When I am finished with the ACT part of my routine, I open up God’s word and use the Divine Office as a reading guide. It’s fitting (and satisfies my love for order and balance) that this is at the center of my prayer time. I’ve focused on the Lord, His glory, His names and His attributes; I have examined my conscience and asked the Lord to search my heart and show me any areas I need to address with Him, and I have spent time remembering His acts of mercy and kindness to me. Now, I can take time to listen for His response. I love the cadence of the liturgy of the hours, and the way that OT and NT dovetail together to paint a multi-dimensional picture of the gospel. While listening to and reading Sacred Scripture is a necessary part of hearing and obeying the will of God, the Apostle James warns us not to be hearers only, but to be “doers” of the Word. How do we do that?
We “become” doers of the Word by applying Scripture to our daily lives; that is, making our walk match what we say we believe about God’s Word. This is, in my opinion, what Paul meant when he said “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9) One Bible version translates this as “put into practice”. I love that phrase, because I know that when I struggle with a new skill, I don’t get better at doing it by just reading about it, or by talking about it, or by assenting to its appropriateness, rightness, or goodness. No, I have never improved a new skill, or new habit, unless I actively participate in developing it, or in a word, practice.
You want a deeper prayer life? Keep on doing it.
Need to forgive that hateful person who wounded you so deeply? Keep on doing it.
Need to be more loving, gentle, faithful, generous, etc.? Keep on doing it.
Paul is instructing us to practice what we learn, and especially if we are going to be telling others what God’s Word says, it is important that our actions match our words.
While you are reading the Scriptures, ask questions, and listen for the answers in your spirit. This is what I use the “Apply” tab for, peeps. This is where I record the things I hear whispered in my Spirit while reading or hearing His word. This is where I make the promises, warnings, and commands of God part of my daily walk. There are six pages in this section, I find it helpful to break it down in simple steps, and to have a place ready for recording. Since this is a brand new habit for me, meaning, I am at the very cusp of learning it and incorporating it, my pages are blank, but not for long.
Is there something worthy of meditating on?
Write it down, think on these things!
Is there a promise to claim?
Write it down, thank God for it and claim it!
Is there a warning to heed?
Write it down, BEWARE! This is a heads up!
Is there a command to obey?
Write it down! Don’t delay, obey!
Is there a bad habit or negative trait to put off or a healthy one to adopt ?
Write it down! Put off – put on…just do it!
Is there a good example to follow or a bad example to avoid?
Write it down! Imitate the good and shun the bad.
(I love words, and am especially tickled at how this looks on paper, “imitate-shun” sounds a whole lot like imitation, doesn’t it?
When I am listening for God’s voice, I might have some praise and worship music still playing, or maybe I will be listening to the Divine Office podcast, or reading the Daily Readings quietly. Whatever it is, I try to listen to what the Lord is saying to my spirit. Sometimes a word or phrase will stand out, sometimes I will be compelled to DO something, or I will be burdened to pray for someone; sometimes I will hear just the words being read or spoken, and nothing really stands out.
I find the latter to be the case often. It used to really bother me, I would wonder “why won’t God speak to me? Is there sin that is separating me from Him? Are my prayers being hindered?” I wasted so much time worrying and fretting over just a simple lapse in conversation. Now when this happens, you know what I do? I thank Him for the silence. It’s in these times that I believe He is content just to BE with me. Really, do you have a friend that you love to talk with? Do you ever have lapses in conversation? Of course! I love the kind of friends that are happy to just hang out with me, even when I don’t have profound things to say. If we have a friend in Jesus (and when I say “if” I really mean “since”), I believe we have these moments, these seasons even, where God is quiet, and desires us to be quiet as well. So now, I thank Him for His presence, and for His love, and if I need to, I will flip back to my Adoration or Thanksgiving tab and review ALL the things I have to be thankful for. I will remember His character, His attributes, and His forgiveness. I will obey what I heard Him say and I will be still and KNOW that He is God, I will praise Him because He is with me, He loves me and He has good things planned for me.