Listening–how hard can it be?

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Hearing God's voice and following him

By Julie Wiens

Listening is just plain difficult. I’m not referring to hearing or the process of perceiving sound. I can hear just fine, but can I listen? It’s hard work. Listening well means letting go of what’s on your mind, being still and focusing on someone else.

This year I am part of the Elijah Project, a 10-month internship at Mountain View Community Church in Fresno, Calif. The goal of the program is to call out, train, equip and release spiritual leaders. We’re exposed to many areas of ministry, from evangelism and discipleship to teaching and serving. Each intern also has specific areas of focus, depending on their strengths and interests. My areas of concentration are graphic design, junior high youth and prayer.

A couple of months ago, I was asked to help with prayer training at the church. The focus of the session was on spiritual dryness and listening to God through prayer. We spent time learning how to enter into God’s presence, how to work with God in breaking down the walls that have kept us from intimacy with him and how to deal with broken relationships and worries that steal our joy. We spent time allowing the Holy Spirit and others to minister the love of God to us.

I was asked to teach the section on listening in prayer, which is when I started to really wrestle with the difficulty in listening. Listening prayer is simply asking God to speak and actively listening to his response. Why is that so hard? What can I do to change that?

According to the International Listening Association we listen at 125 to 250 words per minute but think at 1,000 to 3,000 words per minute. No wonder it’s hard for me to turn off my mind and focus on what God is saying.

Listening involves becoming still before God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” God speaks when we quiet ourselves and take time to be still before him. To listen is to wait for God to place something in my mind.

For part of the lesson we read Scripture related to God speaking to people. Someone read a verse and then several people responded with a short praise of God’s character. As each verse was read and prayed over, I was amazed at how hearing God continually builds up my faith.

John 10:27 says, “My sheep recognize my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” The more I practice listening prayer the more I’ll be able to recognize God’s voice and follow him. It is my passion that I would learn to be still before God and find great joy in his presence and that I would grow in my understanding of his character, his ways and his purposes. It is also my goal that as I quiet myself before God, I would continue to hear him in new ways, to know him, and to follow his voice.

My desire for this internship and for my life is that I would continue to listen to God and long to hear his voice. I want to set my pride and myself to the side so that I can hear him and know him more.

Julie Wiens is completing the Elijah Project internship at Mountain View Community Church in Fresno, Calif. For more information about the internship, visit mountainview.org or e-mail elijah@mountainview.org

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