Do you LISTEN when you pray?
I assume most of you who read my blogs pray frequently. Or maybe I shouldn’t assume that? A primary focus of this website is to help us all develop closeness with our Maker and to come to know Him, as Paul said also in Philippians 3. I have a recent sermon on the power of even short, but frequent prayers. Plus another one on praying fervently. You see, we are the temple of the God’s Holy Spirit and the temple was called “the House of God” and the “House of Prayer for all nations”. In “the old days”, people went to the temple to pray if they could. So if we’re the temple of the Spirit, our lives should be a living dwelling place for God via his spirit. We should be His House of Prayer as well.
The temple was also where the Urim and the Thummin were, one method God used to communicate to his servants. Plus it was in the temple – or the Tabernacle before that – where God talked to Moses as a man does to his friend, or where God’s will was revealed.
What are your prayers like? The concept I want to convey in this article is this: Prayer is an interactive conversation with your Maker and Savior. It’s not to be a recital of words someone else wrote a thousand or more years ago. Nor should it be a monologue of words coming only from you as you monotonously run down your “Prayer List”. In my experience, conversations where one person does all the talking are not conversations at all -- but monologues – and frankly, these are often boring to the other party present. The “other party present” in this case is your God, your King and your Maker.
So – this blog is about learning to let God speak to you as well, even as you have this conversation called “prayer” with YHVH. This article is about learning to LISTEN when you pray. If you learn this well, your prayer life will be renewed and become so exciting as you start to “hear God’s voice”. I’m convinced God wants to speak to his children, yes – to you – and does speak – but we are not tuned in to his “frequency” or even realize He is speaking, and so we miss his words to us. How tragic.
Please click on “Continue reading” to learn more about this vital tool in effective praying:
Learning to listen to God say things to you. No, I’m not kidding.
Here are some things I can suggest to help one become a better listener to God:
** First of all, let me start with the obvious. Be sure you are doing the BIGGEST single way we can listen to God and that is by reading his word, the Bible, frequently and by listening to ministers who have an obvious closeness to their Maker. I like to read some Bible verses before I pray whenever possible, and it’s like saying to God, “before you hear from me, I’d like to hear from you. Before I talk to you, please talk to me by your Word”. I even make a practice of listening to the Bible audibly – by cd’s or apps you can put on your smart phone. So while driving here and there, or while weeding the garden, instead of listening to distressing talk shows, or non-scriptural songs --I listen to the book of Mark or Ephesians or Isaiah. When I’m done with a particular Bible book, I listen to it again and again – maybe 3x—so by the 3rd time I’m almost able to say what comes next. So now, when you hear something that you wonder about – immediately scriptures will come to mind. That’s a form of God speaking to you.
For example someone had said that it’s wrong to pray to the Father and that we should pray to Jesus only. Instantly, the verse came to mind, “When you pray, say- ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” That was the Word of God coming into my mind – a form of hearing God. Someone else said it was wrong to pray to Jesus. So immediately, Stephen’s prayer at the end of Acts 7 came to mind where he directly prayed to Jesus by name. So you won’t be led so easily into error, for God’s spirit will guide you into all truth.
** Second (or could be first): OBEY God. Cut out the ongoing sins in your life that you’ve cuddled up to and have refused to give up. Ongoing unrepented sin will block God regularly conversing with you.
How well do I know that! So what ongoing secret sins do you have? Knock it off. Give them up. Turn back to God, or you have to question if you’ve even repented. I had to face up to that some years ago in my own life. True repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God and His way.
Here are frequent secret sins people of God cuddle up to: Not tithing what is God’s money. Getting drunk several times a week. Visiting porn sites – secretly- - on the internet. Spreading the most vile gossip about other children of God – or anyone. God hates that so much, probably worse than the sinful items of gossip you’re spreading about someone else. Laziness. Lukewarmness about the things of God. He says it makes him want to vomit (Rev 3). Flirting with adultery or fornication. Lusting. Coveting. Dishonoring parents or anyone in authority. Gluttony. Obesity. But that’s getting too close to home, so let’s move on. But seriously, Paul says God will destroy those who desecrate their bodies – the temple of the Holy Spirit.
So what are your secret sins? Are you ready to give them up? You won't hear God (at least not often) unless you do. Get rid of ongoing sins and ways of life of sin – and He’ll show up. Notice how Yeshua (Jesus) put it:
John 8:43 – “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to LISTEN to My word.” Verse 47- (Jesus speaking): “He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God."
