Quick but Slow Slow
James 1:19 ESV
I John 1:5 ESV
Psalm 100:5 ESV
From the Jar
Years ago I took a series of classes in listening prayer. They weren’t part of my formal education. I took the classes after college and before Seminary. They were great classes because we had time to practice learning to listen to God.
Practice is the important operative word here.
I practiced listening.
At the same time I read everything I could find on listening to God.
I highly recommend, Can You Hear Me? Tuning in to the God Who Speaks by Brad Jersak for practical purposes. I would also recommend Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God by Dallas Willard if you want to read advanced material.
I know I say this a lot, but my Spiritual Director helped me learn to listen. He reminded me frequently that when I’m trying to listen to someone and I want to hear it well, I need to cut out the background noise.
Turn off the television and the radio.
Sit in silence.
In James 1:19 we read, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”
Just prior to this section of scripture James had a lot to say about temptation. In his warning about temptation he is not talking about being tempted by God.
God does not tempt his children. Being tempted comes by way of being tricked. God has no intention (ever) of tricking His children. Only Satan tempts by way of evil means. Satan does intend to trick us into believing we are not God’s Precious chosen children.
God may test us to see if we are ready to move forward. God never tests us for evil means. It’s not in God’s nature to do anything evil. We are told in I John 1:5, “God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.”
Psalm 100:5 tells us, “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.”
In addition to God shining His light on us and being good to us, God is patient and gives us time to be ready to move forward.
In my life, I’ve found that there have been times when I think I am ready for the next step but I am not always as ready as I think. God knows that. If I get impatient and I ask God to move forward, God will test me and show me if I am not ready yet.
God always intends good for me and for you!
When it comes to being quick to hear we need to know we are not focused on ourselves. We are focused on hearing the other person.
Listen to God in the same way you listen to others.
When you want to hear God, focus on God. Sit and wait. Listen.
Being slow to speak also focuses beyond yourself. You want to make sure the person you are speaking with can hear and understand you.
When you speak to God be clear. Do not ramble on and on. Slow your speech down a bit. That’s not because other people and God need you to speak slowly. It’s because we need to clearly state our intent. When we are praying and we go to God and we think we are asking for an apple but we also happened to mention a pear and a cucumber, we may be confusing the request. If you want an apple, ask for an apple.
Be clear about what you are saying.
Both of those lead to the final advice James gives in verse 19.
James advises that we need to be slow to anger.
This is a tough statement that I struggle with. That’s not because I have anger issues. I struggle because if James is talking about being slow to anger with another person it makes sense. That would mean he’s saying “don’t fly off at the handle”. Think about it and hold your temper.
But I this section of scripture James is also talking about how we interact with God.
It’s been my experience that when I’m upset and anxious about something and I’m being totally honest about it, I can be totally honest with God. If I’m upset I tell God. If I’m confused I tell God.
I’m don’t think James is saying don’t be angry with God.
I think he’s saying we need to give God a chance to help. Trust God.
Give God time.
I’ve learned that God is seldom early but He’s never late.
In the first half of my life I had to learn to ask and wait…and to give God time.
Remember, our deal with God is a relationship.
Trust God to provide what you need.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Trust
Tell God what you need and be clear. Then wait and trust God for the answer. Listen to what God says.
In God, Deborah