as over-sharing. How about you? Do you ever find yourself being dishonest with God? Maybe not telling the whole truth?
"How about listening? If you had a friend that all you did was talk at, that wouldn't be a very deep friendship. Can you listen to God's voice in your daily life and in your prayer?"
I've always found the concept of listening to God a difficult one. We don't - or at least I don't - hear God's voice speaking directly to me. We can use the Scriptures, and I think that's the main way God speaks to us. I've written before about how sometimes thoughts occur and recur to me and it seems like that may be a way God is speaking to me (in a "still, small voice").
Yesterday I received an email that hurt my feelings and now, looking back on it, I think God spoke to me as I was working through that. At first I wrote to the others this person had cc-ed and expressed how discouraged it made me feel. Then I sat and stewed about it, thinking of all the many things I wanted to say to this person but knowing they'd just sound defensive and as if I were making excuses. I forwarded the email to Randy and he was very encouraging and supportive. Then I googled "verses for discouragement" and found quite a few, That helped, and was one way God was speaking to me. Finally, as I continued to think about what the email had said and was able to be more calm about it, I admitted to myself the parts where there was truth, and moved on to deciding on an action I would take in response. That, to me, felt like God working in me -- maybe not "speaking," but as I listened to my heart, I think I was listening to God.
Now I'm listening to God telling me to forgive the person. Still working on that part.
How about you? How do you hear God?
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