The Listening (Stop Talking) Aspect of Prayer

Updated on November 12, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and Christian counselor presents practical Scriptural principles for joyful everyday living.

Most definitions of prayer mention conversation with God. Although that suggests two-way communication, pray-ers often concentrate on what to say without giving any thought to listening. The following story illustrates the listening prayer, and the added benefits to a pray-er who stops talking to listen.

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Photo by StockSnap | Source

Prayer Does Not Inform God

God knows everything. 1 John 3:20

In addition to God’s foreknowledge about the situation, He had listened to the husband and wife discuss it during the past four nights and three days. Several times, the man had retraced his steps from the car to and through the house last Friday evening. Still, on Tuesday morning, he had not found his keys. Separately and together he and his wife had overturned furniture and furnishings, and vented their frustrations.

Enter the old woman who walked into their nightmare and offered to help. “Have you searched all your pockets?” “Did you look inside the car to see if you locked them in?” They had done it all, and she did what she regretted not doing even before she questioned them.

She bowed her head in prayer, not to tell God what transpired; He already had the facts. “Lord, please show me the keys,” she prayed.

Listening Prayer Is Intentional

When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God.” - Ellen White

She had nothing else to say, no other favor to ask. She stood still, bowed her head and listened—with her heart. She had done it several times before and developed the art of hearing from God.

Suddenly, she started in a hurry, toward the back door and down the stairs toward the driveway.

“Where are you going?” the man asked.

“To get the keys,” she announced with confidence.

“How do you know they’re down there?” The man was following. He thought that the woman’s haste was compelling.

The old woman could have credited her instinct, but since she was intentionally listening to God, she knew that the idea came from Him. “God told me that the keys are not inside the house; they're outside."

Listening Prayer Is Patient

“Many people … never hang in long enough for God to show his power.” Wayne Stiles

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Wallpaper by Itsmekarol | Source

She looked around the garage; there were no keys. She rushed out to the garbage and recycling bins; he could have dropped them on his way there, but there were no keys in sight. She walked around the car; he might even have kicked them underneath, but she did not find them. She walked on and through the grass, too tall to be called a lawn; no keys surfaced. Had she stopped listening too soon?

She bowed her head in confession. “Sorry about my anxiety, Lord but please reward my faith. You said that the keys were outside and I believe you. That’s why I’m here.”

She walked to the beginning of the driveway, turned her back to the street, bowed her head and listened again. She saw (not literally) that the man got out of the car with a package in his hand. She saw him open the back door, take out another package and head toward the house with a package in each hand. She saw no keys. She kept listening.

Listening Prayer Is Revealing

Listening prayer is … an attitude of intention whereby our heart is open to greater clarity, expansion, and change. - Erik C. Carter, Ph.D.

By Jeannie Stewart
By Jeannie Stewart | Source

"What did I miss?" She expected that God would tell her what she wanted to hear; but God also wanted to tell her what He wanted her to know. She kept on listening, giving God a chance to say His piece.

Again, she could have credited her instinct, but since she was intentionally listening to God, she knew that the idea came from Him.

“This is an opportunity for you to remind the man and woman about the importance of prayer," God was saying. "Losing their keys is not their only frustration. I need you to emphasize for them that prayer works. They will be convinced, and will apply this truth to the other stressful situations they are facing. You also need this reminder."

“Thank You, Lord, for I know that in order for me to deliver Your message about prayer, You’ll show me the keys.”

Listening Prayer Is Necessary

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. . . and no one will snatch them out of my hand. - John 10: 27, 28

Sometimes God delays the answer until the pray-er listens to everything He has to say. The delay is not an invitation to fill Him in with details that we think will influence His answer, or show Him how much we deserve His response. Our eloquence does not hurry Him. He enjoys having us share the moment.

The old woman opened her eyes, and beamed a sparkling smile. “Come, let me show you the keys,” she beckoned to the man.

