Mary didn’t have the kettle on for Gabriel – he barged in, unexpectedly. To be honest I don’t want anyone to talk to me about availability during advent and it always takes me by surprise. However, (in my better moments) I know I need to practice being available before God, if I’m not to spend the rest of my life feeling like I’ve just turned up to discover the bus has just left.
Mary demonstrates what it means to be genuinely available before God. Let’s not make the mistake of thinking Mary was kneeling, praying, waiting for God to show up in the angel Gabriel. Being available is not expecting what happens next. Being available before God means allowing him to set your agenda.
One of the best ways to be practice availability is to listen. I suggest attempting this on a daily basis, by building it into whatever way you read the Bible, is a great place to start.
- Before you read your passage for day pray: ask God to bring to the forefront of your mind whatever he wants to grab your attention with.
- Read the Bible (personally out loud works best for me, or listening to David Suchet on the NIV Audio Bible) and then be quiet, praying in silence, until you something grabs your attention.
- Whatever it is, write it down. It may just one word, or a verse from the passage, or something else from your circumstances.
- Then ask the Lord what you need to see, or do, as a result of being made aware.
Mary, one can easily argue, was rudely interrupted. The news Gabriel brought could hardly have come at a worse time. The logic, or understanding of this news was beyond her ability to comprehend, or absorb. The impact of Gabriel’s announcement clearly meant life would never be the same again. All this makes Mary’s response all the more astonishing: ‘I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled’. This is precisely the attitude the Lord is looking for in each of today and every day. Practice makes … if not exactly perfect, then a lot more likely for there to be an outcome to our praying. Be warned however: if you say you’re available before God then he will take you at your word.