The 1-2-3 Challenge for September

Anne Pruett-Barnett, Senior Pastor

“Let your prayer be very simple. For the tax collector and the prodigal son

just one word was enough to reconcile them to God.”

                        – John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent

My father is moving out of the house in which he and my mother have lived since his retirement over 26 years ago. As you would suspect, this means that he is giving away some of the treasures that have been stored in the house over the years. As the daughter who followed in his footsteps in the Church, he has invited me to peruse the bookshelves and see if there is anything either I would like – or perhaps a younger clergy person.

Among the books was a copy of the Spiritual Formation Bible which I gifted to my mother when it was published in 1999. As I looked inside, nestled in the Bible was a bookmark that my mother valued which stated The 1-2-3 Challenge. After I finished reading it, it occurred to me that it is a beautiful way to start each day; so I share it now with you and encourage you to take up this challenge beginning this month!

Background of 1-2-3 Challenge:

Do this as soon as you wake up. Set your clock a few minutes early if that is what you need to get up ahead of the household noise. Lay your Bible by your bed as a reminder. This may not work if you use Bible Gateway. Go to the quietest place in your house, outside, your kitchen…wherever. This may seem difficult. You will hear every creaking tree branch, every barking dog. But like Elijah’s time in the cave (I Kings 19:11-13), God is not in the tree branch or in the dog. Persevere. Listen for the gentle whisper.

Step One:

Pray for one minute that God would speak to you. Audibly, out loud, ask God to remove distractions and mental clutter. During this time, do not ask God for anything else, do not pray for anyone else (but please find a prayer time for these things).

Step Two:

Open your Bible and read for two minutes. This is God talking to you through the Word. Listen.

Step Three:

Close your Bible and be silent for three minutes. Listen for God who may come to you as a thought, a nudge, an idea. For a while, God may seem hard to hear. There is so much clutter in our minds.

Keep listening!