Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Art of Listening Prayer - Part 2

I am in the midst of reviewing a book by Seth Barnes called "The Art of Listening Prayer". Today I am posting on what I have learned from doing Day 8-16 in the 30-day study. I am obviously not doing this every day of the week, but it is making a large impact none-the-less.
Seth covers such issues as starting a conversation with God, and listening skills. He also talks about different ways that God speaks to us, through the Bible, through impressions, through others, visions, etc. It really helped me explore what I believe about how God communicates. It challenged me to take God out of a few boxes I had put him in. Seth shares a real life story at the beginning of each "day" and it helps to make it all more practical.
Day 10 is about our thought life. Asking the Lord to exchange our thoughts for his thoughts. I am praying for God to help me dialogue with Him throughout the day rather than being trapped in my own self-dialogue I tend to live with all day. It is not even that I consider my own self-dialaogue negative - it just that it is mostly focused on myself and my agenda - I am looking forward to letting the Lord's thoughts become louder than my own.
Day 15 is about following through. He compares our conversing with God to learning to communicate with our parents.
"Look at what a complex task it is to learn to communicate with our parents:
First we learn to recognize their voices.
Then we learn their vocabulary.
Then we decipher their meaning.
Then we learn to speak words.
Then we learn to interact.
Then we learn to respect and obey.
Ultimately in our 20's and 30's we may learn to communicate with our parents on a mature level."
This really gave me grace to realize what a process it is to communicate and converse with God. I believe He has been teaching me his language, by revealing His heart to me. I am so thankful for His patience and His grace!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Art of Listening Prayer - Part One

I have started the other book that was sent to me free with Red Letters (my review is below in 3 different posts). I received both of these books for free on the condition that I would blog about them and link the blogs of the authors!
I picked up "The Art of Listening Prayer by Seth Barnes thinking it would be a book to read. It turns out it is much more than that. It is actually a 30-day workbook. At first I thought - I don't know if I can really do this - I am already keeping up with Beth Moore's Believing God and BSF. But as I started to read the introduction I was drawn in. I am AMAZED at how God is so involved in ALL the details. As I have gone through the first 7 days of this workbook, the things that God is teaching me in all 3 of these studies are all intersecting, supporting each other and are a combination of exactly what God needs to do in me right now to prepare me for the journey He has before me!

The subtitle to the book is "Finding God's voice amidst life's noise". I am almost embarrassed to admit that I find the premise of this book so revoluntionary. The main idea is that when we pray and talk to God, we should then be quiet and wait for his response. Now, that part isn't what struck me as so new - I think at times I have prayed and then waited to hear God - and I do believe that God does speak.
The book has a few pages to read for each day with a concept to learn about communicating with God. Then there is a series of questions to ask God - not to answer them with my thoughts and wisdom, but I am to pose each of these questions to God and then wait for his response. By suggestion from the author I am using a journal to write out the questions - I am using one color for my questions and prayers to God. I am using another color for Scripture and anything I sense God is saying to me.

The principles in today's lesson - kind of sum up what I have learned - or been reminded of lately.

1. In normal personal relationships, dialogue is initiated by asking questions.

2. In normal personal relationships, after posing a question it is customary to expect a response and wait for it.

3. In normal personal relationships, the listener does not interrupt or allow distrations, but focuses his attention on the speaker.

4. In normal personal relationships we recognize the voice of the other party.

5. In normal personal relationships, people use a variety of means to communicate.

6. In an intimate friendship, there are expressions of affection and extended periodic conversation.

7. Honesty is important.

I feel like I have just begun to truly communicate with God. Today I had to confess to Him that I often think of prayer as similar to a lucky charm, like I mouth my prayers so that I am covered on everything and it is rare that I truly abide with, praise, connect, engage with or worship God in prayer.
It's exciting to realize again that God desires RELATIONSHIP with me a deep level.

I know that God is stirring my heart to a ministry of helping the oppressed and the "least of these". As I am waiting to see where He wants me to serve, He is drawing me into greater BELIEF, He is grounding me in His word, and now is drawing me into deeper intimacy with Him. Thank you Jesus!