by Aaron Louie
Growing up in church and attending a Christian college, I’ve had the opportunity to hear and participate in a lot of prayers. I’ve expressed many desires, hopes, and complaints to God over the years, but recently I’ve been exploring another side of prayer – listening. Pastor Don talks a lot about listening prayer, and it’s something that’s often in opposition to how we normally pray. If I think about how I pray for people and situations, it’s usually along the lines of:
“God please do _____,
Heal this person from ______,
Provide a way for _____ to happen”, etc.
While there’s nothing especially wrong with those prayers, I believe that only praying this way has narrowed my concept of how God speaks. If I get tunnel vision looking for a specific answer, I often miss what God is really saying. I’m realizing more and more that God has personal things to say to me even in the context of praying for other people.
This past month in Neighborhood Church Groups and in prayer groups at my house, we have been incorporating listening prayer. What does it look like? Listening prayer means taking a step back and giving God the first word in the conversation. It can start with a simple, “How do You want me to pray for this person?” Then you wait. If God reveals a specific way, then you can go from there. If He doesn’t, that’s okay too. I’m discovering that the most important thing about prayer is learning to relate to God’s Spirit rather than me asking for the right things in the right way.
Romans 8:16 NASB
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God.
For example, one time I was led to pray against car trouble for someone who was visiting our church, another time God led me to pray against fear for someone with health issues. Still another time I wanted to pray for someone, but God said ‘let this person go for now, just pray protection for their life’. One thing that always seems to come up, though, is God leading me to talk with Him about why I want to pray for that person. It’s an odd thing to think about when I’m focused on the other person’s needs, but it has shown me how much God values His relationship with me in prayer. His Spirit relating to my spirit is His true delight when I pray.
James 1:19-20 NASB
This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
These two verses in James come in the context of dealing with trials. Sure, it applies human-to-human relationships, but even more so it applies to the human-to-God relationship. Listening prayer is one way we can be quick to hear about what God desires for us, slow to speak out of our own flesh or desires, and slow to anger by not tunneling our desires on a specific outcome.
Let’s listen first in our prayers this month and see how God relates to us in it!