“Give me a God-listening heart”
(1 Kings 3:9 The Message)
Exercise One: Listening for the Truth in Our Lives
Remember posture. Relax unnecessary tension. Slow your breathing. You can review your preparation routine by clicking here. Take a deep breath and let it out. Breathe in normally. As you exhale, pray the God-listening prayer:
“Lord, do you understand me?” Listen.
If your mind is wandering, try a different way. Pray,
“Lord, do you know what I need?” Listen.
“Lord, do you hear me when I call?” Listen.
Listen for the “Yes,” however you experience it. Be aware that you may hear, see, feel, or sense other answers. That is common. Since God is a God who loves through understanding, any voice you are aware of that does not say, “Yes,” speaks for itself and not for God.
Make a note in your notebook of any negative or qualified answers to the question “Lord, do you love me?” These answers are not biblical. They are the foundation of thoughts and behaviors that deny what Christ taught. You will learn to recognize them in the midst of everyday decision-making and pass by them without acting on them. When you review your notebook at the end of the week, I encourage you to spend some time exploring the attitudes that express your non-Christ-like beliefs and the types of actions they encourage. Just ask God what he wants you to understand about the negative answers you carry around between your ears.
Exercise Two: Listening to Our Experience for the Gifts We Receive
After repeating each thought silently to yourself, listen without conscious effort to control your thoughts. Just be aware of the words, phrases, feelings or impressions that come to you.
“Lord, show me where I was when you understood me in the last several days.”
“Lord, have I felt your understanding recently?” Listen.
“Lord, show me that you know who I am and what I need.” Listen.
If your mind is racing and you need to slow down, ignore the rest of the exercises. Rather, turn to the first exercise based on Psalm 23. After using it, return to the first prayer, “Lord, do you understand me?”
Exercise Three: Recalling the Gifts We Give
Relax, take a deep breath, then let it out. Breathe in normally. When I ask you to listen, be still and without effort allow yourself to be aware of the dialogue of your heart.
“Where was I when I understood another, Lord?” Listen.
“Lord, did I love another with understanding yesterday? Show me.” Listen.
“Lord, who have I encouraged by being understanding?” Listen.
Give yourself a few minutes to write down one or two of your experiences. Thank God for the opportunities you have had to love others with the love we meet in Jesus Christ.
Exercise Four: Listening for God’s Guidance for Our Ministry to Others
Relax and settle. If you need to, begin again at the top of your head and move your center of awareness down, relaxing any tension you may have accumulated.
“Lord, is there anyone I know who needs understanding?” Listen.
“Lord, show me people who need me to understand them.” Listen.
“Lord, whom do I know who hungers for understanding?” Listen.
On an index card, make notes of any acts of love you feel God may want you to do and date it.Thank God for the opportunities you have had to love others with the love we meet in Jesus Christ (John 13:34).
This completes the cycle for this week. Remember that it is neither necessary nor even desirable to try to complete each exercise every day. You can always begin where you left off the next day.