Praying to Hear
Encounter: Find a quiet place away from distractions and noise to spend the next 5-10 minutes learning to hear God. If you have never practiced this type of prayer and meditation, you may have ideas about what this time should look like. Leaving your expectations behind, see this time as simply being open to listening for God’s voice. Because God is always present with us, conversation with God can be a normal part of life. We are all growing in our awareness of God’s voice, praying to hear is ultimately what we all desire.
Before reading the Scripture passage, move through this exercise to quiet and focus yourself. (Once you learn it you can close your eyes and say it.)
Be still and know that God is God. pause
Be still and know that God. pause
Be still and know. pause
Be still. Pause
Read the passage aloud slowly or listen to Matthew 6:5-8 three times, underlining what speaks to you the most. Be open to letting God speak to you and also begin to think about or respond to God through writing your response in your journal or just speaking to God. Leave a few moments of silence here and there, pausing to listen. Now similarly, read Psalm 37:1-7,11 and John 10:2-4,27.
While living in Tucson, Jack and I took a roadtrip with some friends to visit Kartchner Caverns. The underground passageways are considered by many to be one of the most beautiful caves in the world featuring the longest soda straw stalactites in existence. Entering the cave itself challenged our equilibrium. As they closed the pressurized door behind us, suddenly the light of the sun we were so used to helping us see was gone and the noise of the traffic above became silent. It was like we were walking into a whole new world.
Before long our eyes became more accustomed to the dark and our ears to the sounds of water flowing through the rock. The guides would surprise us by lighting up one dark corner in the room at a time revealing the amazing formations causing the group to make sounds usually reserved for a 4th of July fireworks display. What was so remarkable to witness was people no longer grasping to be entertained by their digital devices. We all fell in love with the calm beauty of our new “closet” that had shut us into the beauty of seeing new possibilities and listening for what might be revealed by our guides.
When Jesus spoke of prayer, He described it as going into a closet, shutting the door and being with our Father, our Guide. I wonder what it would be like if we viewed listening prayer as a whole new world full of possibilities and surprises. For us, it can feel like a challenge to our equilibrium. It can seem like a dark and silent place we are not used to and we leave too soon before God has had a chance to begin lighting up the dark corners and guiding us to listen for the new sounds of the Spirit.
Jesus knows how different this feels for us and has left us with this encouragement, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:16-17) We need to listen to our Guide or we may miss what we could never see or hear on our own.
Dallas Willard shares in Hearing God, “It is much more important to cultivate the quiet, inward space of a constant listening than to always be approaching God for specific direction.”
This Sunday, we will gather to find the encouragement we need to learn how to pray in order to hear as we live every day remembering we have a Guide who has promised us, My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27) Wait for it…there’s a dark corner about to shine!
Listening with you,
Reflect: Spiritual Practice Read Mark 1:35 three times. Then write down your response to this question: How can I make the shift to pray primarily to hear God’s voice?
Encourage: Find encouragement to continue learning to cultivate quietness, listen to God and the tone of the Divine voice and to hear God in His Word. Read through the book of John which deeply roots you in God’s love and presence with you and read one of these books for a summer read:
Hearing God: Dallas Willard
Learning to Hear God: Jan Johnson
Sinners in the Hands of a Loving God: Brian Zahnd
Seeking God: Travor Hudson
Listening Prayer: Leanne Payne
Prayer: Our Deepest Longing - Ronald Rolheiser
Podcasts from Renovare
Gather: Discuss these questions in your small group time.
Share a time when you heard God’s voice while you were praying.
If God knows all of our needs even before we ask him, why do we make praying for our needs our main focus in prayer?
How do we make the shift to pray primarily to hear God’s voice?
What is one thing we can pray for you about so that you can have a dynamic prayer life?