the good way

Listening Prayer

Session 8 • Maturity • Activation

“The real ‘work’ of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me…To gently push aside and silence the many voices that question my goodness and to trust that I will hear the voice of blessing - that demands real effort.” - Henri Nouwen

In scripture, Jesus says that his disciples will know his voice, as the good shepherd. Much of our journey towards maturity is being able to recognize and discern the voice of God. Learning someone’s voice takes time and involves intentional listening.

Mark Thibodeaux suggests that prayer involves four stages:

  • Talking at God
  • Talking to God
  • Listening to God
  • Being with God

When we engage in listening prayer, we are prioritizing silence and stillness, so that we can quiet the internal and external noise and open our hearts to listen for the voice of our shepherd.

To engage in listening prayer, begin as you usually do by closing your eyes, sitting in a comfortable position and breathing deeply. Invite the Holy Spirit to come. You may want to pray a simple prayer of welcome or use a breath prayer. It might also be helpful to name, before God, how you come into his presence and what you desire:

‘Lord, I come into your presence feeling _____, I desire to hear your voice.’

You may feel comfortable just sitting in the silence with God and noticing if anything in particular comes to your heart or mind. You may also want to bring a particular question, or wound, or longing to God and wait in his presence.

Often listening prayer can be done in conjunction with scripture. Lectio Divina, imaginative engagement with scripture, and formal study are all ways that you can listen to God. You could also sit before God with a piece of art, or an object from nature and ask God to speak to you through that. Perhaps God will highlight a particular word, or verse. Maybe God will bring to your mind a memory, or picture, or a portion of scripture from elsewhere in the Bible. Sit with whatever is coming up for you and invite God to continue to speak to you, and expand your understanding of what he is desiring to say to you.

To learn more about Listening Prayer, you may also find it helpful to watch the video below, courtesy of The Prayer Course by 24/7 Prayer.

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