The kids are down for nap and rest time. It’s 2pm and I haven’t had much time to be still since my oldest woke me at 6:30 to separate a couple of stuck Lego pieces. If I’m not careful, I’ll spend this precious time catching up on email and doing dishes. Today I am careful. I put water on to boil and collect a few supplies to carry to the front porch for a moment of listening: my journal, a travel set of watercolors, my Bible, and a book. Today, as it often is, the book is The Listening Day.
My friend Paul J. Pastor has now released two volumes of this wonderful book, a record of his own time listening to God. The books are slim and easy to carry. Paul’s words are honest, artful, theological and poetic. The Listening Day inspires me on two levels: I love the wisdom Paul offers, and I’m inspired to do my own listening.
Paul has generously offered an excerpt of his book here, along with a reflection and invitation into listening. Even better, I have three copies of The Listening Day to give away. (Details below.)
An excerpt from The Listening Day, Volume 2, by Paul J. Pastor:
O Lord, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our potter;
we are all the work of your hand.
Isaiah 64:8 (NRSV)
THE REAL QUESTION
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
Psalm 139:14 (NRSV)
The real question is this:
how can you believe I am who I say I am
if you will not believe that I made a good thing,
a very good thing,
a wonderful thing—
a fearfully wonderful thing—
with my own hand,
in my own image,
from my own life,
when I made you?
Father, forgive me for disbelieving your good work. Let me see myself as you see me—not ignoring my sin or flawed nature, but seeing beyond it to your true and good image that you created and redeemed in me through your Son and Spirit. Amen.
A reflection and invitation into listening:
The Listening Day is just my published practice of the ancient devotional method of lectio divina (Listening Day, Lectio Divina…yeah. You get it). The goal of lectio is simple: to use a short bit of scripture to initiate prayer and conversation with God. Traditionally, the three steps of read, ponder, and pray guide us.
We read a text (in The Listening Day, two related verses) with careful attention. I try to notice what is strange or surprising—something that challenges my way of thinking or living, or undoes a lie or half-truth that I’ve believed. As I read, I listen—asking God to show me what’s supposed to stand out to me today. Reading the Bible becomes a two-way invitation. God invites us to listen, we invite him to speak.
This naturally transitions into an opportunity to ponder the text. I allow it to simply sit with me. I allow my mind to go where it needs to, even if it feels like it’s wandering. There’s no wrong way to do this—even distractions that arise can be given straight to God as part of a healthy process.
Then, I simply pray. I try to keep this short and to the point. I talk to God about what I have read and pondered, and ask him to help me live and understand the way of Jesus in a new way.
What sets The Listening Day a little apart from classic lectio is that I’m writing it down and sharing my own practice. It’s a bit raw and honest, but I’ve heard from many readers that it has inspired them to their own practice of conversation with God through reading, pondering, and prayer.
This is becoming a transformative discipline for me. If you’re interested, try it with the two verses below. If you feel like it, share what comes out of your time with a friend!
I love the Lord, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live. Psalm 116:1-2 NIV
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14 NIV
If you would like a chance to win a free copy of The Listening Day, Volume 2, do one of the following by Monday, November 20:
- Comment on this post with what it looks like for you to set aside time to listen to God.
- Share this post on Facebook. Tag @kristenleighkludt and @pauljpastorauthor so we can enter you in the lottery!
- Follow @agoodwaythrough and @pauljpastor on Instagram and tag two friends in the post.
Paul J. Pastor is a writer living in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge. His writing on Christian spirituality has won numerous awards and critical recognition for its beauty, insight, and biblical depth. With a M.A. in Biblical and Theological Studies from Western Seminary, Paul brings his passionate style to life as a frequent speaker at churches and universities. Paul and his wife Emily serve as Deacons of Spiritual Formation at Theophilus Church in Portland, Oregon.