The Listening (Stop Talking) Aspect of Prayer
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.
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
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.”
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.
"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.”
- How to Know God's Voice
Learn how you can know God's voice and discern His truth from falsehood.
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.
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© 2017 Dora Weithers