I want to take a moment to share a simple principle that is key to a living and active relationship with God; the power of listening.
Before I share the basics of my encouragement, let me just strengthen your faith that it is absolutely God’s will to reveal Himself, speak with and instruct you in His ways. God wants to have a relationship with you, His dearly loved child, and that means true two-way communication.
John 16:12-13 I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
I love these verses and the promise of God to bring us into the truth. In fact, one of the most evident truths throughout the whole of Scripture is that God is a God who speaks, gives dreams, revelations, visions and guidance to His people. With that stated, one of the most powerful skills you can learn is how to listen. Let me give you a few key examples of how you can grow your prayer life by listening.
1. Listen to the Word. Duh! Start by looking for prayers in the Scripture that apply to your life and make them personal. You are literally hearing the will of God for your life as you pray the Scripture.
2. Ask God to speak and then listen as you pray. Expect Him to guide your thoughts, imagination and circumstances. This is a learning curve because our flesh is always active, but God is too. So, take a step of faith, ask then examine your circumstances, thoughts as you pray and you will find the guidance of God working in and around you.
3. Listen to the those around you as you pray in groups. One of the most important things you can do in any form of group prayer is realize that God will guide the group. So often as I listen to my partner in prayer, I hear an emphasis from God that strikes my heart. Then, I agree with it, I add to it and we often sense a “flow” of the Spirit as we pray.
A second important aspect of listening to those around you is that we need others, pastors, mentors, spiritual directors to help us learn how to hear from God. It is impossible to grow to maturity in Christ apart from the direct, regular support of the Body of Christ.
Don’t ever just pray your list. It is always okay to pray over your needs, but we must treat prayer as what it is; a relationship! Speak, listen, respond, listen and act on the faith that God is a real person who hears your words and answers your prayers.