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How to Pray if You're Type "A"

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Learning to Listen to God

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him… Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’” (Isaiah 30:18, 21).

If ever we needed to listen to God and hear what He is saying, it is now. He longs to be gracious to us and wants to show us the way in which we should walk. This is so important because there are so many voices. There is so much negative static that strikes us from every side.

We need to listen to the heartbeat of God and not to what others are saying on TV or the internet. What is God saying about us? How are we to pray? How do we know what He is saying about the times we are living in? We must know how to clearly hear God. This is critical for us. Listening could save us our life! It saved one man from an awful, deadly crash.

An elderly man named Robert was in a terrible emergency situation. He was 81 years old and forced to land a plane with no flying experience. Can you imagine a worse situation to find yourself in? One day Robert Kupfreschmid and his 52-year-old pilot friend were flying from Indianapolis to Muncie, Indiana. While they were flying, the pilot slumped over and died at the controls, and the single-engine plane began to quickly nose-dive. 

Robert grabbed the controls and got on the radio, pleading for help.

Two pilots heard the call and immediately gave him instructions. Mount Comfort was the closest airport. Robert closely listened to every word as they gave a steady stream of instructions on how to climb, steer, and land the plane. The pilots circled the runway three times before inexperienced and frantic Robert was ready to land the plane. Emergency vehicles were called and ready for the approaching disaster. Witnesses saw the plane’s nose nudge the center line and bounce a few times before the tail hit the ground. The plane landed and to everyone’s amazement, this 81-year-old man was not injured.

Robert had listened so carefully and followed those instructions with such intense precision because his very life depended on it. Think about how our lives would be transformed if we listened and followed God’s instructions with such care as Robert did as he landed that plane.
God is always speaking to us, but many of us don’t take the time to carefully listen to what He says. 

The truth is that most of us are just too busy for God. We’re so often making our plans about what we think He wants, but we’re not really taking the time to listen. We proceed with a hurried prayer for His stamp of approval on what we want to do. But let’s stop for a moment and evaluate our hearing ability. We don’t want to be like the man who bragged that his hearing aid was the finest one available. His friend asked, “What kind is it?” He answered, “About 2:30.” He didn’t hear exactly right, did he? 

We so often fall into the disease of busyness. But how did Jesus live His life? He spent unhurried time in the Father’s presence listening, praying, worshipping, and carefully taking instructions every day for God’s perfect plan. He was in constant communion with the Father. Jesus only did what He saw the Father doing. He prayed what the Father wanted Him to pray. We must do the same. Many things will look good, but what does the Father want us to do? 

What is He saying?  

Listening to God and hearing what He is saying should be a daily experience. It’s not something we have to go on a retreat to do. Those times are good and beneficial, but if we can’t take the time to really listen to God on a daily basis, we have missed the boat. He may be in one place, and we have steered out of the center of His will and may not even know it. The challenge is going to get greater and the demands will only increase as the days get harder. We must learn this lesson today.

I write books on prayer and one day I was saying to the Lord, “Some people are too busy to read my books on prayer. They are racing around doing things all the time.” I felt the Lord say to me, “Don’t feel bad, Debbie. They are too busy for Me, too.” We need to listen to God every day. The Holy Spirit wants to guide us into all truth on a daily basis. Prayer is not only asking. It’s a two-way relationship. We listen to God and we talk to Him.

How can we put the brakes on and really learn to listen? There are certain basic things we must cultivate in our life that will help us to hear God’s voice. Here are several ways that will help you to cultivate hearing God’s voice. We read in Revelation 3:22, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

Hearing God’s Voice

  • Know God’s Word - God’s will is made known in His Word. It’s our final judge in our decisions. Learn to read, meditate on, and pray God’s Word. If we look intently at His Word, not forgetting it but doing it, we will be blessed in what we do (James 1:25).

  • Look at your circumstances - God’s guidance is often confirmed through circumstances. Bring your circumstances before the Lord in prayer.

