Monday 21 March: Lent 2011

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You are encouraged to pray the prayer, pause, read the scripture, pause, read the reflection, and then pray the prayer again.

The Breastplate Prayer

May the yoke of the Law of God be upon this shoulder,
The coming of the Holy Spirit be on this head,
The sign of Christ be on this forehead,
The hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears,
The smelling of the Holy Spirit in this nose.
The vision that the people of heaven have be in these eyes,
The speech of the people of heaven in this mouth,
The work of the Church of God in these hands
The good of God and of neighbour in these feet.
May God dwell in this heart,
And this person belong entirely to God the Father.

‘May the hearing of the Holy Spirit be in these ears’

1 John 1:1-3

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

We might think of listening to God as being something we do internally, as a mental, intuitive or imaginative exercise. Not so.

The writer to the Hebrews testifies to God’s untiring desire to communicate with human beings. ‘In the past God spoke,’ he says, ‘in many and various ways. But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son … the exact representation of God’s being.’

Our prayer today pledges not our eyes for reading but our ears for hearing.

The Scriptures are something to be read with the mouth and heard by the ears. Even when reading alone, believers of previous generations would speak the sacred words aloud. Sacred reading is not done inwardly in the head. We think of silent reading as being cleverer because it is faster. However, the goal of reading Scripture is not to be fast but to let the Scriptures sink deep in our memory and awareness.

Our ears heard what our mouths speak. Our mouth speak what our eyes read. Our eyes read what the hands of others have written. The hands of scribes copied what Apostles had reported. Apostles reported what their ears had heard, their eyes had seen and their hands had touched – as John  reminds us in his letter.

Our prayer is to hear when the Spirit of God is speaking, not to the world nor the Church, but him alone.

Stand up: the Lord wishes to speak with you.


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