I have been seeking God wholeheartedly for 17 years. In the last 17 years I thought I had prayer figured out. Throughout the years I’ve had a steady prayer life. I often taught others how to pray. My goal was always to pray for 1 hour a day. Sometimes I would look forward to this time… often I would not. I clocked in my time… in and out. I never understood how someone could pray for several hours a day. How was this possible? How could someone possibly enjoy this? It seemed too hard, difficult, and EXTREMELY BORING. Perhaps you can relate. In the past I always saw prayer as a discipline, and while I still think this is true to a certain extent- I never realized that I could actually crave spending time with God. In the past it was more of a duty, but now I am really enjoying prayer. Things are changing within me and God is leading me into a new intimacy with Him. So what changed? With the help of my friend Eric Gilmour (author of the book “Union”) I have discovered contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer is quieting your soul from all the distractions of life and meditating on Jesus. It’s adoring Him and listening. This is very scriptural form of prayer.
Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”
Psalm 62:1 “For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.”
Psalm 77:12 “I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Psalm 131:2 “But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content.”
When is the last time you got in your prayer closet and you just waited before the Lord in complete silence… having no agenda but just to be with Him?
I never practiced this and yet scripture gives us dozens of examples that point to this type of prayer. It seems that I often had my list and my agenda in prayer, and I wan’t taking the time just to adore him. When friends are comfortable with one another sometimes no words need to be spoken. You can just enjoy the company of that person without feeling any pressure to perform and make something happen. So it should be with Christ. Sometimes no words need to be spoken. We can be in his presence and adore Him. (Psalm 62:1)
Some Christians are uncomfortable with this type of prayer because they think its roots are in the New Age, Hinduism, and Buddhism. They are wrong. Contemplative prayer was God’s idea. God longs for us to adore Him and meditate on Him to hear His voice. These other false religions have hijacked a type of prayer. The difference is they dwell on themselves, idols, and demonic spirits. We dwell on the creator of the universe! He is worthy of our worship and our adoration.
The truth is that God is always speaking… we are just hard of hearing because we are not LISTENING. Do you think God wants to keep his will for us a mystery? Do you think that He always wants us to guess what His will is for our lives? Scripture is very clear that God cares about even the smallest details of our lives.
It’s in this place of being still before God that we are going to hear His voice like never before. This is the key to hearing His voice.
With the internet, television, iPhones, iPods, and iPads, etc… you never have to have a quiet moment again! We are consumed with busyness and stuff. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why God speaks to us in dreams… because it’s the only time that we are quiet before him. As our body sleeps our spirit is very much active. In God’s mercy He speaks to us when we are sleeping because we don’t take the time to hear his voice in our busy day. BUSYNESS is the biggest hindrance to hearing the voice of God. (see my blog intimacy vs. productivity)
How to wait before the Lord in Contempalative Prayer…
1) Go to your secret place of prayer and give Jesus all of your attention. Turn off your tv, cell phone, laptop, so on. Free yourself from all distraction. Cast all of your cares upon Jesus. (worry, anxiety, problems, 1 Peter 5:7)
2) Worship and adore Jesus. (with or without music) Tell Him you love Him. Tell Him you want to give Him all of your attention. Sing worship songs to Him. Don’t let your mind wonder to anything else. Think and dwell on Him.
3) Listen in complete stillness– Turn off any music. Expect God to speak to you. Remember that He wants to communicate His heart with you. As you are meditating on Jesus the most common ways that God speaks are through a picture, a scripture verse, or his still small voice. If you need to block out any extra noise in the house buy some earplugs.
4) Write down what the Holy Spirit speaks to you. Keep a journal and write down what the Lord shares with you.
5) Pray through what God has been sharing with you because this is what is on His heart. Take some time at the end of your prayer time to pray through the revelation that God had been showing you.
If you practice this form of prayer I honestly think it will radically transform your walk with God. It’s in this place of intimacy with God that you will receive revelation. You will hear His voice like never before. You will receive direction for life and ministry. You will be praying what’s on the heart of God because you have taken the time to be with Him. Of course this is just one type of prayer, but it’s one that’s literally changing my walk with God and taking me to a place of intimacy with Him that I didn’t know existed.
The key to hearing God’s voice is simple- LISTEN