I made the mistake of taking a bite of my morning sweetbread (homemade zucchini at our house) just before diving into my Bible reading. All of a sudden I remembered the card I pray before reading my morning scripture.
I looked down to begin the prayer and there I was with my mouthful. What a great moment that was. Aha, it taunted me, can you pray with your mouth full? AKA, busy with all the rest you’re doing, can you really focus on Me? Maybe worse…is prayer really prayer if you can’t speak it? aren’t ready to respond to it? give an answer? Will the sound of my chewing drown out the prayer?
Disrespectful, yes. But, that great God of the wonderful sense of humor seemed to say, now that you’re mouth is full you’ll stop talking and listen.
Now I am not recommending the zucchini bread approach, but the close your mouth and chew quietly may be just what I was meant to hear.
The prayer I usually pray silently (mouth normally empty) is:
“Holy Spirit, teach me what is true about these verses. What do you want me to understand? Direct my thoughts with every word I read. Protect and lead my mind.”
Some listening required.
Beats the old adage, “Open mouth, insert foot, chew quietly.” This form of humility tastes much better.
I am reminded of a pastor who, tending to speak his mind on occasion, said he chaired round table meeting where he intentionally took a piece of ice in his mouth so he would be forced to keep from speaking until the ice melted. The discipline to hold one’s tongue is hard, I guess, even for the leaders among us.