He ran toward her and looked in the direction she was pointing. The keys were just where he had placed them on Friday evening when he emptied both hands to make room for two packages. They remained on the top of the car for four nights and three days. God had hidden there from the sight of passersby until somebody listened.

Listening Prayer Poll

Are you in the habit of listening when you pray?

See results

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Dora Weithers

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      • savvydating profile image

        Yves 3 weeks ago

        Thank you for taking the time to explain, Alan. I appreciate it.

      • alancaster149 profile image

        Alan R Lancaster 3 weeks ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

        Not before Christ, Yves, before Christianity reached Scandinavia, Iceland and some parts of Britain (namely the Danelaw, Orkney, Lewis, the Norse settlements in Ireland and Wales). The Danes in the Kingdom of York (after King Halvdan Ragnarsson's time) accepted Christianity only late in the 9th Century, about when Harald Fairhair took Christianity in Norway and a century before Harald Gormsson - Bluetooth - allowed bishop Poppo of Hamburg to convert the Danes. King Aethelstan of the newly created Kingdom of England obliged Sigtrygg 'Caech' of York to accept Christianity in order to wed his niece.

      • MsDora profile image
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        Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Yves. You and Alan got me interested in Havamal. Thanks to you, I'm finding more about it. That quote reminds me of a book I read earlier called, "How To Think" by Alan Jacobs. It's all coming together.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 3 weeks ago from The Caribbean

        Alan, I appreciate your input. Listening is associated with the wise, and the wise are not in the majority. We all would improve if we listen.

      • savvydating profile image

        Yves 3 weeks ago

        Alan... Havamal was introduced into Northern Europe around 800 AD, not before Christianity (BC). Perhaps you can explain your statement regarding "long before Christianity."

        However, I agree that " listening seems to be the hardest task given to us, and yet advice given is unheeded because those who seek it only listen to what coincides with their own thinking."

      • alancaster149 profile image

        Alan R Lancaster 3 weeks ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

        Long before Christianity was ushered in to the Northlands (Britain, Scandinavia, Northern Europe) mankind was advised on how to behave toward one another, spiritually and physically. A set of rules known as 'Havamal', considered by them to be laid down by the Allfather (Odin), included this little pearl of wisdom under the heading "Spiritual Loftiness":

        "Of small sands, of small seas small minds are made. Not all mankind is matched in wisdom, the unwise are easy to find". Elsewhere is a reminder to listen to advice given, and to heed the giver of sound advice - ignoring the prattlers.

        We've struggled with ignorance and bigotry from time immemorial, listening seems to be the hardest task given to us, and yet advice given is unheeded because those who seek it only listen to what coincides with their own thinking.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 2 months ago from The Caribbean

        Leland, thanks for your input. I have great respect for the work of Oswald Chambers.

      • Leland Johnson profile image

        Leland Johnson 2 months ago from Midland MI

        Hi Ms. Dora,

        Oswald Chambers said, "if God knows our needs even before we ask Him, why do we pray? To draw near to Him." He also makes an interesting point about whether or not we want God, or rather just His blessings. I enjoyed reading your article. TTYL

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Ioannis Arvanitis for sharing that beautiful quote. I am encouraged by the title, "teacher of love." You are so kind!

      • Sean Dragon profile image

        Ioannis Arvanitis 4 months ago from Greece, Almyros

        “Those who put the pure love of their heart in their writings are a helping hand for the Angels, and they make God smile! What a blessing to the world!” - Sean Dragon

        I (Sean Dragon) am offering this quote to two great teachers of love, to you Dora Weithers, and to Manatita as an expression of my gratitude. God bless you.

        It will also be in my upcoming article.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 5 months ago from The Caribbean

        I hear you, Mary. Difficult to focus, but it comes with practice. God wants us to hear him. Thanks for your feedback.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 5 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        It is hard to listen when there is so much noise inside us and this is often my experience. I think about so many things that most of the time, I don't listen. Time to change this.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 5 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank you, Lawrence for sharing your story in response to this article. Your affirmation encourages us. It was a miracle finding your documents dry in spite of rain. Yes, prayer works.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 5 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        MsDora

        Let me tell you about a situation I had years ago.

