This morning in our devotions at Living Hope a fellow volunteer shared with us some thoughts on prayer and it got me thinking about the area of prayer that I have been feeling challenged by recently........how to pray by listening.
It is easy to talk to God. It doesn’t take any special training or skill to do that. A relationship is a two-way street built upon the ability for both parties to be able to express themselves. God wants us to share our thoughts, our needs, our struggles, our confessions and our praises with him. But how often do we spill out all our needs and wrap it up with a nice “Amen” and move on to the next thing. Do we give God a chance to respond at that moment? I think many of us have gotten so used to the email culture that prayer time with God is like doing just that. Type out your prayer, hit send, check that off your list as accomplished and look for an answer in the next 24 hours. What if God has something to say right now?
I have started to try and change my prayer time up to be about half of me speaking to God and then the other half listening. It’s difficult. Several times at the beginning I start to listen only to catch myself 5 minutes later thinking about a sandwich or something......generally one with meatballs......and a lot of melted cheese. For me I have never had a hard time sitting still and quiet though. If you know me for more than an hour you will know that I could be the world champion of quiet sitting. The hard part is staying focused. How can I not only sit still and quiet, but be focused enough to break through the discomfort to hear in the silence. God will speak and lead your thoughts and direct your heart so that you can decipher his direction and instruction. It might not make sense at that very moment and might take time to realize what he was saying, but don’t miss to opportunity to listen.
Now, by no means have I mastered this ability to stay focused in the quiet. I mean, I really like thinking about food. But I am working on it. And I do feel like I am hearing more of what God is telling me in those sometimes awkward moments of silence. I don’t necessarily always like what he has to say, but rest assured in the quiet he is saying much. The question is usually just whether I am listening.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” John 10:27-28
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him” Psalm 37:7a