Listening: the art of Pastoral Presence

When I think about our work, I think of the God who listens.  He hears our cries, petitions, longings, and hopes.  In Jesus, we find the Good Shepherd making space for others to share their stories (i.e. Samaritan woman, the blind man at the pool).  We see them share specifics as Jesus asks poignant questions.

When we listen to the stories of others, we entering into a dialogue that is already happening with the person and God.  The Spirit is active, working to heal, save, and renew.  So as the people share, we are being invited into the work of the Spirit in their lives.  

  • Be attentive to the specifics.
  • Notice the words, pictures, thoughts.
  • What feelings are you most present to?  
  • How might the Spirit be stirring?

We learn to listen in silence and solitude.  We can only learn to listen as we take moments throughout the day to be still and know that He is God.  God spoke to Elijah in the silence.  Jesus got away to be with His Father…to listen.  

We can deepen our ability to listen through contemplative prayer—the prayer of active silence.  Try it for a few minutes in the morning.  See how it changes the inner contours.  See how you’re more attentive and able to listen.

In contemplative prayer, we silence the mind and heart of anything that is heavy, burdensome, and release it to the One who can carry it.  We even release all thoughts of good intentions, our gifts, and words so that we might receive the Word.  And it’s in receiving that we can then return to the world with a heart that is able to listen.