Friday, May 16, 2008

Listening Prayer (part one)

(Seth Barnes)

Some of our short term missionary team members once came back all excited about Listening Prayer. They went through the organization “Adventures in Missions” ( and learned a lot from the daily practice of this discipline.

The idea is not complicated. Seth Barnes in his book “The Art of listening Prayer: Finding God’s Voice Amidst Life’s Noise” talks about it this way:

  • When you are ready, quiet yourself and examine your heart. It’s often good to begin by reading Scripture. Ask the Lord to speak to you through it.
  • Ask the Lord to protect you in Jesus’ name from deception.
  • Ask God to speak clearly in a way that you can understand, and to confirm anything God shared with you in Scripture.
  • Write down a question for prayer. Then pause. This is where you wait and listen. The Lord has much to say to you. The Lord may direct you to another passage of Scripture. The Lord may share a tender word. Whatever you feel the Lord may be saying to you, write it down.

    Used by permission from “The Art of Listening Prayer” copyright 2004 by Praxis Press, Inc. Available at: Missions - Daily Devotionals
Why don’t you take some time to try that today? Then, please comment about your experiences here.


Anonymous said...

When I ask for Jesus to guard my mind from deception~does that mean that Satan can read my thoughts or put thoughts into my mind? Blessings, Rose

Anonymous said...

Hi, Rose. By the time this comment posts, someone else may already have addressed your question. I will just share an example from my recent personal experience.

Yesterday I was having the kind of day where I was extremely focused on my weaknesses. It seemed that every time I turned around I faced another issue that highlighted an area where I felt I needed to grow but wasn't seeing that happen. At one point, an voice inside my head insisted, "You are just a complete failure!"

I immediately realized that what I was hearing could not be the voice of God because it said something that was (a) not true when compared what the Bible says of redeemed children of God, and (b) unproductive---that is, not specific and leading to repentance (see 2 Cor. 7:9-11). Then I had to make a conscious choice to respond to that thought by countering it with true things from God's Word.

Was that a demonic voice or simply my own fallen nature speaking? Probably the second, although I think the point I'm trying to make is that if the voice spoke untruth, it was deceptive regardless of where it originated.

This particular incident did not happen during my prayer time or my Bible reading time, but it can happen then. Matthew 4 makes it clear that Satan is acquainted with Scripture and will try to twist it for his own purposes. Even more, my own sinful desires can cause me to "read into" Scripture what I want to see there. 2 Tim. 2:15 implores us to be people who correctly handle the Word of Truth, implying that we can easily do otherwise. We need to ask God to protect our minds from being deceived about how Scripture should apply to our lives---regardless of the source of the deceptive voice.

And we also need to be aware of the kind of deception talked about in James 1:22. We need to not only listen to the Word, but do what it says: otherwise we "deceive ourselves." It can be easy for me to walk away from my time reading Scripture thinking that I am "OK" (whatever that means!) because I have read God's Word and have maybe even thought about it. But if I don't let it change the way I live, I am just practicing another form of deception.

I'm not sure if any of these ramblings actually answer your question, but maybe they can offer some additional ways to think about what it means to ask God to guard our minds from deception.

marylou messy said...

What a beautiful way to look at prayer....listening to it. When I think of listening prayer, i think of hearing God's voice tell me what I need to do to further my life in Him. What this blog says to me is exactly what God has been calling me to do for the past year...have a deeper prayer life.

How funny it is that God uses absolutely everything to bring His direction for us, down a specific path. Whether it be the people I meet, the songs I hear, the scripture I read or the blog created from Trinity...God is speaking loud and clear!!!!


Gary Hinson said...

I don't believe there is any scripture that says that Satan knows what we think. See what we do, hear what we say, make assumptions from that about what we are thinking, yes, but not know what we are thinking about. But I could be wrong and I hope others will add comments.