One of my favorite passages in Scripture—and certainly one of the most telling stories—involves the time where Jesus stopped by the house of Martha and Mary. The scriptures tell us that "Martha was cumbered about much serving..." (KJV) but Mary "sat at His feet and heard His word."
Much can be said about the contrast between Martha and Mary, and Martha's attitude about the whole situation (and perhaps I'll write about that on another occasion) but what I felt in my spirit recently was a strong emphasis on Mary's position: she "sat at His feet and heard His word."
Understand that Mary's position was a bit awkward, to begin with, as women were generally excluded from the "men's meetings" that were common in that time among rabbi and disciples. For Mary to even find a place at His feet, she had to first overcome the stigma of being an uninvited, unwelcome guest. Unlike another uninvited woman (Mark ch. 5) who pressed her way against a crowd because she needed a supernatural healing, Mary had no ulterior motive, no pressing need to compel her to go against the grain and do what was considered "out of place" in that time. Her only reason for going against the grain was to hear what Jesus was saying.
Many of us have no problem sitting at His feet; it's the "hearing His words" that gets to be a problem. Often, we want to find a place near Him, but for all the wrong reasons; we're not listening to what HE has to teach us, but we're trying to argue our case, bend His ear, let Him know everything that it seems He's overlooked about our life. "By the way, Lord, just wanted you to know that I'm right here! In case You forgot where you placed me, I'd like to remind you that I'm still stuck here in this same old dumpy spot that I've been in..."
No, most of us have absolutely no problem finding a place at His feet, but hearing what He's trying to tell us is what is difficult. Why? Because we have to shut up and listen, and for most humans, that is hard to do...especially when circumstances aren't the best. I'll confess that I'm guilty of going to prayer on many occasions, not so I can listen to Him, but so that—hopefully—He'll listen to me! Listen to me whine, complain, grumble, ask for this, ask for that, etc etc.
Recently, I distinctly felt the Lord speak into my heart and tell me, "I'm really not giving you the 'silent treatment', like you've thought; it's just that you're not listening to Me."
Wow...talk about a gentle reprimand. Those were the words of a Father who loves me, but recognizes that, if I don't sit down and listen to Him, I'll never learn what He's trying to teach me. Did I feel chastised, humiliated, embarrassed, resentful? Not on your life! I felt a depth of Love that I've seldom felt, even in my times of deep, heartfelt prayer.
God isn't asking you to listen because He likes the sound of His own voice. He is Wisdom, and He is Truth, and He is Life, and His words bring healing, deliverance, peace, joy, and strength. Just as a father teaches wants to teach his children well in advance about some of the life lesson's he's learned, so also your Heavenly Father wants to prepare you for what's ahead. Maybe He wants to speak peace to your storm; maybe He wants to speak life into you, and call you out of the grave you've dug for yourself.
Whatever the occasion, you can rest assured that Mary had a reason for sitting at Jesus' feet, and that reason wasn't to argue with Him about her lot in life. It was to listen to Him speak.
Prayer is intended to be a two-way conversation between you and God. Find your place at His feet...and just listen.