** Here’s a tip to help you hear God when you pray: have a pad of paper or even a journal with you as you pray. As you pray about people, or things, or situations, and as you thank God in your prayers, once in a while just stop and say, “Father, I don’t want to do all the talking. I’m going to stop in a second here and just listen. What do you have for me today? How would YOU like me to handle such-and-such situation? What would you like me to do for so-and-so; what should I say to them?”
Then truly LISTEN. Remember James’ words – “Be swift to hear and slow to speak and slow to wrath”. After all, we were given two ears and just one tongue (James 1:19). Apply that even to prayer. Start making “listening time” a part of your prayer life. Share with me the exciting news of once you find it working for you.
Sometimes, honestly, you may hear nothing at first. Don’t be discouraged by that. Keep doing it. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll start to hear God speak to you in strong thoughts eventually. I don’t “hear voices”, but I definitely get strong messages sometimes. Just yesterday I couldn’t find my wallet after a 2-day trip to the beach with my wife. I had taken the car apart practically, plus my desk, and had looked all around, and checked the car glove compartment – TWICE. And my wife had also. And then I realized I hadn’t prayed about it, so I did. And then I listened. Within a minute, it was so clear: “Go back and check the glove compartment again.” It was so clearly different from my own thoughts, that I even said out loud “But I’ve checked it twice already – but on your word I will again.” Guess what? It was at the bottom of the glove compartment. Praise Yah. (That’s what Hallelujah means.) There are many more examples in my sermon on “Experiencing God”. Look it up in the search bar on the home page of this website.
** For this “to work”, you have to ACT on the times He does speak to you. Do what you’re being told to do. Go check the glove compartment. Obviously test the spirits and be sure you’re not being told to do anything against God’s word. I have many stories I can tell -- “call so-and-so” and when I do, sometimes they were praying I would call them.
If you don’t act on what you’re being told, I believe God’s voice will grow faint again. Sometimes – like me knowing I had already checked the glove compartment twice – we don’t obey the Voice because it might sound silly or obviously something that isn’t going to work. Hey, David was told in one of his battles, “When you hear the sound of marching up in the tops of those mulberry trees, then you attack” (2 Samuel 5:23-25). Say what? Are you sure? That sounds crazy! – But David believed and obeyed the order anyway and had a great victory that day.
There was a time when Israel had not heard from God for a long time. Then God started calling to a young boy named Samuel. Eli told him to say, “Speak YHVH, for your servant hears.” So the next time YHVH called out Samuel’s name, he responded. He listened. And boy-oh-boy did he get an earful from God. The story is found in 1 Samuel 3 if you’d like to study it. Would Samuel have received the message if he had not listened – and responded to – the word of the Lord? In fact we’re told “YHVH came and STOOD there …” (verse 10).
Psalm 95:7 says, “Today, if you will hear his voice….” Do you know what comes next? You should. Go back and read verses 8-9.
HEARING God is a huge thing. Don’t buy in to the common teaching that God doesn’t speak directly anymore. Nonsense. After Yeshua’s resurrection, God OFTEN spoke directly to various ones through angels, through Christ directly (Acts 9 etc), plus signs and wonders.
The S’hma in fact is about HEARING God. Deut 6:4 – “HEAR O Israel, the LORD (YHVH) our God, YHVH is ONE…”
There are so many commands to HEARKEN, to hear, to listen, to incline your ear, to not be dull of hearing, and so on. Perhaps I’ll prepare a whole sermon on hearing, God willing.
Isaiah 55:2-3 -- “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, And your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. 3 Incline your ear, and come to Me. HEAR, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you — the sure mercies of David.”
Matthew 17:5-6 --- “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. HEAR Him!"
Revelation 3:20-21 -- “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.
There’s more that can be said. Be sure to hear the sermon “Hearing God’s voice” on this website, January and February 2009. Here’s part 1, just click on the link: http://www.lightontherock.org/index.php/message/are-we-hearing-god-s-voice-part-1
I promise you the time is coming soon when we MUST be hearing God’s voice just to survive. By then, I hope we’re a practiced people on this beautiful art: the desire to hear God’s voice – and the ability to comprehend it and do what He says. So next time you pray, tell God you want to hear what He has for you. Then listen. May you be blessed over time with God’s words to you, yes you – directly.