Listening to God’s delicate voice requires me to invite Him along in all the small tasks of my day. After all, He doesn’t go where He isn’t wanted.
By Gabby Bean
9 July 2020
Growing up, my parents taught me that prayer is essential in growing closer to God and developing a spiritual life. Until I started becoming more independent in my faith, my prayers consisted of requests for blessings for my family members and help with whatever I was struggling with at the time. “Please bless my mama and papa and help me learn fractions. Amen.” And I would frequently revert back to saying any prayer I had memorized, such as the Our Father or Hail Mary to suffice as my nightly or morning prayers. Sometimes I had a specific intention, and sometimes I just wanted to speak to God.
As I continued to take my faith into my own hands and learn about God, I began to see an important aspect of prayer I was lacking: the listening part. My mind raced with thoughts, problems, and ideas the second I found a moment of silence. Prayer after Communion involved my noisy brain pouring out my difficulties rather than an open heart inviting the Lord inside. This was my reality for most of my life until I found a way to facilitate the transition from loud requests to silent listening. Because the 15 to 20 minutes I set aside each day for prayer never felt fulfilling or beneficial to me, I began inviting God on my runs, daily chores, phone calls, and other ordinary tasks throughout the day. I invited Him to use that time to speak to me, to plant something in my heart.
Inviting God In
Now whenever I walk outside to water my garden, instead of allowing the small moment of silence during my day to be overpowered by the daunting tasks ahead and dwelling on moments from the past, I take a deep breath and say to the Lord, “Do you want to come with me as I water my garden?” as I would say to a friend.
When I first started doing this little exercise, I noticed that during the task, my thoughts frequently snapped back to God and my faith. Soon, these mundane chores became a quiet moment of prayer. As I watered the little seeds sprouting from the dirt, I asked the Lord to give my soul the nutrients to grow in love for Him. I asked Jesus to help me sow seeds of virtue and cultivate His beauty in my daily life.
I was given the opportunity to reflect on what I feed my soul with, and to realize that I repeatedly choose temporary substitutes, when my soul craves our Lord, Jesus Christ, for sustenance. Many thoughts still swarm my conscience, but these thoughts and ideas are more productive and focused on something that truly matters: my faith. Inviting God into these moments of silence in my day helps me to avoid dwelling on events that have already taken place, or dreading the future. The best parts of my day are when I can say “Right here and now, I am with the Lord, and He is with me. That is all.”
Another benefit I have found to this basic exercise is assistance in distinguishing my own thoughts from messages from the Lord. I might decide to make myself a sandwich, and, because I’ve been practicing, I’ll remember to invite Jesus along with me. As I’m spreading peanut butter and thinking about our Lord, feeling His presence, or striving to hear His voice, I can see myself making multiple sandwiches. I am inspired. And the perfunctory task of making a sandwich for myself becomes the perfunctory and loving task of making lunch for my little brothers as well.
“Do Small Things With Great Love”
Jesus inspires me to perform tiny acts of kindness, miniscule acts of service. Making a sandwich for someone else doesn’t seem like the work of our Lord, but as Mother Teresa said, “Do small things with great love”.
I believe God is calling me to focus on the small tasks, the little things at home, before tackling the big problems of the world. And I understand this only because I asked Him to join me, because I have taken the time to invite him along for the ride. He doesn’t go where He isn’t welcome. But when we make a home for Him in our hearts, when we make the effort to put out a welcome mat and send the invitation, He will always arrive, every time. He will transform the places where He is present. But the transformation won’t always be grand, dramatic, and obvious gestures.
In 1 Kings 19:11-13, God’s voice is described not as the great wind, the earthquake, or the fire, but as “a still, small voice”. His voice is small; therefore, your heart must be quiet enough to hear Him. But His voice is also strong, so you must be prepared to take up your cross and follow Him when He calls.
Photo Credit: Deacon Frederick Bartels. All rights reserved.
I am a high school senior striving for sainthood and learning how to live out God’s unique plan for my life. I live in a big family in a small town in New Hampshire, and I will always be a New Englander at heart. I enjoy reading Jane Austen, writing anything, and spending time with my family and friends.