Posted by: Darrell Johnson | November 14, 2009

just listen

“A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening”
– Soren Kierkegaard

How often do we take time to just be still in the Spirit and just listen to what the Lord is telling us? Or what are our reasons for praying? Do we pray to heal “big” things like cancer or to end world hunger? Another question I ask myself is  “what are my motives for this prayer?” Do I really want the Lord’s will to be done or my own?

Maybe if I took time to listen, instead of mentally list my wants during a time of prayer and petition things would be different. My expectations would not be shattered, because quite frankly there is no need for my personal expectations of life to surpass that of the Lord’s for my life. He is in control and I am not. He is in control and you are not.

When’s the last time you sat in silence before the living God? I’ve known some people who were just intimidated by prayer because they weren’t sure if they were praying in the right way or if their prayers would even be heard. Maybe we’re more concerned with the reality that God is in control and we’re not. We’ve already written out the answer for our prayers without giving any regard to the awesome power of our Lord. He’s just there to seal the deal and make our wants “legit,” but it doesn’t work that way.

No, we need to strive for humility as we come to the Father in prayer and to not be so preoccupied with petty insecurities. Again we need to listen. It’s so easy for us to call up our best friend during times of great stress and desire for them to listen and hear us out, after all at times that just seems more tangible. Whereas listening to God can sometimes take a back seat. Speaking of God, seats, and listening…I once heard this story from my favorite author, Brennan Manning; it’s about prayer, it’s about listening, it’s a testament to how God can speak and turn our lives upside down when we set aside our insecurities toward prayer and just trust:

(A man’s daughter had asked the local pastor to come and pray with her father.)

When the pastor arrived, he found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. The priest assumed that the old fellow had been informed of his visit.

“I guess you were expecting me,” he said.

“No, who are you?”

“I’m the new associate at your local church,” the pastor replied.

“When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”

“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bedridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”

Puzzled, the pastor shut the door.

“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man.

“But all of my life I have never known how to pray. At church I used to hear the pastor talk about
prayer, but it always went right over my head..”

“I abandoned any attempt at prayer,” the old man continued, “until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place an empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because he promised, ‘I’ll be with you always.’ Then just speak to him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.”

“So, I tried it and I’ve liked it so much that I do it a couple of hours every day.
I’m careful, though. If my daughter saw me talking to an empty chair, she’d either have a nervous breakdown or send me off to the funny farm.”

The pastor was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then he prayed with him, and returned to the church.

(Two nights later the daughter called to tell the pastor that her daddy had died that afternoon. )

“Did he seem to die in peace?”
he asked.

“Yes, when I left the house around two o’clock, he called me over to his bedside, told me one of his corny jokes, and kissed me on the cheek. When I got back from the store an hour later, I found him dead. But there was something strange, In fact, beyond strange-kinda weird.

Apparently, just before Daddy died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside the bed.”

OH LORD, guide us all.

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