During the early months of the pandemic shutdown, I found myself at loose ends and looking for things to keep me busy. A good friend suggested the perfect project – compiling my blog posts from the past six years into a book! And so after months of gathering and editing, I’m so pleased to debut my newly published book: Hearing God’s Whisper: Discovering the Sacred in Ordinary Moments.
If you’ve been a faithful reader of my blog since the beginning, many of these reflections will be familiar to you, but they are now presented in one book to add to your collection of spiritual reading… and with a gorgeous cover designed by my niece, Rosie! I’ve arranged my reflections around various themes: Seeking God, Listening to God, Resting in God, Trusting God, God’s Love, Letting Go, and Everyday Spirituality. The book also includes my five-part original “Allegory of Five Gardens” as well as seasonal reflections for Lent, Easter, Advent, and Christmas. It closes with a series of prayers and poems for everyday moments.
The essays and reflections can be read in any order, and many of them have questions for reflection or activities to invite you into a deeper relationship with God. My hope is in some small way, the words in this book will give you new eyes to see the beauty of God’s creation, new ears to listen for God’s whispers, and a new outlook to experience the transforming power of God’s love.
If you’re interested, you can order the book here. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you’re done reading!
A few years ago I went on a weekend retreat with my college roommate. We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, and we were both so excited to reconnect and catch up. In the days leading up to the retreat, we planned out our late night chats, making lists of topics we needed to discuss. Knowing it would probably be another few years before we were together again, we didn’t want to leave anything out.
It made me think about the ways in which this kind of deep and close connection resembled my relationship with God. I have a dear friend who says: “I talk to God all the time, about any little thing.” It sounds so simple and inviting…and easy. Just talk to God. In doing this we are sharing our lives with God. Sometimes we feel God inviting us into relationship. Other times, we invite God in. It’s a give and take that changes based on our everyday experiences of our faith.
In the words of David L. Fleming, SJ, “Prayer is a natural outcome of this close relationship. It is not something mysterious or esoteric or something that we learn how to do in school. Prayer is conversation. If we can talk, we can pray. Of course we can learn to pray better, just as we can learn to be better conversationalists. The essential activity of prayer springs naturally from our humanity. It is a matter of conversing with a very good friend.”
If you’re looking to improve your “conversation skills” with God, I would recommend the following three steps:
Be yourself! Don’t try to take on a formal “persona” or a particular voice when talking to God. Just talk in a way that feels comfortable to you. I gave the example of the easy flow of conversation with my college roommate because that’s exactly how you should talk to God. Make a list of topics if that’s helpful. Share with God what’s on your mind and in your heart, knowing that God loves you and is waiting to hear from you!
Talk to God about everything. For the longest time I struggled with the idea that God cared about my ordinary life. I pictured God brushing aside my trivial problems or my “silly” worries. God had far more important things to do than to listen to my humdrum stories. I eventually realized this couldn’t be further from the truth! God cares about EVERYTHING we do, think, wonder, doubt, and fear. There is truly nothing that we can’t bring to God.
Examine the areas of your life that you tend to hold back from God. Ask yourself why you do this. Is there a particular hurt or wound that you haven’t been able to bring to God? Are you hiding from God for fear of being rejected? Ponder the gift of God’s unconditional love and mercy. There is no such thing as being rejected by God. Open up your heart to God and see what happens.
In his book, Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer, Max Lucado puts it so beautifully:
“God will teach you to pray. We speak, He listens. He speaks, we listen. This is prayer in its purest form. God changes His people through such moments.”
Talking to God in conversation will help you grow in your faith. It will help you feel more connected to God. When you create a habit of talking to God, you’ll hear God answering you. You’ll be inspired to take action in living out your faith. You will always have a place of deep truth to turn to during difficult times.
I encourage you to spend some time this week talking to God just like you would talk to a close friend. Do this every day for a few weeks and see how your relationship with God changes. Return to this blog post and share your experience in the comments section below!