Listen: Praying in a Noisy World

Listen: Praying in a Noisy World

by Abingdon Press
     
 

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We live in a world of noise. Everywhere we go, we hear sounds that compete for our minds and hearts. Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to shut out the chaos around us and focus our thoughts.

Listen, by Rueben P. Job, is a 40-day experience created to offer help to those new to prayer, those with a daily prayer routine, and those whose lives

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Overview

We live in a world of noise. Everywhere we go, we hear sounds that compete for our minds and hearts. Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to shut out the chaos around us and focus our thoughts.

Listen, by Rueben P. Job, is a 40-day experience created to offer help to those new to prayer, those with a daily prayer routine, and those whose lives seem too busy to pray. With a focus on listening prayer and prayer as a two-way conversation, the experience will assist individuals and groups in building and deepening a personal prayer practice and spiritual discernment.

As we learn to listen, we find a new depth and fulfillment in our relationship with God and a new experience of God as guide and companion in our lives. The daily prayer pattern includes an invitation, silence, Bible reading, a story, guided time for reflecting and listening, and practical help for developing six specific prayer practices.

Listen is perfect for use by individuals, small groups, or congregations during Lent, Easter, or any time of year.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426780745
Publisher:
Abingdon Press
Publication date:
01/07/2014
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,432,187
Product dimensions:
4.90(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.30(d)

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Listen Praying in a Noisy World


By Rueben P. Job

Abingdon Press

Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4267-8074-5



CHAPTER 1

Week 1

This Is My Son, Listen to Him

Daily Prayer Pattern


Prayer of Presence

Holy God
of unconditional love
and unlimited presence,
I come to make myself fully available
to you, your will, and your way.

Speak to me gently and clearly,
for I am yours
and desire to hear, understand,
and be obedient
to your slightest whisper.
Speak, for I am listening.


Silence

Now is the time to incorporate the week's focal prayer practice of sitting in silence. Wait in silence as you invite the Spirit's guidance to form your prayers and shape your life. Quiet your soul before God for several minutes, extending the time a little more each day if possible.

Scripture

Monday
Mark 1:9-13
Tuesday
Matthew 17:1-6
Wednesday Mark 9:1-8
Thursday Isaiah 1:16-18
Friday
Luke 9:28-35
Saturday John 8:31-38
Sunday 2 Peter 1:16-21


Turn to the Daily Scriptures section to read the day's text from the Common English Bible.


Reading

On the first day of your week, read the story found in the Weekly Reading section. Pay attention to the details of the story and the main truth it contains. Look for ways in which the story on the page relates to the story of your life.

On each day following, recall the story and consider any new insights or applications. You also may choose to read and reflect on the quotations interspersed throughout Week 1.


Dialogue and Discovery

What is the Scripture passage saying to me today?

Can I accept and apply this message to myself? To my world?

How will this message change my life?

What is the reading revealing to me today?

What messages does the reading call forth from my own story?

What direction, guidance, or wisdom am I hearing and sensing?

What actions are being suggested as my response?


Reflection

Insights and Thoughts:


Response

Today I will ...


Prayers of Petition

For the world, its leaders, and its people For those whose lives touch mine today

For myself and those placed in my care

The prayer Jesus taught us


Blessing

God of love and compassion, grant me grace to walk in companionship with you this day so that I may hear and respond to your call and walk in faithfulness and peace this day and always.


The Lord's Prayer

The Prayer That Jesus Taught Us

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.


Daily Scriptures


Monday Mark 1:9-13

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness."

At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

* * *

Tuesday Matthew 17:1-6

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain. He was transformed in front of them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.

Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, "Lord, it's good that we're here. If you want, I'll make three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

While he was still speaking, look, a bright cloud overshadowed them. A voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son whom I dearly love. I am very pleased with him. Listen to him!" Hearing this, the disciples fell on their faces, filled with awe.


Christians at their best are good listeners, and the Christian church, when most faithful, is a listening community. To live with God in this world that God loves requires some intense and intentional listing. So many competing voices are calling for our attention that without concentrated effort and determination we may easily miss what God is saying to us. We may even miss the way and will into which God is trying to lead us.

Rueben P. Job, A Guide to Spiritual Discernment

* * *

Wednesday Mark 9:1-8

Jesus continued, "I assure you that some standing here won't die before they see God's kingdom arrive in power."

Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and brought them to the top of a very high mountain where they were alone. He was transformed in front of them, and his clothes were amazingly bright, brighter than if they had been bleached white. Elijah and Moses appeared and were talking with Jesus. Peter reacted to all of this by saying to Jesus, "Rabbi, it's good that we're here. Let's make three shrines—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." He said this because he didn't know how to respond, for the three of them were terrified.

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice spoke from the cloud, "This is my Son, whom I dearly love. Listen to him!" Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.


* * *

Thursday Isaiah 1:16-18

Wash! Be clean!
Remove your ugly deeds from my sight.
Put an end to such evil;
learn to do good.
Seek justice:
help the oppressed;
defend the orphan;
plead for the widow.

