The more people I talk to about listening prayer the more I am realizing that the term “listening prayer” is intimidating to most people. I hate that because once we start talking about it and putting it into practice 90% of those same people end up saying, “oh I already do this in some form” or “this seems so natural and normal I can’t believe I haven’t been praying this way from the beginning.”
It is with those experiences in mind, and the hope that it will foster more understanding and openness towards the idea, that I bring you the 5 things you should know about listening prayer!
1. Its not taboo! All listening prayer really is, is acknowledging that God leads us and speaks to us in our everyday lives, making note of how it is he speaks to us, and then trying to be more intentional about paying attention when it happens. The reason I think we’ve come to refer to it as listening prayer is that it requires a mindset shift from listing our own wants and desires, to being in tune with the will and desires of our Heavenly Father. In order to be in tune with Him we have to LISTEN to Him. Pay attention to Him. Our focus has to shift from ourselves to our Savoir.
2. God speaks in MANY ways. I think the most intimidating/discouraging thing for most people when they hear “listening prayer” is that they feel like God has to speak to them through an audible voice or the voice in their head. He does speak that way, but it is by no means the only way he speaks. I have friends who hear from God most through dreams, and other friends who receive pictures from God like images flashing across the internal screen of their mind. I’ve personally heard from God through song, dreams, conversations with other people, scripture, and many other ways. He doesn’t just speak in one way, he speaks in many. So, don’t be discouraged if the way you hear from God is different than the way someone else does. It is a personal connection, and God tailors the way He speaks to the person He is speaking to. Isn’t that cool?
3. It takes practice. Hearing from God is like riding a bike. It takes practice but once you get the hang of it, it feels like the most natural thing ever and you can’t even remember what it was like to not be able to do it. God doesn’t expect you to perfectly hear and understand His voice the first time you try any more than a parent expects their child to take off on their bike with no problem the first time they remove the training wheels.
The more that you take time to sit before Him and receive from Him, the better you will get at recognizing the ways He speaks to you and understanding what it is he wants to communicate. Don’t give up or get discouraged if the first few times you try your mind won’t quiet down, or you hear something but get the interpretation wrong. Its okay! Keep practicing. Don’t let fear prevent you from entering into intimate conversation with your Father. There is lots of grace in the listening prayer space!
4. You will get it wrong sometimes, so be humble. When practicing listening prayer and sharing it with others it is SO important to recognize your own fallibility. Time and time again I encounter people who have been hurt by listening prayer because someone told them “God told me to tell you this,” and whatever the “this” was, hurt them. I hate when I hear this because the God I know only speaks love and encouragement, and when He brings conviction it isn’t in an accusing way, but a loving, I only want whats best for you, kind of way.
We need to be aware of our own personal biases, and be open about the fact that we might have it wrong. For me personally, when I feel led to share something I heard from the Lord, I always preface my sharing with, “I might be wrong because I’m still new at this, but I felt led to share this with you.”
In general I would just recommend that you only share things you hear about others if you know that it is 1. from a place of love, and 2. going to be encouraging. Approach anything you think you hear that is outside of that with lots of prayer and great caution. Its also good to keep in mind that God might have spoken something to you so that you could be praying for that person, rather than so you could share it with them. Always make sure to ask God, “what do you want me to do with this information?” Remember, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring conviction!
5. It will become your favorite way to pray. Once you develop an ear for God’s voice, you won’t want to stop. It will soon become your default mindset because there is nothing quite like hearing a personal word from the Lord. You will find that the enemy has less power over your mind because the more familiar you are with Gods voice, the easier it is to recognize the enemy’s when He comes with lies and condemnation. The freedom you will find in this space will leave you begging for more!
I seriously can’t say enough about how shifting my focus to receiving from God has impacted my relationship with Him. It really has become a relationship, where it used to be a one sided dump of emotions and listing of requests. Praying in this way has helped to align my heart and desires with that of God’s and to actually experience His deep and personal love for me. I never want to go back!
Will you join me? For more resources about listening prayer check out this post. I’ve also provided some resources surround listening prayer which you can access here. I pray God will meet you in this space as you take the step of faith to sit before Him and receive what He has for you today.
As always, know that I am here if you have any questions or would like specific prayer. Know that as a reader of this blog, you are already regularly being prayed over by me. Don’t hesitate to reach out and share your journey with me. I LOVE hearing how God is moving in your lives!