This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke from Genesis 18:16-33 about the prayer of faith in a message entitled “Praying in the Midst of Promises and Problems.” One of the five types of prayer that I mentioned from that passage was the prayer of listening to God. One aspect of this passage from Abraham’s story in Genesis is that God reveals His plans for Sodom and Gomorrah.
When we pray, we often voice our needs to God but one important aspect of faith-filled prayer is listening to God. Listening to God enables us to enter into agreement with God and His purposes.
But one question all of us ask is: how do we listen to God?
David Bryant, a leader in prayer movements and prolific author on the topic of prayer, speaks to this in his book With Concerts of Prayer. In that book, Bryant encourages us to listen to God in four specific ways (page 200). I shared these in my message this past weekend and wanted to post them here so people could return to them:
- Study the Scriptures – Familiarize yourself with the mind, heart, and character of God through His inspired word. This is the foundation stone and basis for our life of prayer. When we listen to God in Scripture, what we pray for, the way we pray, and our expectations of the answers to prayer are brought into alignment with God.
- Be aware of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in your life – All who come to Jesus Christ by faith are now temples of the Holy Spirit, who lives in us and strengthens us for daily life with God. Because of this, we need to grow in awareness and responsiveness to the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives. As we listen to the Holy Spirit in us, we begin to grow in awareness of how God is at work, which inspires our prayers.
- Learn what God is doing in the world today – Some of the most powerful movements of God happening today, are happening off the radar and in unexpected ways. When we pay attention to what God is doing around the world, it shapes not only how we live, but also how we pray. It lifts us into a greater awareness of what God is doing and how we can talk to Him about it.
- Talk to others about what you want to say to God – It is common to pray with others, but it is important to also talk to others about what we want to talk to God about. When we share our approach and thoughts about prayer with others, we also enter into a listening relationship that leads us closer to the heart of God with others.
A necessary tool for the journey of faith is a prayer that agrees with God through listening to His plans for all situations.
As a response to my message this past weekend on Abraham’s calling by God, I want to provide a spiritual exercise that we could all put into practice on listening to God. We see in Abraham’s life that his faith journey began when God spoke. So, too, in our lives faith begins by listening to God.
I want to encourage you to take time with the spiritual practice of listening to God sometime this week. Set a specific time this week where you can be in a quiet, undistracted place with God. In that time and place, invite God to speak to you as you begin to meet with Him. Slowly read Abraham’s story in Genesis 12:1-9 three times. Quietly reflect on what is happening in the story. Next, listen for how God is speaking to you about your own journey of faith. You may become distracted. That’s to be expected. Just take those distractions and release them into God’s hands. Listen for God for an extended amount of time. As you conclude this exercises, write down anything you sensed God speaking to you and then thank Him for His presence in your life.
You may also want to take a look at a small series of posts I wrote a few years back on this topic:
One of the greatest challenges for any parent is trying to communicate with a child. With young children, there are times when you have to sit them down, make sure they have steady eye contact, and then slowly speak your points. After that, you may ask the question, “Do you understand what I am saying?” The parent can only hope the message has gotten through. (Of course, some children have the same concern with their parents!)
One of the ways we can hear from God is through the voice of another person. As we continue the ||40days|| journey through Lent with attention to listening for God, we look today at what it means to hear God in another person. Even as God speaks primarily through Scripture, what does it mean to hear from Him in another person. Let me suggest seven things to consider when evaluating whether a person is worth listening to as a representative of God, whether at a personal or corporate level:
- God speaks through people who love God’s words (2 Timothy 2:14-3:10). When Paul offers instruction to the young pastor, Timothy, he calls him to hold to the truth in contrast to those who lose focus through godless chatter and a departure from the truth.
- God speaks through people who bring His truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). What we hear from others is not God’s word if it is devoid of biblical truth or biblical love. If those elements are there, however, we do well to listen for God in another person’s words.
- God speaks through people who help us develop and grow (Proverbs 27:17). We read inRead More »
Have you ever tried to get something done but cannot seem to finish because of interruptions? Maybe it’s that paper for class that keeps calling your name, but friends or your job keep you from completing it. Maybe the ‘something’ is that magazine you are trying to read through but your kids keep interrupting you to say something or get your attention. Or maybe it’s the meal that’s simmering away in the midst of phone calls and people stopping at the door.
Interruptions can be such a pain. But what if the interruption are the ‘something’ that needs attention? And what if God is trying to speak to us more in the interruptions than in the things we think are so important? This week in the midst of the ||40days|| journey, we are trying to listen for God. But sometimes God speaks in unexpected ways.
This calls to mind the story of the Apostle Paul. With a sense of clear purpose and direction, Paul Read More »
Our ||40days|| journey through Lent continues this fourth week with attention to our theme: ‘listen’. In previous weeks, we have looked at the journey of Lent, the need to acknowledge things in our lives, and then to turn from them.
Today, with the focus on listening to God, we look at listening to God in Creation. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 19:1:
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
The psalmist tells us that skies actually speak of God’s glory. Look out the window right now, if you have the chance. Take a look at the endless blue that stretches over your head. If there are clouds, consider the intricacies of light and shadow that are merely a conglomeration of condensed moisture floating on the air currents. See the tops of trees that scratch the skies with their outstretched limbs. Each of these elements of nature speak forth God’s power and creativity. Read More »