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Hearing a Holy Echo

August 16, 2009

In Greek mythology, Echo was a mountain spirit who loved the sound of her own voice. Zeus, the King of the Olympians, was known for his many love affairs. The beautiful Echo often distracted Zeus’ wife, Queen Hera, from his escapades with long, entertaining stories. When Hera discovered Echo’s trickery, she punished the talkative spirit by taking away her voice. Echo could only repeat the voice of another.

An echo is a sound which is reflected. Because sound waves ricochet best from flat, hard surfaces, we are more likely to hear an echo in the mountains or in a vacant room. Most of us have been fascinated by the echo of our own voice.

Margaret Feinberg, author of The Sacred Echo, contends that the voice of God also has an echo. When God wants to get our attention, the Almighty doesn’t say something only once. We may hear a sacred echo. We may find that a verse of scripture, a theme, or a clear idea that applies to a life circumstance may come to our attention several times. The Bible is God’s microphone. If we want to hear God’s voice, we need to spend time reading and listening to God’s Word.

Prayer is never a monologue. It is more than simply talking to God. God wants to know our concerns, our questions, and even our doubts. We may find that a certain issue or a particular person keeps coming to our mind. This is God’s way of being insistent in speaking to us. This prompts us to focus our prayers on that situation or that individual. We must also ask God to respond to us and then fall silent, giving God an opportunity to speak.

Through this dialogue of scripture reading and prayer, it is important to keep listening for the holy echo. We may ask God to give us insight, to reveal things that are hidden in plain view. We might ask God to give us ears to hear the divine voice. We may pray for the wisdom from above to discern if this is the voice of God. We may pray for the ability to discern the voice of God apart from many others, including our own. We must be alert; we must be aware; we must be attuned if we want to hear God’s message for us. Anyone who will slow down and listen to this repetition can hear the persistent voice of God, the sacred echo.

In order to hear the holy echo, we must find a quiet place where we can unplug from the busyness of the day. Call to mind Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Keep a pen and pad of paper nearby to write those mental distractions that interfere. Then intentionally return to the time of stillness. The noise that blocks our ability to hear the divine echo is not external. The internal static of our own anxious heart must be quieted if we are to hear the holy echo. Spending time in private worship through music can also be a helpful tool to drawing our focus to God. Music can certainly be a sacred echo.

Ask yourself these questions when evaluating the sacred echo:

Does what I hear square with the vision God has for my life?

Does what I hear line up with the wise counsel of others in my life?

Does what I hear conform to scripture?

 Don’t lose heart. This spiritual discipline requires practice in humility and patience. Remember that prayer has three parts: listening, speaking, and waiting. Allow time for each one. When you do, you may be surprised to hear “echoes of mercy, whispers of love.”

Kirk H. Neely
© August 2009

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