"My soul waits in silence for God; from him comes my salvation; from Him comes my hope.” Ps 62:1-5
All of us want to hear God speak, actually speak, to us, but how do we hear God’s voice? Do we really expect a physical voice like yours or mine, or do we imagine a spiritual hearing of God’s language? Unfortunately, there is a problem: our lives are so noisy, and our heads are filled with so many voices, is it even possible to hear God amidst the cacophony? How can we hear the voice of God and receive clear guidance from God for our everyday lives?
Mary Geegh served as a missionary in India through the Reformed Church in America from 1924 to 1962. For 40 years she ministered and prayed with the people and wrote about her experience of God’s presence in a little book entitled God Guides. In this book she describes how God spoke into the lives of many as she prayed with them for God’s guidance using the Listening Prayer.
When we pray, most of us picture prayer as a monologue: we talk to God, sharing our heartfelt thanks and offering up our petitions and requests. But prayer is intended to be more of a dialogue than a monologue; we just haven’t experienced it in that way. It’s been observed we were given one mouth but two ears—an indication of what God would have us do twice as much. In Henri Nouen’s The Way of the Heart, Abba Arsenius (a 4th century Roman Imperial Tutor and one of the most highly regarded of the Church Fathers) is quoted to have said, “I have often regretted of having spoken, but never of having remained silent.”
The Listening Prayer centers around a clear request for God’s guidance. In making our request, we give God’s guidance authority over the other voices we hear throughout our daily lives. Then we hit the pause button. We wait on God in a time of silence, giving the Lord opportunity to speak to us. We focus our time of prayer on intentional, purposeful listening and let God do the talking. “Be still,” says the Lord, “and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).
Try praying this prayer. It will be awkward at first, even clumsy, but that’s okay. The main thing is to stay at it, make it a regular part of your prayer routine, and expect God to speak. Here is, perhaps, the hardest part; waiting on the Lord. Pray the prayer and wait. Take paper and a pen and write down what comes to you. Repeat the silence and write again. The waiting may be 10 minutes—or more! I told you it would seem awkward.
Remember that in learning a new way to pray we are actually unlearning the old. We are moving from form to function, silence to hearing. If you get frustrated stop and try again later, but don’t quit.
“Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus Christ, your son, and according to James 1:5.
I am seeking wisdom for _____________(your request).
In the name of Jesus, according to Matthew 28:18 and Luke 10:19-20, I take authority over Satan and his fallen angels and command that they be rendered deaf, mute, and blind to my prayers, and removed from my presence.
I submit my own voice to the shed blood of Jesus and command that my own thoughts be taken captive to the obedience of Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 10:5.
I ask, Father, that only your Holy Spirit will speak to me now as I wait on you for wisdom, insight, and direction. And whatever you show me or direct me to do, I pray that I will quickly obey.
In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.”
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
2 Corinthians 10:5
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Peace in Christ,
Father Bill Burk†