Today’s Word: ‘Listen’ as in… Mother Teresa’s method of praying.
Some of us were talking together about the purposes and methods of prayer in worship. Sometimes the prayers are spontaneous, verbal responses to what we’ve experienced. At other times, prayers are well-crafted and thoughtful, resembling polished poetry.
I was reminded of the now legendary story of an interview with Dan Rather and Mother Teresa. Rather, an American journalist and former national evening news anchor, asked Mother Teresa about her particular practice of prayer in her life.
Now let’s just pause there for a moment and let that sink in. That’s a great question to ask Mother Teresa. For those who may remember this larger-than-life woman who barely fit into her 5-foot frame, it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to think that her conversations with God could easily have gone on for hours, or, perhaps days.
“What do you say to God when you pray?” Rather asked her. She was thoughtful for a moment, and then answered quietly, “I don’t talk, I simply listen.” After a briefly awkward moment, Rather pivoted, “Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?”
At that moment right there, I imagine the entire audience very subtly leaning forward, holding its breath, awaiting Mother Teresa’s reply to this even better question.
Mother Teresa smiled, and said, “He doesn’t talk either. He listens.”
What goes on when you pray? Do you talk? Is there a list? Do you have a list of agenda items for God to deal with? Does God have a list for you? Do you listen? No judgement on any of that; we all enter into transactions with God from time to time.
But what if the next time you sat quietly to pray, you took a few deep breaths, closed your eyes, and just listened in silence? No words. Scripture characterizes God’s voice as still, small; even a gentle whisper like the wind, a breeze. What if the next time you prayed, you simply said, “I’m here.” and then listened? I suspect God would do the same thing.