Your servant is listening” A two-way link.
But listening to God can feel to be an intimidating task. We are often encouraged to attend a quiet place and also to wait. However, as soon as we proceed, for a number people, nothing else happens. The heavens do not part, the attractiveness cloud doesn’t return to rest on our spirits. Instead, at the silence, the heartbeat within our ears start to beat like jungle drums, and we wonder whether we are spiritual at all.
The practice of hearing God feels elusive and mystical, and when we are honest, it can be very frustrating.
However, the Scriptures continue pushing on us to hear God’s voice. The men and women in the Bible, by the Patriarchs to the Prophets into Peter to Paul — all appear to be able to hear God’s voice leading and directing them. They get immediate guidance. 6:19). At John 10:2-4, we are told that we’d be able to recognize his voice, from those many, many voices on the market.
But there is a massive chasm between those biblical examples and also our existing reality, it begs a question:
Is it this hard?
Critiques of Guided Listening Prayer
For many, listening prayer itself is suspect from the expression of Christian faith. It seems overly subjective, too vulnerable to emotionalism and spiritual abuse, if not downright dangerous. For many others, it appears to press against the centrality of Scripture: when we are always searching God’s voice — a subjective experience — afterward will not these practices hamper the goal authority of Scripture in our own lives? To begin with, for proper discernment throughout listening prayer, Scripture should remain central. Secondly, I turn into a quotation out of Dallas Willard in Hearing God:
Hearing God? A daring idea, some might say–presumptuous and perhaps dangerous. However, what if we are made for this? What if the human system just won’t work correctly without it? There are good reasons to consider it won’t. The nice texture as well as the grand movements of lifestyle reveal our desire to hear God. Is not it presumptuous and dangerous, in fact, to undertake human presence without hearing God? (11)
yes, listening prayer can go badly if done incorrectly or badly, but if performed biblically and professionally, it is well worth the risk.
However, for the point of this article, I will not address these critiques more broadly, but instead refer you to a white paper co-commissioned from the Discipleship Steering Committee and Spiritual Formation & Prayer as a starting place. But first, allow me to provide a definition. Simply speaking, Guided Listening Prayer are a kind of meditation — either individually or in larger settings — that leads somebody prayerfully via a scene in their mind’s eye. Sometime throughout the scene, Jesus is released, and individuals are asked what they hear out of him.
Some consider that there is not any Scriptural precedent for this type of listening prayer exercise, and so, it should not be utilized. At the least, they all think that it should not be encouraged as a major evangelistic strategy. Also, in Scripture, it would appear that God frequently takes the initiative to create an image or spectacle for individuals, but Guided Listening Prayer appear to place the initiative together with human beings. The leader of this exercise is placing the scene. So, aren’t we merely asking people to find out what people, as ministry leaders, want them to view and hear, or what they want to view and hear? By having some type of instant, are we really only tricking ourselves into believing that God is actually speaking?
Dealing with inherent assumptions
At first glance, the argument looks reasonable: when the practice is not in Scripture, then we should not market it as a major ministry strategy. However, as soon as we dig a little bit, the logic does not always hold. There are many major strategies we utilize that do not have explicit reference in Scripture. The most evident come in the realm of engineering: we now have major social media and digital communications strategies that aren’t explicitly in Scripture. There are not any biblical mentions of Snapchat or Facebook. Add worship leading processes, management methods, even preaching methods — and we find ourselves frequently without an explicit biblical mention. The prevalent practice of shutting our eyes prayer is hard to find in Scripture. However we have those practiceswe teach themand we utilize them.
However, just how can this legitimate, whether it is not explicitly in Scripture?
It is because we examine the Scriptures in their original historical and cultural contexts, derive the principle in the texts, and apply them to our existing contexts. A lot of tradition today happens not because it’s explicitly there, however, because it’s derived from fundamentals that people all know to be based from the Scriptures.
So to be fair, the explicit usage of Prompts isn’t extensive, but I believe 1 Samuel 3:1-19 is this a passage. The boy Samuel is sleeping with the Ark, in which God’s existence was believed to be. God calls out to himbut the boy does not recognize Him. It happens twice, and Eli figures out what’s happening, and provides him a spiritual practice. It is a Guided Listening Prayer workout:”Go and lie down, and when he calls you, say,’Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening'” So today, armed with a definite exercise, he’s able to concentrate and recognize God’s voice. He’d be so famous for hearing God that it could be said he “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall into the floor.”
You may say that God is still taking the initiative. However, in our day and age, God is still taking the initiative together with all people. We, such as Samuel, are simply not aware of it. And we want something such as a Prompt to assist us song in.
Biblical guidelines of Guided Listening Prayer
However, are there biblical principles can be derived that can function as a foundation for Guided Listening Prayer? Here is a listing Sánchez-Herrera and Ball came up using their Listening Prayer article, and it is not even finish:
a particular scripture coming into mind (Acts 1:20; Acts 13:16ff)
a film or vision (Acts 10:11-17; Acts 16:9-10)
a dream (Daniel 4:4-17; Daniel 7:1-14)
an interpretation of a dream or vision (Daniel 4:18-27; Daniel 7:15-27)
a film or perception of a phrase (Acts 10:3ff )
a sensation or pain in your body (Acts 9:8-9)
a spiritual tune (Acts 16:25; Ephesians 5:19)
divinely sent messengers or angels (Acts 1:9-11; Acts 8:26) (Philip is advised to move south to Gaza–that’s all–but along the way he bumps to a priest, and it is clear to Philip that is the reason he was advised to come back.)