  • Listen to your heart - What is it saying? The Holy Spirit is living in you. Examine your heart before the Lord, and ask Him for revelation (John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 6:19).

  • Know God’s peace - Is there peace in your heart? Even if there is a storm in your life and you are going through a difficult experience, you can have God’s peace (James 3:17).

  • Meet God’s conditions - God will guide us if we do what He says. Meeting His conditions will unlock His promises to us. Ask the Lord if you have any sin in your life that needs to be confessed.

  • Follow God’s guidance even when it is difficult - It does not always feel good when we have to bear our cross. God breaks us and does not want us to become too comfortable. Commit yourself to His ways even when it is hard (Isaiah 55:8-9).

  • Humbly seek God’s guidance daily - Humbly lay your daily and weekly schedule before the Lord. Stay humble and walk day by day with God (Psalm 25:9).

  • We must have listening ears - God often speaks through a still, small voice. He may drop a thought into your mind. He is often guiding us when we don’t realize it. We must listen to these quiet thoughts and ask, “Lord, are You speaking to me?”

  • Take action when you hear God - We must do all that God tells us to do. The Bible says that we should not merely listen to the Word and deceive ourselves; we must do what it says (James 1:22). There are times when we wait and listen carefully to God, and there are times when we must take action.

We need to develop this skill of listening. We don’t want to miss even a small nudging from the Lord in any circumstance of life. We don’t have to know all the details. Many times we will only see what is right in front of us. We need to carefully listen to God’s promptings just as this young man listened carefully to instructions.

A young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator. He answered the ad in the newspaper and went to the address listed. He entered a large, noisy office with a telegraph clicking in the background. A sign at the counter instructed all job applicants to fill out the form and wait until they were called to enter the inner office. The young man completed his form and sat down where seven other applicants were waiting. After a few minutes, he got up, went to the door to the inner office and walked right in. 

The other applicants were wondering what was happening. A few minutes later the young man came out from the inner office escorted by the interviewer. The interviewer said, “Gentlemen, the job has been filled by this young man.” Grumbling, one of them spoke up, “Wait a minute—He was the last one to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!” The employer responded, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. So the job is his.”

We need to learn to listen like this young man did.
 He got the job because he was listening carefully. We need to learn to listen to God’s voice carefully. He has a big job for those who know how to hear His voice and obey His Word. Hearing God takes a lifetime. It’s a skill that grows as we develop our relationship with Him. 

A Geiger counter is an instrument for detecting the presence and intensity of radiation. The closer you get to the radiation, the louder and faster the clicking noise becomes. In the same way, when you cultivate hearing God’s voice in your life through His Word, your circumstances, His peace in your heart, etc., the pieces begin to come together. You have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, and His divine guidance system helps you. He shows you when you are getting closer to His will. Like the Geiger counter clicker, you sense the power of His guidance as you begin to touch His perfect will for your life.

It is an awesome responsibility and privilege to hear God’s voice.

“As you study your Bible, you may sense that God has something to say directly to you through the verses you are reading. Take a moment to consider the awesome reality that the God who spoke and created the universe is now speaking to you. If Jesus could speak and raise the dead, calm a storm, cast out demons, and cure the incurable, then what effect might a word from Him have upon your life?” Henry and Richard Blackaby

Debbie Przybylski
Intercessors Arise International
International House of Prayer (IHOP) KC Staff

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In these early days of a new year, you have likely already experienced some level of spiritual discouragement or defeat.  Any fresh resolve by a Christian to follow the Savior, walk more closely with the Lord, or make a difference for His mission is met with spiritual counterattack.  The devil is intolerant of our spiritual progress.

