In her book, Experiencing God’s Tremendous Love, Sr. Maureen Conroy describes four dynamics of relational prayer: looking, sharing, listening, and responding.
Today’s first Mass reading from the First Book of Kings, one I love, speaks to the third of those: listening. Listening is the one that I think needs special emphasis, because we too often fill our prayer with our desires and with our agenda, without given God a chance to speak to us. We forget sometimes that prayer also means giving God a chance to get a word in edgewise. We need under grace, to listen to God with our whole being. We need to pause, to linger, to wait for God to speak to us.
Today’s first reading reading reminds us that while God sometimes reveals himself to us in dramatic, almost visible ways, that is typically not the norm for us. Rather, God more often seems to speak to us in the quiet whisperings of our heart. God tells Elijah to go outside and on the mountain and God will be passing by. And Elijah discovers God not in the strong heavy wind, not in the earthquake or in the fire, but rather, as the scripture reads: “After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak” knowing it was God.
We need to allow ourselves the quiet and stillness to hear God no matter how softly God speaks to us. We want to let God speak from God’s heart. We thus come to know that mind of God. Our relationship with God becomes more intimate as we hear God’s desire to be close to us. We become more attentive to God’s ways and thoughts. We “put on the mind of Christ.”