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Prayer Is Listening

If you’re just starting your prayer journey, one of the things that you’ll notice right away is that, while you may talk to God, God doesn’t exactly talk back—not in the way another human being would, anyways.

So then how do we listen to God? How can we hear from him? There are two ways.

The first one comes from reading his Word, the Bible. What’s amazing is that God has written down his word for his church so that at any time we can go and see what he has to say to his people. And even though the books of the Bible were written long ago and to people that seem a lot different than us, God still—even today—uses his word to speak to his church. The Author to the Hebrews says that “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (4:12) In other words, it’s not just passive words on a page but God’s voice escripturated. God is still speaking to us through his word. If we want to listen to God, the first place to go is his word.

The second way we listen to God is more subtle—and that’s through the Spirit of God working in us. Did you know that everyone who believes in Jesus has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit? That means that God’s Spirit is joined to your spirit, and through that union God guides you about what to do, how to think or even what to pray about? His Spirit even changes our spirit to be more like Christ. It’s one of the ways that God dwells with his people. God speaks to us through his Spirit.

And so the real trick to listening to God (if you can call it “a trick”) is to keep the word and Spirit together. Ask God to speak to you by his Spirit, but then go to the Word of God and listen for his voice. He will lead you by his Spirit through his word.

Pray with me. Father, thank you for speaking to us in your word and by your Spirit. Help us to hear your true voice by giving us ears to hear! Lord, we need your help because we can often be stubborn and foolish and we often would rather just do what we want to do rather than hear from you. Forgive us. And teach us to say as Jesus did, Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the living God. Amen.

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