We are still seeking to understand “Listening Prayer,” but now at a more refined level. When we open a conversation with our Lord, this may be a sweet communion between friends. Jesus gives us permission to view it in this way:
John 15:12-16. “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
I have pointed this out before. Friends tell friends things. Things that matter. Things that come from the heart. And now a companion observation. Friends respond appropriately to the heart of their Friend. In the passage above, Jesus said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you.” The “if” is a call to action, a way we demonstrate our commitment to our Friend. In this case, He calls us to love one another in the way He has modeled love by laying down His life from us, His friends. Love is a verb. It takes action.
The value of having this divine Friend cannot be overstated. When things turn dark, confusing, or hostile, we can go to our Friend and ask Him for wisdom to find the pathway forward to victory.
Comes now James, one of the Twelve and brother of our Lord. He says some powerful things about listening prayer to those who are overwhelmed by circumstances in this broken world. He says: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4.
Walking with our Lord deeper into Christ-likeness, it is inevitable that we will be tested. We run up against things too hard for us. James celebrates these opportunities to grow our steadfast faith. It will be worth it all to see the results God has worked in our character as He guides us through troubled waters.
And here is where our Friend comes in. James gives us an instruction and a promise. Listen: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5.
The directive for troubled folks like you and me is to ask, listen, and embrace divine wisdom. The promise is that our Friend will answer graciously. We can ask with confident expectation. He will answer!
Now, the Apostle James is a straight-shooter with his readers. There is a right way and a wrong way to ask for wisdom. He continues: “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:6-8.
Listening Prayer requires that we embrace the highest view of our God. Faith embraces the perfect will of God, settled in the perfect character of God. “Cease striving and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a. Jesus is our Friend, and He is so much more. We may picture our conversation as sitting at the table with our Friend, yet at the same time be in awe that we stand at attention before the King of heaven seated at the right hand of the throne of His Father. (Colossians 3:1-4) Both are true pictures of the context of Listening Prayer.
Next time, let’s let James offer us the true test of wisdom gained in Listening Prayer in James 3:13-18.