The great affliction of the church is deafness. The problem of many Christians is not that they cannot speak, but that they cannot hear. And they cannot hear because they will not listen. Take prayer for instance. Many people will talk not stop but take no time to listen to God. And they do not listen because of the common misconception that prayer is talking to God when indeed prayer is communing with God, conversing with God; it is a two way communication. Besides, it does stand to reason, does it not, that if we have something to say, God just may, in His omniscience have some information, knowledge or other to share with us, and it would behoove us to listen. But how rarely we do!
Picture this! A person walks up to you all in a fuss about something, they begin to speak, and as soon as they start you want to interrupt them and tell them something because you know that they’ve got it all wrong , and that there is more to it than meets the eye. You try to explain but they keep cutting you off insistent on getting you to see their point of view and agree with them. They are sure that if you will only hear them out you will be convinced of the rightness of their cause and accede to their request.
Because you have a different perspective, you may know that they are way off base or perhaps you know that what they are fussing over is already taken care of, or you may even have needed advice for them on how best to sort things out, but they hear none of this because but they will not let you get a word in. They keep going on, and when they are done, they go off leaving you shaking your head in amazement. You know of course that the outcome is going to be very disappointing for them given the way they are going about things and you are left wishing that they had only listened.
That is the story of finite, imperfect beings, read you and I, who persist in coming before a perfect and all-knowing God with a personal agenda often cast in stone. We speak, fuss, cajole, cry, proclaim Scripture, argue, sing, and worship with no regard whatsoever for what God may be trying to communicate to us. Surely, when we speak of being ‘led’ by the Spirit, we must expect that for every time of encounter God must Himself have an agenda. And it behooves us to seek it out rather than force feed Him, or at least attempt to, with ours.
Indeed listening to God is a most admirable and intriguing form of prayer. God always wants to show us the things He knows; so as you listen, He will give you a God’s eye view of your world and your challenges, your dreams and hopes. He will transfer His thoughts and ideas to you, redefine your priorities and cause you to see things as they really are, not as they appear to be. Listening to God changes our perspective and consequently our praying.
And when it is time for you to speak, oh yes, He does let you speak, you will speak by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He will cause you to pray things that are light years away from your mind but which are right on the heart of the Father. You will pray what God sees which you now see and not what you saw before. The result is dynamite; it is sharpness, accuracy and effectiveness in prayer. It is dealing with things as you ought and not as it seems you ought.
That’s when prayer becomes captivating as you hear yourself decisively pray out the most unexpected things literally spilling out from the heart of God to you; you are propelled around the world in the Spirit to intercede for things that in the natural totally exceed your scope of influence and certainly your imagination. And all because you cleaned out your spiritual ears, renounced deafness and began to listen.
Finally a quick remedy for the deaf, listen. We listen to people whom we respect. We listen to God because we respect Him, because we believe He has something worthwhile to say, and when I listen I hear, I speak what I hear. And like Jesus I can say ‘I only say that which I hear my Father say’.