Yesterday, we focused on the discipline of prayer as being a conversation with God. Today, we’re staying on prayer, but introducing a concept we don’t hear taught much.
When most Christians think about prayer, it means working through a list of cares regarding one’s own life, plus voicing concerns for others. But the other side of any relationship is listening.
When I teach on prayer, I always encourage and challenge men to commit a portion of their prayer time to just sit quietly and listen. This is where so many get uncomfortable. Is it a hard thing to start? Yes. Is it difficult at first to know what you are listening for? Sure. But—it is a crucial aspect in our relationship with God. At an Iron Sharpens Iron conference, one man came up to me and said he believed the reason he came to the entire event was to hear this concept, because he had never even considered it before.
Just imagine being God for a moment and hearing thousands upon thousands of people asking you for things, then imagine one person saying, “Okay, God, that’s my concerns today. Now I want to hear from You. For the next few minutes, I’m going to sit still, be quiet and listen.” What a paradigm shift! How do you think God would respond to that? Actually giving Him an invitation and an opportunity to speak!
While it may feel awkward for a while, if you open up with such an invitation on a regular basis, God will speak to you. And to be clear, I do not mean in an audible voice (even though He could), but in your own spirit. The still, small voice.
The next big question is always, “How can I know it’s Him?”
Jesus said in John 10 that His sheep learn and know His voice, even amongst strangers. Like any worthwhile discipline or skill, it takes time and commitment to hone. Interesting that the famous “abundant life,” verse 10, follows the passage about hearing His voice.
I know it’s my own voice when:
1—I only hear my typical repeated concerns, fears, and plans.
2—my usual chaos is connected to it.
3—I hear linear, word-by-word familiar thoughts.
I know it is God’s voice when…
1—a thought, idea, or instruction comes suddenly like seeing an entire painting unveiled.
2—it doesn’t make human sense, but great peace overcomes the questions.
3—it lines up with the truth of Scripture.
In closing, consider these passages…
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” —1 Samuel 3:10b
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. —1 Kings 19:11b-13
“Be still, and know that I am God.” —Psalm 46:10a