Let’s start today’s entry in prayer… but let’s do it a little differently. Close your eyes, breathe out slowly, and pause for a moment when your lungs are empty. As you breathe out, talk silently to God. Tell him what’s really on your heart right now. Then, breathe back in slowly. When your lungs are full, stop and listen for God’s answer.
Take about three minutes to do this. Just relax, focus on God, and silently share about your life and your cares with him. I’ll be here when you’re done, OK?
Finished? Good. Now, let’s reflect on what you’ve just done:
• What was different for you about praying this way?
• How does taking the time to listen to God affect how you talk to God?
Hopefully during this brief prayer time, God shared something that you needed to hear—and you were able to hear because you stopped and listened.
Now, let’s consider how we can bring that same sense of expectancy into our discussions and relationships with others. Colossians 1:27 tells us that “Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.” But how often do we stop and recognize that in other Christians—to listen for how God is already working in each of them?
To become a true spiritual friend to someone—and not just a friend who also happens to be a Christian—we need to listen, to hear how God’s working in those people we care about. And not only that, but we need to point it out to them when we see it, because often the last person to see God working in us… is us.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it this way in Life Together, “Christians… forget that listening can be a greater service than speaking…. [H]e who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.”
Think about it: When has the Spirit told you, in essence, to “just shut up and listen” to someone else? Why do you think the Spirit held you back in that situation? What did both you and that other person discover through that time?
Is there someone you get together with now (or should)? Hopefully there’s someone in your life you’re trying to develop a deeper spiritual friendship with. And if not, you both need it. Think about that person, then think about this:
• What question would you want God to answer for that person right now?
• How might God use you to help him or her discover that answer?
Pray for that person right now, then find time to pray with that person. And watch God work.