Positioned to Listen in Prayer
Listening in prayer is one of the most unique aspects of experiencing an intimate relationship with God. As rewarding and fulfilling as it can be, it may also seem challenging because we are not actually speaking. The spiritual disciplines of silence and solitude are often practiced when listening in prayer. Some may find this kind of prayer a bit intimidating, wondering how exactly does this happen or what exactly are they supposed to do.
Jesus tells us in John 10:27 (NKJV), “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” This verse reminds us:
1. The role of the Good Shepherd is to lead the sheep.
2. The role of sheep is to follow the Good Shepherd.
3. As the sheep spend time with the Good Shepherd, they become familiar with Him.
4. Hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd causes the sheep to obediently follow Him.
In a culture that values words and especially spoken words, the thought of yielding to a stance of listening can seem a bit foreign. Not only do we value words, but we promote movement and activity, often associating them with success or productivity. Listening in prayer will require us to literally be still so that we can quiet our spirit in preparation for a posture of listening. This fosters an attitude that embraces receiving, not producing.
Do you know people who need constant background noise? Maybe it is so that they can focus, sleep, or to drown out distractions. Perhaps they are even more comfortable with noise over silence because it serves as a barrier preventing them from accepting God’s invitation for deeper reflection and communion with Him. However, there is special significance about learning to be quiet before God in prayer.
As we approach the presence of God in prayer, we have the confidence of knowing not only can we speak to Him, but that He speaks to us. Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV) says, “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” When we understand prayer as a dialogue and not a monologue, then listening for God in prayer will not seem so foreign after all.
Here are some practical tips you can implement as you position yourself to practice the art of listening, even in your own prayer life:
1. Before going silent, say what you believe you need to say to God (thanksgiving, repentance, petition, etc.)
2. Once you have released what you needed to say, specifically tell God that you are in His presence to hear His voice and yield to His leading.
3. Take a few moments to worship God, then immediately go silent.
4. Wait in God’s presence quietly. This means deliberately focusing your mind on God, refraining from multi-tasking, and not engaging in physical activity that causes you to shift your attention from God. It may be helpful to close your eyes, lift your hands, or kneel.
5. Respond to God’s voice. Perhaps this will look like you are journaling, offering God praise, or obediently performing an act as instructed by God.
If you want to begin incorporating listening into your personal prayer time, you may find it helpful to utilize a timer. People have often shared with me how it is hard to settle themselves and be still. Even if you set your timer for just five minutes, it will help you to begin building your listening stamina and be intentional about practicing mindful silence.
One question I have heard repeatedly is, “What if I don’t hear God say anything to me?” Well first of all, I personally believe God is always speaking to us. We are not always postured to hear Him, and sometimes we miss Him because how God chooses to speak may manifest differently from what we expect. But even if we feel like God did not speak during that designated time of listening in prayer, it is never wasted. There is value in just being with God for the sheer joy of being with Him, even if He chooses not to speak.
Similar to the way a couple can enjoy being in each other's presence without speaking, we too can know a level of intimacy with God. When my fiancé and I spend time together, it is not always necessary for us to use words to connect. We can still communicate and feel a sense of closeness without ever saying one word. So, if you ever wonder why you cannot hear God’s voice, still never doubt that His presence is absent from you.
God honors our desire to meet Him in silence and solitude as we listen in prayer for His voice. Remember, when we worship God, it is in spirit and truth, and it is our spirit-man that receives an impartation as we fellowship with the Lord. God meets us in our quiet moments as we listen with our spirit.
Be reminded of Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV), “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” When we are in God’s presence, positioned to listen for Him in prayer, He will quiet us with His assuring love that He is near; that He is present. As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, He teaches us when to speak, and when to listen. We can rely on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and by God’s grace, we will continue to flourish in our private prayer life, constantly drawing closer and closer to our Savior.
Warrior Woman Blog
Hello beautiful Warrior Woman! Has God spoken to your heart today through this blog post? Let me know - I would love to hear from you! If you are viewing this post on my website and have not yet subscribed to my email list, be sure to do so to receive monthly blog posts delivered directly to your inbox. You will also get to download my free Prayer Focus Guide and Planner, Ia special resource I have created to help guide your focus as you prioritize prayer during your private devotional time with God.
Championing women to live authentically and pursue God passionately, Patrice Burrell is called to lead others to the grace of God, rooted in the truth of scripture. She is a blogger, author, life coach, and worship leader who loves practicing the presence of God through a lifestyle anchored in spiritual disciplines. As a Bible teacher and preacher, she exhorts women to remember their true identity is defined in Christ, not culture. When not serving at her local church with the small groups and singles' ministries, Patrice enjoys visiting local Orlando attractions, reading books while sitting along the beach, and finding unique ways to explore her writing creativity. You can connect with Patrice on her blog, Warrior Woman Blog, on social media in her Facebook community, Warrior Women, and @patriceburrellministries on Facebook and Instagram. Patrice is excited about her new release of her second book, Living My Best Life: Embracing God’s Gift of Living Full and Single. It is a six-session Bible study designed especially for single women. You can also check out her debut book, Warrior Slay, a devotional book on the power of worship and prayer.