Listening to our Language and to the Language of God
Welcome back to this special week on Health Spirituality – the 2016 Spiritual Summer School with the theme of Slowing Down to be with God. I am posting Monday through Friday and then live streaming daily on Facebook Live. You can find me about 1:30 eastern on my Facebook author page with the exception of Friday where I will be broadcasting at 9:30 am eastern. I hope you can join me there too.
Each day here on the blog and on Facebook live, we will explore different aspects of Slowing Down to be with God. So far we have set the stage for slowing down to be with God on Monday and yesterday we began to unpack the word SLOW starting with the letter S. I shared Six Strategies for Slowing Down to be with God.
Today we take the second letter in the word SLOW and explore Listening to our Language and to the language of God. Our words we tell ourselves and the Word of God make a whole difference in how we live.
Listening to our Language
There is an incredible power to our own self-talk. In fact, what we say to ourselves probably influences us much more that what others tell us.
Quite a few years back I attended a conference where the presenter challenged us to listen to our own self-talk and determine how negative or positive it was. I thought he was crazy. What a silly idea, I thought. But I decided to try it and WOW, was I shocked on the amount of negative things I said to myself.
We have a choice and when we pay attention we can change the how we listen to our own language. Research has shown we get out of life what we expect, not just what we want. Often our negative talk reveal quite different expectations from what we may say we want.
How does this relate to slowing down to be with God?
I find myself saying:
I am sooooooooo busy.
I can’t get everything done.
I never have time for God.
Why aren’t I better at consistent praying?
How about you? What do you say to yourself about your time? Your time with God? Your spiritual growth? What does this say about your expectation about slowing down to be with God?
Here are 5 quick tips for slowing down with God through how your listen to yourself:
- Become aware of the language you use. Tune up the volume how your self-talk and become aware of what you are saying. Really listen to yourself. You may even want to write your words down when hear something you say to yourself about time, busyness, being with God.
- Listen for simple but powerful words. Try. Can’t. Never. Michael Hyatt wrote a great blog post called How a shift in our vocabulary can change our attitude and a second one on the difference between try and do. Words make a difference. So stop trying and slow down to be with God.
- Turn the outside noise down so you can hear yourself. We talked yesterday about the practice of silence. We are bombarded with media, music, email chirps, Facebook notifications and other people’s voices. Turn them off and hear your own voice.
- Free writing – I am a big proponent of journaling. Often I discover a new insight about myself as I write things out. Emotions drip from the ink that surprise me. Keeping a journal, rereading it often will bring clarity and help me hear myself and the language I am using.
- Spiritual Direction – talking with a trusted friend and/or spiritual companion can make the difference. When I struggle to say aloud just the right words of what I am sharing with someone, I hear myself in a new way. Many times my spiritual director will say – did you hear that word you used? Is that what you really meant? Why did you use that word and not another?
Learn to use words that are beneficial for slowing down to be with God and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary or helpful.
Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.
Listening to the Language of God
You can hear God’s language through prayer and worship, but one of the most important practices to listen to God is through his Word – the Bible. The practice of Lectio Divina – sacred reading- is a wonderful tool to help us slow down, to dig deeper and to hear God’s word. It is a way of praying the scriptures, lingering in God’s presence through his word.
The practice of Lectio Divina begins with choosing a Bible passage, a verse suggested in a devotional or one offered to you in a blog or by a friend. Then read and reread those word four times.
- The Reading – first read the passage you have before you. Read is slowly. Almost gently – God doesn’t scream; he whispers. He doesn’t grab us; he invites us in. Listen for a word or phrase that resonates in your heart. Allow the words to sink in.
- Meditate – Read the passage again. This time reflect on the words. You might want to repeat that word or phrase that bubbled up in the first reading.
- Response – Read it a third time. Then put all thinking aside and simply talk with God about these words.
- Listen or contemplate – Here we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations and simply rest in the Word of God. Listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice.
The purpose of life is to listen – to yourself, to your neighbor, to your world, and to god, and when the time comes to respond in as helpful a way as you can find…from within and without.
One last tip about lectio divina – you can use this practice visually – Look at nature or a piece of art and take what you are seeing before you through these four steps,
You can also reflect on a life event using these steps. Always, always within God’s love and guidance but think of it a divine reading of your life.
There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sounds of the genuine in yourself.
So the homework today is to listen to yourself and to listen to God. Hear the language that we use and God uses to teach us, form us and slow us down to hear him.
Each day I will share Spiritual Summer School homework: Here is today’s assignment:
- Choose a question from below to talk with God about and listen deeply to where he is guiding you.
- Journal what you think and how you are feeling. Name your emotions as we explore slowing down.
- Don’t forget that each day at 1:30 eastern (Friday at 9:30 am), I will be on Facebook live on my author page, talking about the day’s topic. I hope you can join me live or watch the replay on that same page.
Here is a summary of today’s questions:
What do you say to yourself about your time? Your time with God? Your spiritual growth? What does this say about your expectation about slowing down to be with God?
What words stop you from slowing down?
What simple words could you change that would affect how you slow down?
Write out your time of lectio divina and what insights you gained.
How is God inviting you to slow down to be with him?
Remember, I compiled a workbook about this series with places to write your thoughts, daily homework space, resources and inspirational quotes. You can get this resource by clicking on the button below:
I have two books that may also help you on this journey:
Spiritual Retreats: Slowing Down to be with God. Right now the e-book version is only 99 cents on Amazon
Today we explored the L in the word SLOW; tomorrow will discover O: Outstanding Options for Slowing Down to be with God. Please share with your friends about this series and invited them to Spiritual Summer School. Post this on social media and I would love to hear some comments what you are learning so far. And if you haven’t subscribe to this blog, I invite you to, so you can automatically journey with me as we explore and discover faith practices and inspirational stories of faith.
Let me know below how you like this series so far. What thought has resonated most with you? How do YOU listen to yourself and listen to God?