Are You Listening?

Learning to Recognize God's Voice

When you think of prayer, you might think of scenes like sitting in a church pew with your eyes closed or someone on their knees with their hands clasped praying for events and situations in their lives and the lives of others. These are beautiful and good scenes of prayer but there are also other ways of living in our relationship with God.

Much of our prayers can be “one-sided” in the sense that it’s a lot of us talking to God, but not a lot of us sitting quietly in God’s presence and listening. We can also get so caught up in the craziness of our days that we miss out on ways God might be guiding, leading and prompting us to follow him throughout the course of everyday life.

Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer, listening to God – which is crazy because He IS God. Through the account of his life on earth in Scripture we see the example of what it means to wait on and hear God. Jesus simply would not act without the guidance of the Father:

“For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken” (John 12:49, NIV)

“Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19, NIV)

Finally we see that Jesus obeyed. In the verses above, Jesus only did what he saw the Father do. In Matthew 26:39 on the night before his crucifixion, Jesus prays, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Even unto death, Jesus was obedient to the will of the Father.

APPLYING THIS TO CAMPUS

I’ve often heard people talk about a desire to pray more, yet with all the distractions in our culture it often doesn’t happen. Whether it’s the 10 more minutes you want to sleep in before class, that new Snapchat or Instagram notification that popped up on your phone, your friends wanting to go out or hang out between classes there’s plenty of stuff to do ALL. THE. TIME.

But what would it look like if you made a commitment – just for the next week – to take 10 minutes a day with God? If you read that and thought “There’s no way my brain will stay on task for 10 minutes,” or something similar – feel free to use the simple guide below:

1) PREPARE

Read Matthew 6:9-13 slowly 2-3 times:

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

10 your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us today our daily bread.

12 And forgive us our debts,

as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from the evil one.’

2) ASK

Again, read slowly through Matthew 6:9-13 but stop after each idea and think through what that would look like in your chapter: Picture in your mind what it would look like for:

God to be hallowed (or revered) in your chapter.

For his kingdom to come and will to be done in your chapter.

For your chapter brothers/sisters to receive their “daily bread” (or daily physical needs) in general but also specifically in ways where they would realize these needs were from God.

For you and your chapter brothers/sisters to forgive debts (or resolve conflicts) with each other in ways that would make your founders (and God!) proud.

For you to remain strong in the midst of temptation and a clear example of Christ in your chapter.

3) LISTEN

Now ask the question, “What would you like to say to me right now, God?” and spend 3-5 minutes listening. If you have trouble focusing, picture you’re in a room with Jesus – maybe sitting on a couch together, or standing and facing each other. What does he say to you? Write down anything you think you hear or recurring thoughts. Finish your time by thanking God (no matter if you sensed/heard anything or not).

4) PAY ATTENTION

If you don’t think you got anything in the last step, that’s okay! Ask God to make clear anything he might want to share with you over the next day or two through people, thoughts, and/or situations and then PAY ATTENTION! If you did hear or sense something, write it down and pay attention for any confirmations of this in your life. If this is the first time you’ve experienced something like this, talk to your Greek IV staff worker and/or your pastor about it.

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If you had a relationship with someone where they only talked at you but didn’t listen, my guess is you probably wouldn’t call it a good one. Yet, we sometimes functionally operate that way in our relationship with Jesus. Instead, we should stop, wait and listen for God, and be aware of his nudges throughout our day. You might just be amazed at what happens!

If you’re interested in learning more about listening to God, check out these resources:

Hearing God by Dallas Willard.

Prayer 101: Part 2, a devotional on Listening Prayer

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