        I was living at home at the time, and had booked a ticket to fly out to the Middle East, back to work as a missionary, I'd left my ticket and passport on the top of my car by mistake and was running an errand for mum and dad in my car.

        I didn't even know the passport and tickets were missing, but knew I had to stop and pray for 'safety' so I did, it was only a short prayer, but that's what I felt, so I did.

        When I got home Dad wasn't impressed as a 'truckie' had turned up on the doorstep with my passport and tickets, he'd found them intact, in his yard two hundred yards away, they were totally dry despite the fact we'd had heavy rain all that day!

        Listening prayer works so well, it also helps us keep real short accounts with Jesus.

        Thank you for this story.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

        Rajan, glad to bring the listening aspect to your attention. God must have a say in the conversation. Thanks for commenting.

      • rajan jolly profile image

        Rajan Singh Jolly 6 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

        Never thought about the listening aspect to a prayer thinking just about talking. Beautiful story and I'll keep this in mind now on. Thank you.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

        Rochelle, thanks for your feedback. Yes, meditation is mostly about listening, and a good habit to develop. I appreciate your affirmation.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

        Tamarajo, thanks for your input. You have truly discovered the benefit of listening: "something bigger and better." We all have room to grow.

      • Rochelle Frank profile image

        Rochelle Frank 6 months ago from California Gold Country

        If prayer is a conversation why don't we listen?

        Sometimes the listening part of prayer is called meditation. The scriptures say "Be still and know..." I have actually had the experience of looking for my car keys and thinking "God knows where they are.. and if He wills it now, He would want me to find them now. "

        Of course, after a quiet few moments.... there they were. Mysterious ways, indeed!

      • Tamarajo profile image

        Tamarajo 6 months ago

        Hi Dora, Listening is one of my absolute worst qualities. I however relate very much to your story in terms of asking the Lord to help me find keys that I lose frequently considering my memory is even worse than my listening skills. He does in fact help me with that.

        Your story added another element that I sincerely would like to grow in and that is to wait when that solution or answer doesn't come immediately. How often I forget it isn't always about me finding keys. He always has something so much bigger and better in mind and learning to listen all the way through would be one of those bigger and better things.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 6 months ago from The Caribbean

        Yves, don't be hard on yourself. God loves you so much that He motivated me to write this article for you to read. We all need reminders. So happy that this helped you, and thanks for sharing.

      • savvydating profile image

        Yves 6 months ago

        I needed this, Ms. Dora. My prayers tend to be short & sweet...and then I'm on my way. But I generally don't listen. Well, now I feel just plain silly? How do I expect to get any answers that way. Not to mention, it is disrespectful to God on my part for not putting more effort into the process. Thank you for this important reminder. It came at the right time.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Patience is a difficult test to pass, but we keep trying. Listening is good practice.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 7 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        Another interesting article, Dora. I learned a while back that listening is as important (probably more so) than what we say. For the most part, I think the Lord is trying to teach me patience through it - a hard lesson for me to learn. Thanks again for one more of your enlightening articles.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Jo, I'm happy that you like the story. It's true and it does prove a point we do well to remember. Thanks for your feedback.

      • jo miller profile image

        Jo Miller 7 months ago from Tennessee

        Beautiful story. Beautiful message. Thanks for sharing this with us.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Chitrangada. It's just a matter of common courtesy to listen to others; and it's a matter of even deeper respect to listen to God.

      • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

        Chitrangada Sharan 7 months ago from New Delhi, India

        Beautiful and important message conveyed by you in this article!

        Most of us have this habit of ‘not listening .’ We just say what we have to say—and that happens even while having normal conversations.

        Great insightful article and a good lesson for all. Thank You for sharing!

