In a men’s Round-table discussion recently, we were finishing up our conversation about the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-20. We observed that most of the spiritual armor we need is protective. The shield, helmet, breastplate, belt, boots, and even the sword of the Spirit are pictures of elements of spiritual maturity to help us stand our ground against the attacks of our spiritual enemy.
However, our activity as fully armored Christian warriors is extraordinary prayer. We do well to connect verse 19 with the whole armor of God.
As the group was beginning to disperse, one of our brothers raised the definitive question, “So what is prayer, really? Prayer at this higher level – how do we go there?”
The question surprised me a little. It also pleased me. This is the right question at the right time by the right guy. May his question throb with passion in each of our hearts. Let’s summarize the most significant steps we have learned about the Art of Listening Prayer.
è Move from Ordinary to Extraordinary Prayer: Let’s move beyond self-centered prayer and grow up into God-centered and other-centered prayer. Contrast these two passages:
James 4:3 NIV. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Ephesians 6:19. Paul says: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times, in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”
è Pray in the Spirit. Trust the character of God revealed in the Word of God. This will enable us to pray confidently even when faced with life’s “I don’t know’s.” We have a Helper in prayer in times of uncertainty. Open your heart to the Spirit and listen. Pray what He reveals. Look closely:
Romans 8:26-27. 26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
è Live in “Constant Communion.” Jesus had much to say about our prayer life. The simplest truth He shared about Listening Prayer describes “constant communion” with Him. Observe:
John 15:7. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
We have been training ourselves in the art of listening prayer over the past months. My prayer is for all of us to come to the place of sweet, intimate, constant communion with our Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ. May prayer flow in our hearts like the constant beating of our physical hearts.
Or, how about this: When I woke up this morning, I did not pose the question to myself, “David, breathing is pretty important. Let’s see — how do I do it? What is the art of breathing?” You get my point. Those spiritually alive, spiritually breathe. It is naturally supernatural. So, live in that give-and-take exchange with the Author and Finisher of your faith. Listen and respond and listen . . .
Be encouraged to flow in constant communion with the Lover of your soul – right here, right now.