Pastor's Pondering


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Lifestyle Worship and Active Listening Prayer

by Sean Estler on March 28, 2019

Deuteronomy 6:4-6 says, “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart.” I have been reminded over the course of a few weeks now of something that I would like to share about this passage in particular.


Most commentaries by Jewish Rabbis talk about the listening that Israel had to do and how even today, we must practice listening prayers. This practice of listening in the Jewish faith is often traced back to Jacob drawing his sons to himself and blessing them on his death bed. I was convicted when I learned this and again when I was reminded of this in these past weeks. I do not listen to God. I often throw prayers at Him, hoping that they reach His ears, but I rarely sit in the stillness and silence to hear His still small voice. Chalk it up to choosing the busy life or the American culture, whatever I want to blame, I now realize I need to own my responsibility in this relationship with God and I cannot blame societal trends for my misdeeds. If I do not hear and follow through by listening and applying myself to align with the word and the voice of God, I am practicing sin. It was not simply hearing that the ancient Jewish writers were concerned with. Some commentaries mention that Jacob's sons would respond. It is very similar to the call and response of the high church of today. And not only that but several Jewish traditions still practice this call and response. This signals to me that listening is an active and responsive task. We cannot sit simply to wait for God to cut into reality to speak directly to us. He has already done that through the Scriptures, and through the incarnation.


If we were to be honest with ourselves, Deuteronomy 6 is a convicting passage. Maybe for some, you rarely read the Old Testament and for others that do maybe you do not want to do the leg work to understand the situations that the Israelites were in. I do not do this often or without reverence, but I would urge you to read yourself into the Old Testament. It might look something like this:


"Listen up, Church! Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah is God, your God. He is of the same nature as God, the Father who sent Him and the Holy Spirit that empowered Him, raised Him from the dead, and resides within you! He alone is the only one with authority and power in the heavenly realm. I command you to love Him with your deep gut emotions. I command you to love Him with your inner most being. I command you to love Him with everything that you do and say. Yes, everything! Now these words that give to you must be instilled upon your heart, lest you forget who you are or even worse who He is."


Church, you are the beloved bride of Christ. Now respond in lifestyle worship and active listening prayer like that means something!