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Flourish. I'm really trying. Thanks for your encouragement.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

        This was a well told story that illustrated your point very well. You are a masterful storyteller with a purpose.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Devika, thanks for your feedback. Glad that you found the article beneficial.

      • DDE profile image

        Devika Primić 7 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

        listen and be silent so much can be adhered to in such moments. A beautiful and interesting about a prayer that most don't think of while in the moment.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Denise, thanks for your affirmation. Prayer works and listening is an important part of the process. Thanks for sharing.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Mary, perhaps it is the time it takes that makes us neglect to listen; but he reward is worth it. Thanks for your input.

      • denise.w.anderson profile image

        Denise W Anderson 7 months ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

        I had a similar experience with a neighbor of mine. I had given her a lift home from the grocery store and she hunted in vain for her keys. I felt impressed to invite her into my home for dinner. While helping her remove her coat, I felt impressed to look in a small side pocket on the sleeve. There were her keys! She asked, "How did you know?" I told her, "God told me!" I know that prayer works!

      • Blond Logic profile image

        Mary Wickison 7 months ago from Brazil

        Dora this is an excellent reminder that what we need is there if we just take the time to listen. God knows better than we do where our path should lead.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks Eric. I think that you understand prayer. Of course, you've taught this stuff. You also inspire me.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Kari. The point is that we do not have to say so much. When we remember that He already knows, we can stop talking and listen.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 7 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora sometimes I feel small. And then I pray. I stay small. And that is a good thing. Need I say one word of information? No.

        I can only pray in supplication. Perhaps I recount my sins - but let us be clear that that is for me. Good therapy. And likewise I cannot pray for my needs. God knows them better than I.

        So I am pleased and grateful for the road given. Amen is a word said but not understood.

        Thank you for great inspiration my lady.

      • k@ri profile image

        Kari Poulsen 7 months ago from Ohio

        Dora, I think this is a wonderful article. I really liked where you said "Prayer does not inform God, God knows everything. 1 John 3:20." This is so true. God already knows the circumstances, our responses to these circumstances, and what is best for us.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Manatita, pleased that you like the direction in which I'm moving. Really, it's the direction in which God would have me move. Please know that you have helped me find my way.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Jackie, thanks for your encouragement. I agree with you that God not only answers our prayers, but also feeds us with "thoughts reflecting on things we need to understand." We really need to listen more.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 7 months ago from london

        Cool. You continue to move in a great direction and in soulful service also. Rejoice with David, in the name of the Lord. Glory be!!

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 7 months ago from The Beautiful South

        How do you keep getting better Dora...but it does not surprise me.

        I don't think even just answers to prayers but thoughts reflecting on things we need to understand come from listening to God. So important to be in the word too instead of just in the world with aimless praying.

        I really feel sorry for those who think there are answers anywhere else. God loves us so much. You and I know that and many of our friends here. You are such a good influence on those who are yet to meet Him. I hope they pay as much attention to you as your brothers and sisters do!

        You are a great teacher. God bless you always.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, that is a fact. Perhaps if we learned to listen in prayer, the habit will spill over into everyday conversations.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        True, Ann. Listening is an endangered art, because we keep talking to make our points, while we miss the opportunity to learn something more important. Thanks for your kind thoughts.

      • MsDora profile image
        Author

        Dora Weithers 7 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Peg. Some of those senior moments might well have been an opportunity to practice listening.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 7 months ago from Olympia, WA

        Not only in prayer but in normal conversations with human beings...listen and be quiet. There is so much to be learned if we are only silent. :)

      • annart profile image

        Ann Carr 7 months ago from SW England

        Superb, Dora! This not only teaches us to listen but to have patience as well. You are so good at illustrating your beliefs, as well as telling a story. Many people don't stop to listen even when they are asking people questions!

        Ann

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 7 months ago from Dallas, Texas

        Beautiful story and an example to us to listen to the message God has for us. I loved the story of the keys and could certainly relate to that. What a great lesson about praying.

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