A characterization of my life as one of listening and Yours as one of speaking is not a new concept, but it certainly is a key concept to spiritual growth. It seems most certainly essential to the contemplative style of life.
In the commerce of the marketplace we tend to be far more interested in putting forth our own thoughts and ideas than in listening to those of others. Why, then, might we think it so easy to shut off this proclivity when it comes to listening to Your voice? I think, as I grow older, one of the things I’m learning in this regard is that there is a direct correlation between my ability to listen to others and my ability to listen to You. This may carry with it the surprising discovery that contemplation begins with that attitude with which I approach other people.
Talking stands in direct opposition to the ability to receive. The whole idea of prayer is elevated when we become receivers rather than transmitters. Unity, empathy, synchronicity, and harmony, I believe, are only achievable when we are receivers – when we listen, ideally, in silence. If our minds and mouths are simultaneously engaged we stonewall anyone or anything else. Transmission is a vehicle of the self and the self always opposes oneness with another.
I find, much to my discomfort, the continual need to consider and reconsider vocal prayer as a viable medium for union with You. People ask me and I ask others for prayers. I pray vocally for others, for myself, and for Your kingdom to come and that Your will may be done. Somehow I think You want to hear these prayers like we need to occasionally hear the words, “I love you,” from people we already know love us. I can identify with the need to be asked for help by those we love. I think, likewise, that it pleases You to be asked for help by those You love. Our vocal prayer to You is based on our dependency – a dependency which seeks to fashion itself into love. At this juncture, between our vocal prayer and our efforts to perfect our love comes listening. This listening generates, deep within, contemplation, and this is why contemplation in silence is so sweet. But I think it rests in large measure upon the dependency we need to express in our vocal prayer.
Our spiritual primary education is based largely on vocal prayer and it is with this as a foundation that we move into the secondary levels of meditation and mental prayer which, in turn, are fundamental to the higher wisdom involved in contemplation. This evolution from outward to more inward forms of prayer characterizes my own growth in our relationship – a growth in silently listening for Your voice in the people and events around me each day. Such listening draws me closer to You.