We all know we are in a spiritual battle against an unseen foe and his army of minions.  As Christians we have the assurance that “greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).  We are challenged to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” and to “put on the whole armor of God” in order to live in victory (Ephesians 6:10-11).  A vital part of that victory is that we pray always, with all kinds of prayer, with all perseverance, for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

Knowing the Enemy’s Tactics

The Bible says that “we are not unaware of his devices.”  The Bible and practical experience reveal the nature of Satan’s character and strategies.  We know, for instance, that a primary tactic is to attack believers at the relational level, doing all he can to engender unforgiveness, misunderstanding, and discord.  When we fall prey to his efforts we “give place to the devil” (1 Corinthians 2:10-11; Ephesians 4:27).

As we seek to understand and overcome his tactics we must remember Jesus’ words, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).  In this new year, we want to fully experience and walk in that abundant life Jesus promises.  Satan seeks to counterattack through his efforts to “steal, kill, and destroy.”  Let me suggest three practical ways this happens in our lives.  I have seen that it is not uncommon that our enemy will seek to steal our time, kill our desire, and destroy our spiritual potential. 

He Steals Our Time

Paul writes, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).  We are to live wisely in evaluating and maximizing our time and opportunities because we are in a context of spiritual battle with the forces of evil.  If we allow the enemy to steal the moments of life, he has neutralized our primary commodity for living and doing well.

For me, this seems so subtle but incessant.  I typically am up no later than 5:30 each morning.  My first endeavor is to spend time with the Lord.  Yet, a barrage of distractions of every variety comes against my mind in those early morning hours.  I am learning that when the devil steals these moments, my entire day lacks spiritual vitality and focus.

If he cannot distract us from the time we try to dedicate to spiritual renewal, he will keep us so busy that we do not find the time in the first place.  Whether through distraction or busyness, our time for spiritual renewal is lost – and the devil’s strategies prevail, sadly, with our cooperation.  Of course, this happens slowly and incrementally, not all at once.  Sometimes the loss is so gradual we hardly miss it, but when his pilfering is complete, we stay busy for God with no quality time with God.

He Kills our Desire

We all know the joy of a heart that cries, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2).  The object of our spiritual enemy’s thievery is to neutralize these longings.  The demons delight when the summary of our spiritual temperature has been reduced to “lukewarm” or a lost “first love.” With powerful moments of spiritual focus and renewal gone, our spiritual desire suffocates.  For lack of cultivation and nurture, we lose interest in spiritual intimacy.

He Destroys our Potential

The “Destroyer” ultimately seeks to wipe out our potential for Christ.  When our time has been stolen and desire has been killed, we stand on the precipice of losing our spiritual integrity and impact for Christ.  We may attend church, serve, and appear to be spiritually vibrant – but it has become the shell of an empty life, no longer abiding and without the evidence of supernatural spiritual fruit.  The enemy has systematically, gradually, but effectively accomplished his mission.

Rising Above

If this assessment of the nature of the spiritual battle is accurate, then we must go back to that first front in which the attack comes – our time.  Certainly we are reminded that daily time with the Lord is essential as the inner man is being renewed day-by-day (1 Corinthians 4:16).  We also need to find that vital “Sabbath” pattern where we can cherish substantive time in the rhythm of the weekly journey to give the Lord our undivided attention.  Then, there should be those seasons of extended prayer (perhaps fasting) when we lock ourselves away to experience an extraordinary encounter with the living Christ.  For me, this amounts to an extended personal retreat or a Prayer Summit for several days with other believers. 

By His grace, we can rise above the cunning counterattacks of the enemy and declare from the reality of our daily experience, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

P.S. – I have also observed that this same kind of attack comes against church leaders and congregations.  Satan steals our times of corporate communion with Christ through distraction and busyness.  He kills the passion of the church to seek God’s face.  Instead, we become content with a treadmill of religious activity.  Eventually, the church loses all supernatural impact and instead becomes a frenetic collection of superficial programming; the battle is lost and the mission suffers at a corporate level.  May the Lord give us eyes to see this temptation and grace to repent and return to the heart of spiritually authentic ministry.

Copyright © 2011 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved

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