“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” —Matthew 11:28–30
We can learn to listen to Jesus by placing ourselves in the stories found in Scripture. This is a foundational part of experiencing prayer as a living dialogue with God.
In my life, I have discovered the intimacy of dialoguing with God.
My wife was going through a difficult period while we were missionaries in Africa, and I sought ways to encourage her. Being an analytical type person, I was not very good at encouraging her. I had a habit of making rational comments that were more criticism than encouragement. I remember one morning devotional time, after having a dialogue with God, when I simply asked Jesus for words of encouragement for my dear wife. I figured that the Lord would know my wife better than I did and would know how to encourage her in this difficult time. I wrote down the words that came to my heart.
Later in the day, I shared those words with my wife, who was much more encouraged than in my previous attempts. My intimacy with Christ led me to a closer intimacy with my wife. I have continued to develop this joyful dialoguing with Jesus to this day. It has brought many fruits to my life and ministry for which I am so grateful to God.
In my case, I learned to dialogue with the Lord first as a response to a need. What are your needs as you read this today? I propose four possible pathways to dialogue with God: rest, love, forgiveness, and action, each needed at different times in our lives. Which pathway(s) would you like to walk with Jesus this week?
Rest: The text of Matthew 11 invites us to realize that when we are tired or concerned, a first step can be to find rest in Jesus’ presence. A good way to practice that is to realize that Jesus is close to you (see Matt. 28:20). Ask Him for encouraging Scriptures to guide you to find rest.
Love: In our past, some of us have pictured God as a demanding taskmaster. That trait does not represent our loving God, who is also our Heavenly Father. Jesus presented God to us as a loving Father, and He can lead us to His Father’s love. Sometimes we need to simply sense His love and rest in His wonderful presence.
Forgiveness: If we sense that we have missed the mark and struggle to accept that there is hope, we can read the story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. After reading the story, we can imagine we are the prodigal son returning with a desire to change. From there, let us listen to how the Father speaks to our hearts so that we can ask for and receive His wonderful forgiveness.
Action: If you need guidance in a specific situation, bring that situation to the Lord. Ask the Lord how He sees the situation. Then spend time in silence, letting impressions come to your heart and listening for His voice.
Stéphane Tibi is a missionary serving as Regional Education Coordinator in Eurasia.
Written for Coffee Break.