Often when we come to God, we approach Him with a list of to-do’s, wants, needs, and stuff that we’ve decided needs to be accomplished. The Lord honors all forms of our prayers to Him, but if this is where we keep it, we’re missing out on the richness and beauty of deeper relationship with Him. When we end the prayer after our lists or concerns, we don’t take the time to hear from Him–His perspective, insight, and overwhelming love–and miss out on the true heart of the Father for our lives. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a direct connection to Father God through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit is invited to live in us once we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we have a direct connection to the heart of the Father, and when we ask Him questions, we can expect to hear from Him! This may be an uncomfortable truth to those of us who like the control of being in charge of our relationship with God, but when we give over our control and tune in to his voice, true companionship with the Lord is opened up to us.
So let’s start small–you come to Him with your list and concerns, but before we say Amen, we take a few moments to silence our heart and listen. Here are a few easy steps for listening to the Lord in prayer:
- Settle into a comfortable position, body alert and attentive (not slumped over or laying down), and allow your body to come to a state of awareness. Pay attention to how your feeling and what the pressing concerns on your mind are.
- Pray and invite the Holy Spirit to be present with you: “Holy Spirit, I invite you into this place with me. I am not always aware of your presence, but I ask that you would open up my heart to Father God and allow me to hear from Him today.”
- Hold your hands out in front of you, palms cupped in front of you. As concerns come to mind, imagine you are placing them one by one in your hands. Allow your hands to “fill” with these concerns. Pray the prayer of release: “Father/Jesus/Spirit, I place these hands, filled with these cares, before you. As I listen to you, would you hold them so I can focus completely on you and your Good Word for me today? Thank you.” Release your hands in a symbolic gesture of release to the Lord.
- Ask your question. This can be a daily prayer prompt from a post, or something that is heavy on your heart. I recommend if you aren’t certain how to begin listening, to start by asking God, “Father God/Jesus/Spirit, is there anything you’d like to show me/tell me today?
- Wait and pay attention to your body and your senses. Do words or a sentence come to mind? Pictures? Emotions? What do you notice in your body? Do specific situations or people come to mind? Instead of self editing, write or jot down whatever you sense–don’t judge what happens in this moment, but rather be open to whatever in your mind and body.
- Re-read your notes. Ask questions. If you received a picture, what does this mean to you? If you heard a word or a sentence, do they resonate with anything? If you don’t know, ask “Holy Spirit, would you show me what this means?”
- Compare your notes to Scripture. Does what you wrote down line up to who God is and the good He has for your life? If you wrote down something contrary to God’s character, ie He could never love you because of such and such sin–you did NOT hear his voice, but rather your own inner voice. Listen Prayer will always line up with His GOOD.
- Thank the Lord for the blessing of His voice in your life: “Father God, thank you for th gift of your Holy Spirit. Thank you for what you have shared with me today. Help me to hear your voice naturally in my day to day life, and to commit every moment to you. Amen.”
If you didn’t get a sense of anything, or what you heard did not line up with Scripture, seek out a Spiritual Director, Pastor gifted in Listening Prayer, or Prayer Ministry to help you with your first connection. Or simply drop a note and we’ll see if we can guide you in the process! They can help you identify how you hear the Lord and encourage you on your journey.
It is a gift to be in companionship with the Creator of the Universe–let’s accept that gift and use it to the fullest to experience a Person and Love like no other.