By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

Prayer and listening

By Jimmie Sheffield

Assistant to the Executive Team, Arkansas Baptist State Convention

I had never given too much thought about listening to God until I read Dick Eastman’s book, The Hour That Changes the World. But since reading this wonderful book on prayer, I have really tried to learn how to listen to what God may be saying to me. 

As I thought about it, I realized that I had written or spoke about prayer being a conversation between a person and God. Then, it dawned upon me. Conversation involves talking and listening. If we are going to be effective in our prayer lives, we will need to become better listeners.  

I also remembered that Henry Blackaby taught that God speaks to us through His Word, prayer, circumstances, and the church. Again, it dawned on me. If God speaks to me, I must become a better listener.  

One of the questions that came to me as I thought about listening to God was, “Why should I listen to God?” I thought about the issues I faced and especially how I should live the Christian life. God’s Word contains teachings and directions about any life question I could face. I just needed to know more of His Word so that I could hear Him speaking to me. This also involved using my quiet time to read and hear God speaking to me. One of the driving forces in my life for many years has been to know and do God’s will. So, if I wanted to know God’s will, I had to hear from Him. That involved listening to God as He spoke to me in several ways.  

Being in the ministry for over sixty-five years involved moving numerous times. Every time we faced a move, I spent hours praying and asking God for direction in my life. What if I prayed often and long but I didn’t listen? If that were true, I would never have received God’s direction for my life. Seeking God’s direction in your life is a real reason for learning to listen to God. 

Often when Jesus was on the earth He would say “Listen.” Then he would give his followers instructions for living the Christian life. Today, we need to heed this word from Jesus, “Listen.” If we do really listen, we will hear from Him about living the Christian life according to His will. 

Another question that I had when I began to try to listen to God during my prayer time was, “How can I become more effective in listening to God?” I certainly do not have all the answers, but I have discovered a few things that that have helped. 

Psalms 46:10 says: “Be still and know that I am God….” (NIV) The CEV says, “calm down.” I certainly had to learn to be still and calm to hear God speaking to me. We all have a lot going on in our work, home, church, and other activities. I feel that God often has to shout, “Be still. I have something to say to you. Listen up!” 

I would challenge you to spend at least five minutes of your quiet time just being still and listening for God to speak to you. During those five minutes, do not do anything but listen to see if God has something to say to you.  

As I try to be still and calm, I still have to work at concentrating on listening to God. Thoughts flood my mind. My mind wanders. Sometimes, I cannot hear God speaking to me because I am not listening. To be truthful, listening is demanding work. I have had to work at concentrating and clearing my mind so that I can hear from God. 

As I have mentioned already, we must read God’s Word to hear from Him. He may speak to us in other ways, but most often He speaks through His Word. When you are reading God’s Word, always be asking God to speak to you. Then, listen to what He may say to you. He may bless you. He may challenge you. He may tell you something to do. His Word is our guide. Listen to what he may say to you. It will be a blessing to you. 

Prayer and listening go together. Try it. You will find it to be a wonderful experience. 

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