Our Church has a young adults ministry, Fusion, where they plan events/special speakers 5 times per year and typically we haven't gone, for various reasons it has never interested us. Last Saturday they had such an event and this one really peaked our interest. Our favorite worship music leader (who no longer leads) came back for this one night, and a friend of ours from Southland's Church plant, Waves of Grace, was the guest speaker! We have both really loved our conversations with him and looked forward to his take on the topic - Listening Prayer.
Now, he currently works at Southland, has ever since our WOG disbanded, and we first encountered listening prayer through Southland in late 2006, so we knew he would know his stuff. But he's also a REALLY passionate and fun speaker, so we knew it would be entertaining.
When a friend of mine also wanted to go I knew there were no excuses, we just had to go. And we were not disappointed.
Here's just a little of what we learned.
1. God still speaks to us and we can hear him! God knew that the Bible would just be interpreted by the elite intellect if he did not continue to provide us with the Holy Spirit as interpreter. He said in the Bible he has hidden his truth (secrets of the kingdom of God) from the wise, because the wise are not humble enough to listen to the Holy Spirit. Do you know who is most open to the Holy Spirit? Children! Luke 10:21.
2. God provides us with revelations we think we come to on our own, but those inklings can be the Holy Spirit moving us in a direction. We may not all have Paul moments, but if we are moved or have knowledge that are not from human reasoning or teachings or any human source then the source has only 2 other options, God or Satan. Only with practice and spending time in the Word will we know which promptings to follow.
Here's an example of an inkling he shared with us. (Story paraphrased) Just the night before he had taken out all his youth leaders for a night of evangelism, just hanging out on the street and see what opportunities arise. One leader felt inclined to go to a certain restaurant so he did, he walked into a mostly empty place and made polite nodding contact with the one other person in a booth. He felt a nudge to ask, 'are you ok?' A simple enough question that could have been brushed off, but the young man blurted out, 'No! I'm terrified of dying?' He asked another simple question he felt prompted to ask 'Do you believe in Hell?' 'Yes I do.' 'Do you believe there is also a Heaven?' 'Yes, I guess I do.' 'Do you realize you can go to Heaven instead of Hell?' In that brief conversation the guy realized he wanted to go to Heaven and he committed his life to Christ right there. In under 5 minutes! Then he got alarmed and said, 'I need to go home. My roommate. I need to tell my roommate he doesn't need to go to Hell!'
Now, this doesn't happen every time we follow the Holy Spirit's promptings, but it goes to show what can happen if we allow ourselves to be guided by the omnipotent One and not our own agendas. He had a few great examples of following promptings that led to transformed lives, simple yet amazing testimonies!
But that wasn't the really profound part. Then he led us into listening prayer, we closed our eyes and he asked prompting questions, such as:
Do you remember a time a scripture or a sermon have jumped out at you and grabbed your attention?
Do you remember getting a prompting to do or not do something?
Have you had a dream or waking dream you felt meant more?
Where do you think God wants to meet you?
Why do you think God wants to meet you there?
What do you think God wants to say to you?
What do you think God wants to tell you about how he values you?
Both Sean and I received very impactful messages from God, in visions, in conversations, in feelings. It was SO amazing. Every time I've been lead through listening prayer it feels this way. But he gave such great ideas so that I don't have to wait to be led through it for it to happen again. And guess what, I've been doing it just about every day since!
Some tips he gave I've been using:
1. When he asked us, where does God want to take you?, I pictured a meadow in a valley, surrounded by lush fields of wild flowers and tall grass, surrounded by mountains, near a lake with brilliant sun beaming down on me, and I sat cross-legged in that field with Jesus. Now, every time I want to listen to him, I go there. It calms and silences me so I can hear his still voice.
2. He suggested anything that spiritually grabs our attention, right it down, then start writing a dialogue. Lori: Why is this _______ (song, verse, moment) significant? God: Because..... Lori: What do you want me to do with .....etc.
Keep asking different questions. Sometimes they may not be the right questions, this may cause silence, and you learn to keep asking differently until you receive answers again. Sometimes what you hear may not be God, they may be your own thoughts, or Satan's, still write it down, then compare it to the Word and for confirming or contradiction to find it's origin. If it doesn't contradict, pay attention to the answer, even if you think it might be your own thoughts, if you aren't obedient and it WAS the Holy Spirit prompting you, then what?
I am so glad I followed the Holy Spirit's prompting to attend this particular Fusion night :)