Step #1: Lectio / Read
Jeremiah 26:11-16, 24
The priests and prophets said to the princes and to all the people,
“This man deserves death;
he has prophesied against this city,
as you have heard with your own ears.”
Jeremiah gave this answer to the princes and all the people:
“It was the LORD who sent me to prophesy against this house and city
all that you have heard.
Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds;
listen to the voice of the LORD your God,
so that the LORD will repent of the evil with which he threatens you.
As for me, I am in your hands;
do with me what you think good and right.
But mark well: if you put me to death,
it is innocent blood you bring on yourselves,
on this city and its citizens.
For in truth it was the LORD who sent me to you,
to speak all these things for you to hear.”
Thereupon the princes and all the people
said to the priests and the prophets,
“This man does not deserve death;
it is in the name of the LORD, our God, that he speaks to us.”
So Ahikam, son of Shaphan, protected Jeremiah,
so that he was not handed over to the people to be put to death.
Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Words are a funny thing. Most of the time, in my life, I feel like they're a difficult thing. I can't figure out the right word to use, or I say the wrong one and don't even realize it, or I say a word that's really big and someone asks me what it means and I have no idea.
Sometimes, too, I'll say the wrong thing to someone. Being a guy, I don't always realize that what I said might be a bit too harsh for the other person until I've said it. When I see the look on the person's face (often my wife, Sarah, who genuinely listens when I say things) I realize that I probably said that wrong and I immediately begin to walk my words back.
Other times, the difficult words that are said are ones that are directed at me by friends who have my best interest in mind and say something that strikes a little bit too close to home. These friends care about me, and when they realize that there is something I'm struggling with they tell me things I need to hear - I just don't want to hear them. Later, when I have some time to think about things, I'll realize that they were right and I'll thank them - but, oftentimes, I won't do that in the moment.
Today's reading from Jeremiah gives us an example of a pretty similar moment for the people in Jeremiah's time. Jeremiah, a prophet of God, is going around and telling the people hard truths about what will happen to God's people if they continue along the path on which they are currently walking. At the beginning of the reading today, the priests and prophets are trying to convince the people to kill Jeremiah for what he has said. In his response, Jeremiah quite simply reminds them of something they've forgotten: these weren't his words, they were God's, and therefore they should be heard and followed.
Next time my friends challenge me to be better, I'm going to try really hard to remember Jeremiah. Next time I'm in prayer and I hear the voice of the Lord gently encouraging me to change, I'm going to try really hard to remember Jeremiah. Next time I have a friend or family member who needs to be encouraged to follow the Lord, I'll try really hard to remember Jeremiah.
You see, the thing of it is this: God wants to speak to me. Many times, I respond like the people in Jeremiah's time and shut Him out, but I need to learn to listen more closely to Him. Instead of doing that, I need to learn to listen, because in listening to Him I'll become who I'm supposed to be.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
"Now, therefore, reform your ways and your deeds;
listen to the voice of the LORD your God"
Lord, am I willing to listen to? How can I be more open to what You want to say to me?
What things are you asking me to do in my life today, Lord?
Who are the voices in my life that I need to listen to more?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
Speak to me, Lord.
Your servant is listening.
Guide my life, Lord.
For the Rest Of Your Day...
Reflect on the people in your life who speak God's truths into your life, and find a way to make them more a part of your life so that you can listen to God.
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Today's prayer was prepared by Jason Theobald,
Director of Youth Ministry for St. Mary's in Huntley.