Come now, and let's settle this,
says the Lord.
Though your sins are like scarlet,
they will be white as snow.
If they are red as crimson,
they will become like wool.

* * *

Friday Luke 9:28-35

About eight days after Jesus said these things, he took Peter, John, and James, and went up on a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed and his clothes flashed white like lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, were talking with him. They were clothed with heavenly splendor and spoke about Jesus' departure, which he would achieve in Jerusalem. Peter and those with him were almost overcome by sleep, but they managed to stay awake and saw his glory as well as the two men with him.

As the two men were about to leave Jesus, Peter said to him, "Master, it's good that we're here. We should construct three shrines: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah"—but he didn't know what he was saying. Peter was still speaking when a cloud overshadowed them. As they entered the cloud, they were overcome with awe.

Then a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son, my chosen one. Listen to him!"


Theological reflection is reflecting on the painful and joyful realities of every day with the mind of Jesus and thereby raising human consciousness to the knowledge of God's gentle guidance. This is a hard discipline, since God's presence is often a hidden presence, a presence that needs to be discovered. The loud, boisterous noises of the world make us deaf to the soft, gentle, and loving voice of God.

Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus

* * *

Saturday John 8:31-38

Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."

They responded, "We are Abraham's children; we've never been anyone's slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?"

Jesus answered, "I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin. A slave isn't a permanent member of the household, but a son is. Therefore, if the Son makes you free, you really will be free. I know that you are Abraham's children, yet you want to kill me because you don't welcome my teaching. I'm telling you what I've seen when I am with the Father, but you are doing what you've heard from your father."

* * *

Sunday 2 Peter 1:16-21

We didn't repeat crafty myths when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Quite the contrary, we witnessed his majesty with our own eyes. He received honor and glory from God the Father when a voice came to him from the magnificent glory, saying, "This is my dearly loved Son, with whom I am well-pleased." We ourselves heard this voice from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. In addition, we have a most reliable prophetic word, and you would do well to pay attention to it, just as you would to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Most important, you must know that no prophecy of scripture represents the prophet's own understanding of things, because no prophecy ever came by human will. Instead, men and women led by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.


Weekly Reading

As a child I loved to spend warm summer days playing near where a freshwater spring brought cool water to a deep and long ravine surrounded by gently rising tall hills. While our dog, my constant companion, was hunting for frogs, I was exploring red-winged blackbird nests and tiny minnows that washed in with the spring snow melt, enjoying the cool water on my bare feet.

Of course, I had no watch, and now and then I would be lost in the mystery of that inviting space and miss my mother's call to the evening meal. If I was paying attention, I could usually hear her call even though our house was about a quarter of a mile away. But when I was not paying attention or listening for her voice, especially if the wind was blowing, there were times when I missed her call.

A follow-up to her call was to send one of my older brothers to bring me home. Their disappointment and displeasure at having to walk partway to get a wayward younger brother for the evening meal was often clearly expressed as we walked to the house, and I soon learned the high price of not listening and paying attention to a very important voice. It is easy to get focused on any number of things and miss out on hearing the most important voice we will ever hear.

Today it is very hard to hear the gentle voice of God in the loud and noisy culture in which we live. Sometimes we all need help, not only to listen but also to hear. The good news is that there is help available. The simple habit of following the rhythm of prayer that we are using as we live out these forty days of discovery can open our lives to the wonderful and surprising conversation that God seeks to have with each of us.

The truth is that sometimes we need help to hear.


Once when I was responsible for my grandchild's bedtime and naptime, I discovered a practice that almost guaranteed a successful time of rest. When I held him with his head near my heart, he always became quiet and relaxed. We figured out that the earliest memories he had were of his mother's heartbeat. When everything else seemed frightening, the rhythm of my heartbeat gave him confidence, comfort, and peaceful rest.

Today, how do we intend to hear the heartbeat of God? What will we do to make it possible for us to hear God's comforting, peacegiving, and guiding voice?

Rueben P. Job

* * *

Prayer Practice

Releasing Our Fears, Needs, and Hopes

Bringing our fears, needs, and hopes to God in prayer helps us to establish intimacy with God and hear God's voice. Yet releasing our uncertainties to God's care often does not come easily. As we grow to trust God's love and presence, we find this practice to be easier.

As a child, I was cradled in my father's lap during a long and serious illness. It was then that I learned that love overcomes fear and offers hope, even in difficult and frightening times. Nearly eighty years later, I know with confidence that the reality of God's love and promise to never forsake us provides these same gifts.

This week you are encouraged to practice releasing your fears, needs, and hopes into God's care. As you do, invite the Spirit to reassure you of God's love and presence. If anxious thoughts return, take them to God as soon as you are conscious of them and give thanks for God's faithful presence, love, and care. Do this as often as necessary, and you will find that your fears subside as your confidence in God's faithfulness grows.


