“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”—John 10:27
The devotionals of the coming five weeks encompass prayer as a living dialogue with God. Each week will focus on one aspect, and then you’ll be invited to practice that during the week.
Listening to God is a key part of prayer. In many cases, our tendency is to make prayer a time when we tell God what we want from Him or when we thank and praise Him. All this is very good, yet prayer can be so much more — especially when we learn to also spend time listening to God.
I often ask people a few simple questions when we study together on the subject of prayer:
1. In a relationship between a servant and a master, who speaks the most?
2. In a relationship between a student and a teacher, who speaks the most?
3. In your relationship with Jesus, who is the teacher and master?
4. In your prayer time, who speaks the most, you or Jesus?
In order for our prayer times to be joyful and include deep dialogues with our loving God, we need to learn to balance our speaking and listening habits. In our fast-paced modern world, we sometimes learn to speak more than we listen. We have to learn intentionally to listen better, both to our neighbor and to God.
Learning to listen to God is simple, yet it can be very challenging for various reasons.
My prayer is that, in these coming weeks, you will develop a deeper sensitivity to God’s voice and a growing joy in having a living dialogue with our loving Savior, Jesus Christ.
When the first disciples heard stories of Jesus, they would naturally imagine themselves as participants in those stories. Unfortunately, today, with the number of movies and pictures already made for us in our cultures, we sometimes lose the capacity to imagine or to let texts become alive in us. Added to that, an influx of technological noises and the tempting options to watch as many programs on media or other electronic devices are impairing our listening skills.
This week, I encourage you to pick a story from the Gospels. First, read it aloud and then close your eyes and imagine the story. If you don’t know which story to pick, consider Mark 4:33-41 (Jesus calms the storm), Luke 5:1-11 (Jesus calls His first disciples), or John 13:1-15 (Jesus washes His disciples’ feet). Try to live in the story as one of the disciples, in interaction with Jesus, not as an observer. Seeing ourselves as part of the story is helpful in allowing the Spirit of Jesus speak to us in a new way. This exercise is a meditation in faith to relate to Christ through Scripture. It helps us be sensitive to what Jesus would like to tell us through a specific story.
Ask Jesus to speak to you through His word. If you have an impression in your heart from Jesus, remain in a prayerful attitude. Focus on rejoicing in the presence of Jesus or beginning a dialogue with Him on how to implement in life what you sense God is telling you through this story.
Stéphane Tibi is a missionary serving as Regional Education Coordinator in Eurasia.
Written for Coffee Break.