Sometimes I pray, first thing, but it is usually in the shower or as I spoon weet-bix into baby's mouth. My listening is to wishes expressed about sandwich toppings, and a little boy hunting for his favourite Lightning McQueen T-shirt.
There is a balance in discerning God's will. We can become so focussed on being right about it that we never get going. And then we can put it so far to the periphery that we can feel, 'as long as I'm not doing the wrong thing, it's "all good"'. The dialectic between waiting and rushing in, I suppose.
God's word and God's people really do need to shape our discernment of what God wants for us, otherwise we can go off on weird tangents. Romans 12 talks about being able to 'discern God's good, pleasing and perfect will'. The passage ties that discernment to living sacrificially and having sober judgement about ourselves. It is not going to happen easily if we are focussed on our own needs to the exclusion of others or if we are proud or arrogant. God's will becomes clearer when we can see beyond ourselves, when we give time, energy, thought and love to others.
Listening to a talk by the Dean of St Andrews Cathedral, I was struck by a comment in his reflection on 1 Corinthians 12. He spoke of the spiritual gifts finding purpose in serving the body, the church. He spoke about arrogance, when we feel we don't need other members of the body. He pointed to the cure for arrogance - serving others. We actually deeply need others at the exact moment when we disdain them. We need them to provide a place to serve, to learn again humble, sober assessment of ourselves. To have Jesus example in Philippians 2 and start to imitate it.
Discernment of God's will becomes clearer as we serve others, and as we prayerfully search for ways to do it. That's why a good day begins with prayer.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. Romans 12:1-5.