In my mid 30’s I was restless in my faith and more confused than I would have believed possible given my good and wonderful history with God and the church. But in that season, I began to crave more and yet didn’t understand what was missing. The tangible thing I craved was a prayer partner. At that time, my definition of prayer was small. I’d been taught to adore, confess, be thankful and ask in prayer. But I only did all four in moments when I felt obligated to get things “right”. I did a lot of talking at God.
What I didn’t know was the Lord was placing the desire to have a prayer partner because I needed to have someone to confess my questions to and to learn to pray together about them. It was an elementary form of listening. It took time for the answers to arrive. Sometimes the answers arrived in comments made by my prayer partner. Other times they came through Scripture readings that we were doing after I’d revealed my question. Or, I’d receive an insight from the Lord in the midst of the circumstances of life. The accumulation of that was a kind of listening that I hadn’t known in my life with God before my mid-thirties.
This also turned out to be the beginning of learning how to listen to others. I began to wonder what they longed to talk with God about or quiz God about. I began to trust and believe in our essential need to listen for God so much that I wanted to help others make space for it in their relationships with God too. Listening is a relationship skill. As I’ve learned to be a good listener to God, it’s naturally become something that I enjoy doing in my relationships with people.
Listening has also made space for hope to grow in my life. When you make space for God you make space for hope. I’ve learned that the Lord likes to help me and be with me. I’ve learned how much He loves me and that I can trust Him with every fear, question and concern. I’m less anxious. I’m more confident in God and that confidence continues to grow. As I close, I pray that you may embrace the essential nature of having a listening posture in all circumstances and come to know the blessing of this way of life in Christ, through the Spirit, honoring the Father.
“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NLT
Watch Cheri’s free three-part video series to help small group leaders better listen to God’s leading to their group members: Listening Well.