Whenever I feel my foot slipping, your faithful love steadies me, Lord. When my anxieties multiply, your comforting calms me down.

Psalm 94:18-19

To live without prayer is to live without God, to live without a soul.

Abraham J. Heschel, Between God and Man

CHAPTER 2

Week 2

Pray Like This

Daily Prayer Pattern


Prayer of Presence

Each day this week, begin your time of prayer with the practice of releasing your fears, needs, and hopes to God. Use this prayer to acknowledge God's presence and love, and then follow the prompt to surrender your concerns to God.


Loving God,

Who understands before I form my prayer,
Who hears when I call and translates my humble words
into beautiful hymns of gratitude and praise
And responds to my uncertain cry for help
with assurance, peace, and palpable presence,

Here I am as fully in your presence
as I am able to be,
Offering my fears, my needs, my hopes,
my love, and my life,
For I am yours and belong to no other.


At this time, name your fears, needs, and hopes, entrusting them to God's care. As you give your concerns to God, give thanks for God's constant and unfailing love and presence. Visualize God's loving arms enfolding you.


Silence

Wait in silence as you invite the Spirit's guidance to form your prayers and shape your life. Allow the exterior noises and voices to be silenced as you focus on the interior voice of God.

Scripture

Monday
Luke 11:1-10
Tuesday
Job 22: 21-30
Wednesday Mark 6:37-44
Thursday Matthew 6:7-15
Friday
Psalm 46:1-7
Saturday Mark 14:32-38
Sunday
John 17:20-24


Turn to the Daily Scriptures section to read the day's text from the Common English Bible.


Reading

On the first day of your week, read the story found in the Weekly Reading section. Pay attention to the details of the story and the main truth it contains. Look for ways in which the story on the page relates to the story of your life.

On each day following, recall the story and consider any new insights or applications. You also may choose to read and reflect on the quotations interspersed throughout Week 2.


Dialogue and Discovery

What is the Scripture passage saying to me today?

Can I accept and apply this message to myself? To my world?

How will this message change my life?

What is the reading revealing to me today?

What messages does the reading call forth from my own story?

What direction, guidance, or wisdom am I hearing and sensing?

What actions are being suggested as my response?


Reflection

Insights and thoughts:


Response

Today I will ...


Prayers of Petition

For the world, its leaders, and its people

For those whose lives touch mine today

For myself and those placed in my care

The prayer Jesus taught us


Blessing

I will accept and cherish my relationship as a beloved and loving child of God as I live a life of prayer in God's presence today.


Jesus teaches us that prayer is fundamentally a loving listening to God as he continually communicates his love to us at each movement. We pray when we are attentive to the presence of God.

When we lift our hearts and minds to God's communicating presence, God does not begin and then cease to enter into this loving self-giving. His Son, Jesus, realized in his prayer that his Father surrounded him at every moment of his earthly existence with his Spirit. He opened himself to receive that "invasion" of his Father's goodness by yielding actively to whatever the Father was asking of him in each moment. Thus, Jesus prayed always in whatever he was engaged in doing.

Prayer, for Jesus, was not an activity in which he engaged before he did something else. It was a permanent, ever-increasing state of being turned inwardly toward the Father at every moment in loving trust and self-surrender. Prayer became synonymous with loving surrender based on childlike trust.

George A. Maloney, In Jesus We Trust


Listen, my people, to my teaching; tilt your ears toward the words of my mouth.

Psalm 78:1


Daily Scriptures

Monday Luke 11:1-10

Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

Jesus told them, "When you pray, say:

'Father, uphold the holiness of your name.
Bring in your kingdom.
Give us the bread we need for today.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who has wronged us.
And don't lead us into temptation.'"


He also said to them, "Imagine that one of you has a friend and you go to that friend in the middle of the night. Imagine saying, 'Friend, loan me three loaves of bread because a friend of mine on a journey has arrived and I have nothing to set before him.' Imagine further that he answers from within the house, 'Don't bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can't get up to give you anything.' I assure you, even if he wouldn't get up and help because of his friendship, he will get up and give his friend whatever he needs because of his friend's brashness. And I tell you: Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. Everyone who asks, receives. Whoever seeks, finds. To everyone who knocks, the door is opened."

Perhaps the most startling thought that can inhabit the human imagination is that a man or a woman, earthbound and stuttering, can speak meaningfully to God.

Ben Campbell Johnson, GodSpeech


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Listen Praying in a Noisy World by Rueben P. Job. Copyright © 2014 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Rueben P. Job was a United Methodist bishop, pastor and acclaimed author and served as World Editor of The Upper Room publishing program. Best-known for the classic book, Three Simple Rules: A Wesleyan Way of Life, he also authored or co-authored A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants, A Wesley Spiritual Reader, Living Fully, Dying Well, and co-edited Finding Our Way: Love and Law in the United Methodist Church. Bishop Job also chaired the Hymnal Revision Committee that developed the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal.

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