Ways to Pray: Listening Prayer

by Emily Vanden Heuvel

Listening Prayer is simple: find a quiet place, read God’s Word, sit silently, and listen. We often bring long lists of requests to God, which he invites us to do (Philippians 4:6), but he also wants us to spend time listening quietly in his presence. “But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Listening Prayer helps us remember how God revealed himself through his Word, creation, and the Holy Spirit.

Listening Prayer is simple but it does take some practice. Many things demand our attention; work, family obligations, schooling, constant pings from our cell phones, and the never-ending distraction of social media. In the loud world we live in, it takes discipline to stop and listen to God’s voice and hear his leading. Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you let go of distractions and anxiety. (I Peter 5:7)
  2. Wait in silence. (James 1:5)
  3. Read scripture if your mind wanders. (Psalm 100)
  4. Write down ideas, pictures, and scriptures that come into your mind. (Psalm 66:16)
  5. Share the inspiration with a trusted friend or prayer partner. (Psalm 96:2-4)

A great way to start Listening Prayer is by letting scripture guide you. I suggest starting with the story of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2. After reading God’s Word, imagine yourself as an observer to the events. Now read the passage again as a participant. Is there anything new that you noticed or any comfort you received?

After experiencing Listening Prayer, write down your thoughts. How might Listening Prayer impact the way you pray for the people on your heart today?