Signs and miracles (Luke 23:44-45; Acts 5:18-21; Acts 9:36-42; Acts 12:6-11)
limitation of motion and address (Acts 16:6-8)
It is simply to say that God won’t be restricted by my own theological or experiential boundaries. He will even speak through an ass, and I am not judging a person’s personality (Amounts 22:21-39). Human initiative is encouraged, and doesn’t undermine God’s initiative. Some may feel that God speaks to us abruptly and from the blue, perhaps like Moses’ burning bush. And that really does happen. But more often than not, our spiritual attempt puts us at a place to get God’s initiative. As I’ve heard Dallas Willard say:”Grace is compared to earning, but not attempt.” In a feeling we can take action to hear God better, if he chooses to speak.
These rhythms prepare , such as Samuel’s sleeping near the Ark, a sign of God’s existence, until he hears his call (1 Sam 3). Or Jehoshaphat calling the whole nation to fast and gather to pray, until they hear by the prophets (2 Chr 20).
These rhythms — for example any spiritual field — do not induce God to speak. It is God’s decision to speak or not. He always takes initiative, even though we believe we are. We are simply creating an opportunity. Even if we read the Scriptures, it would appear that we have taken the initiative to pick up text. However, God actually prompted somebody to compose the text, and He can take the initiative to speak to us via the text. It’s always his initiative. We may go to church on what appears to be our initiative, however, God will decide to speak to us throughout the worship services. And in the long run, these acts are motivated by God’s soul, and that merely reinforces the purpose Prompts are not undermining God’s initiative, but only placing us in places to get whatever God would want to perform. He blows off his end, but our rhythms allow us to set a sail to catch as much of it as we can. We do not speak for God; that’s left available. It is unfair to say that these Guided Listening Prayer actually ascertain what God is saying for individuals. We just establish a scene — a visual focus to meditation — however God seems, interacts, and speaks is always left up to God. No Guided Listening Prayer exercise attempts to actually inform people what God is saying.
Guided Listening Prayer doesn’t make God speak. Instead, it provides us a focus. Like Scripture reading or assembly in a small group, think about this another kind of concentration. It is giving God an chance to speak to us, and under no measure, are we filling at the content of that message. We are simply creating a boat that the Spirit may opt to fill, or maybe. It is a rhythm. We take initiative to place ourselves at a place to get whatever God has for us. Discernment happens through neighborhood. In 1 Corinthians 14:29, whatever a prophet could say in the Christian community will be weighed against the remainder of the community. The Spirit does not only reside in each people (1 Cor 6:19), but the Spirit also resides in the community as a whole (1 Cor 3:16). Consequently, anything that is considered to have come from God ought to be analyzed via the community of people. If a person uses their prophetic gifts to undermine valid spiritual authority and split the neighborhood, they don’t speak on behalf of their Lord, for the presents were meant to create the community up (1 Cor 12:7, 14:26). Scripture is central, and all revelation is analyzed against it. Together with”great eagerness” meant they had been open, and however they”examined the Scriptures every day to find out if what Paul said was true.”
The Bible is our standard, and so any revelation that comes out of God won’t contradict it. If it does not strengthen, encourage or relaxation, then it needs to be treated with suspicion. This way, though we allow for abstract adventures in God, all things need to get analyzed with Scripture.
Given the tips, my expectation is that we hold on the authority of Scripture although not quenching the Spirit.
Historical precedent: the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius
In addition to biblical principles for Guided Listening Prayer, there’s also precedent in Christian background. From the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, St. Ignatius, the founder of the Jesuits, highlights distinct kinds of prayers that have aided Christian pilgrims over time. I only want to highlight them to the purposes of the article, even though a third way (lectio divina) is already well-received, and can be emphasized in additional prayer resources.
Bible-based Guided Listening Prayer: Ignition Contemplation
Occasionally, Guided Listening Prayer can happen via a Scripture passage . Jesuit James Martin writes this:
In Ignatian contemplation, you”write the place” by imagining yourself in a scene in the Bible, or at God’s existence, and then taking part in it.
Ignatius really wanted us to have the passage, and he highlights a way of doing so in his Spiritual Exercises called”writing the place” At the start of almost every exercise, he wanted people to input in the Gospel narrative as profoundly as you can:
it ought to be said at this stage that if the meditation or contemplation is about a physical object, as an example, contemplating Christ our Lord through his lifetime on earth, the image will include seeing the mind’s eye that the physical place where the thing that we want to contemplate is current.
Then in the next week of this Exercises, he moves in additional and invites us to use our five senses to contemplate a place: to view, hear, smell, taste and touch the scene in our mind’s eye. This way, you can invite people to the passage to encounter this, and let God speak to them . James Martin found himself a bit incredulous as it came to with his imagination in prayer. However, after a conversation with a mentor, he found himself coming to terms with the idea:
Together with my imagination wasn’t so much making up things, as it was expecting that my imagination may help lead me into the person who created itGod. That did not meant that everything I imagined during prayer was arriving out of God. At the conclusion of the majority of Ignatius’ Exercises, he encouraged us to what he called a colloquy. Ignatius will change the scene and the individual that you are talking to in exercise to exercise. For our purposes, consider a conversation with a Individual in the Trinity. By way of example, you basically imagine that Jesus is with you, and you talk to him as if you are having a normal conversation. Here is what he wrote at the initial drill:
The colloquy is made correctly by speaking as one friend speaks to another, or as a servant speaks into his master, currently asking a favor, currently accusing oneself to get a few incorrect deed, or again, making known his affairs to Him and seeking His own advice about them.
In amount, based from Biblical principles and illustrated by Christian background, there appears to be at least be a place for Guided Listening Prayer within our motion, and I expect that it’ll be used not just to develop our intimacy with Jesus, but to assist our friends who do not know Jesus yet to comprehend his voice, and repent and feel.