Luke 1: 26-28
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
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 practice availability is to listen. I want to encourage everyone to attempt this on a daily basis. Building it into whatever way you read the Bible is a great place to start.
i. 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.
ii. Read (or listen to) the Bible and then be quiet, praying in silence, until something grabs your attention.
iii. Whatever it is, write it down. It may be just one word, or a verse from the passage, or something else from your circumstances.
This is the listening bit! It’s not where we stop, but it is, usually, where we need to start!
iv. 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 us 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.
Dear Lord, I choose this day to be available to you. I want to be available to know more of your presence in my life. I want to be available to hear your voice at any time, so help me to listen for your voice amidst the many I shall hear today. I want to be available to act for you today, so help me see what you are doing and where you want me to join in. In Jesus name. Amen.