It is possible to miss the power of prayer because we do not take the time to listen. It has been said by Epictetus, and requoted by most mothers at some point, that “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Now think about the last time you spent time in prayer, how much listening actually occurred?
Prayer is a conversation. But a conversation requires a back and forth process of listening and talking. Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who does all of the talking? It can be hard to get a word in. I had an aunt like that. My Dad would always say that he did not have a conversation with her, but instead he would have a “talking to.” Sometimes I wonder if we don’t give God a “talking to” in prayer.
We can dominate the conversation in prayer with our lists of requests and concerns that we want to bring before the Lord. But how often do we stop and listen during the prayer?
As we make space for listening we allow the Lord to speak. Perhaps words of comfort, or affirmation, or love. But also words of wisdom, about how better to direct our prayers so that they are more in line with his will. Guidance about what to be praying for will come when we listen to what God has to say.
Prayer is no longer a simple monologue where God gets a talking to from us. When we take the time to stop and listen then prayer becomes a conversation and we get God’s input into the situation.
Listening takes time and practice, it is not easy at first because we have so many distractions to deal with in our lives.
- The first step is to intentionally make space in our times of prayer for God to speak.
- Secondly, in those times ask the Lord to speak “Speak Lord your servant is listening…” (1 Samuel 3:10)
- Thirdly, listen and learn to recognize God’s voice and check that what you hear is in line with God’s will as revealed in scripture.
- The fourth step is then to follow the direction which the Lord gives. It is no good listening and hearing from the Lord if we do not step out in faith and obedience.
As we listen to God he will give us answers to our prayers and guide us as we continue to walk with Him and it makes prayer powerful.