The Art of Listening in Prayer

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I wrote this back in March, but just got around to actually posting it now. πŸ˜‰ It’s still just as true and important to share. Hope you also find it helpful in your own journey of faith.

THE CHIRPS AT 3 P.M.

In this season of intense waiting, I decided to make afternoon prayer a part of my normal rhythm so that I could connect with God, listen to Him, and continue leaning into His work in and through me. Courtesy of my old phone at 3 p.m., the sound of digitized crickets break into my routine for the day and let me know it’s time to stop what I’m doing and pray.

Now, there are times when I heed the 3 p.m. chirps to prayer, but there are still other times that I find myself putting it off, thinking “I just need a few more minutes” to finish whatever it is I’m doing.

And then 15 minutes would go by, sometimes 30 minutes, other times an hour or more perhaps… then I’d stop and go pray. I’d feel a tinge of guilt, but reassure myself since I did get to praying after all. Surely God understands that I got caught up and just need a little more time… right?

Humph… Yeah, right.

Eventually, I began to see that my priorities had gotten a wee bit off center.

PREOCCUPATION STATION

Come behold the works of the Lord… ‘Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah.” –Psalm 46:8, 10-1

I confess: at times, I get so preoccupied with tasks or worries about the past, present, or future that I forget that God wants to carry those burdens for me. I think I always need to empty the floodgates of my crowded mind and verbalize all my concerns to Him so I can effectively pray undistracted. Other times still, I’m so caught up with the questions I want answered that I miss what He is saying when He chooses to address other topics. Somehow, I’ve put all the emphasis on what I can or should do, and in the process, I’ve forgotten what God can do, promises to do, and will do without my help.

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But the Lord is patient and kind with our weaknesses, loving us as He shapes and molds us further still. Through prayer, God is reminding me that He’s always here, always near and waiting to help if I would let Him. He’s showing me that He desires to speak to me, but I’m not always ready to listen to Him, which begged the question:

Would I stop and make myself available to His voice today?

So that day at 3 p.m., I answered the chirps, put away my computer, shut the door, and turned my face toward the One Who is ever present to pray. Though other thoughts swirled in my head competing for my attention, I just put them in a imaginary box and laid them as is at His feet. I told Him He could have my distracted mind, my weakness in focusing in on Him, my rambling discourse. I confessed the truth to refocus my soul: it’s not about what I can do, but it’s about God can do and is doing in and for me as I wait patiently on Him. I told Him how wonderful He is and spoke the truth about who He is, being faithful, true, more than able. Then I told Him “I’m listening,” set a timer for 20 minutes, and stopped talking.

BEING STILL…OR AT LEAST TRYING TO BE

And it was silent.

Like, really silent.

Maybe 5 minutes went by, but it felt like an hour.

It was difficult not to get distracted.

Mmm… I wonder what I should make for dinner.

Hey, mind, you’re supposed to be listening for Jesus not thinking about food!

Oh yeah – right! Jesus, I’m listening…

Silence.

Perhaps I should put some air in my tires…

Another unwelcome thought that was quite off topic. I pushed it away too.

More time went by…

And every time my mind would wander, I kept bringing it back to Jesus as best as I could by saying His name in my thoughts.

And somehow…

As I did my best to come to Him and listen…

Trusting Him to do something by His Spirit in the process…

He worked in me.

HIS WORK WHILE WE PRAY

Through prayer, I had chosen to say “be gone” to the false idol of productivity in favor of being still and knowing that He is God. In His faithful response, He refocused my gaze onto Him and what He is doing.

I walked away with Him with a stronger sense of His accomplishing what I cannot possibly do, of His intricately moving pieces together in a way I couldn’t fathom, of His strength operating on my behalf because I’m His beloved. He affirmed my waiting on Him because that’s all I needed to do right now. I experienced the Spirit’s incredible encouragement wash over me, receiving words from Him that I didn’t even know I needed in that moment. I was left incredibly awed and grateful.

My heart swelled with love for God as I saw Him more clearly and a smile came to my face. Again, He renews me in this wait. Again, He encourages and strengthens me despite my weakness. Again, the Father affirms His love and amazing plans for me. Again, He shapes me, makes me more like the woman He means me to be. This God Who is so near loves me, and I matter dearly to Him. What more could I need? It moved me to offer up the thankfulness welling up in my heart…

Thank You, God, for working all things together for my good, for doing more than I could ask or think without needing my efforts. Thank You for loving me, choosing me, walking with me. I am in awe of You and so grateful for Your precious presence. Thank You!

 

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