ok, with the intro at Synod (Tues pm1 @ about 37 minutes in) to our new home missions director, Moses Chung, I want to raise some questions on listening prayer. How much do we do listening prayer in corporate/communal settings?
In the intro, Brother James, pres. of home missions, said, " God spoke to us and said, "This is the person..." Now I know the scriptures do not say, "In 2011, the CRC Home Missions will appoint Moses for their director". So, how did they "hear Him?
After hundreds of years of cessationism, that we refuted in the 1973 Synod, where are we at with listening prayer?
Do we practice it, do we understand it? Is it scary? Just too mystical for our western trained intellect? I know our "times" of silence during church usually are about 10-15 seconds... so I don't think that's it.
So, interested in your experience or no experience of this "practice". I would love to hear your testimonies of "listening and obeying", whether they were corporate in nature or personal!
My personal journey on this started in high school, a little over 20 years ago. I spent hours (did I mention hours? like 10-15/day) driving a berry harvester at approx. 1 mile per hour. I loved it and still do. If you have ever been to NW WA, and seen the raspberry fields, this is where I worked in the summers (actually still do, but now we own some instead =) and work with our family). These hours provided much contemplation/ God time with many beautiful conversations with Him. I remember later reading books by Dobson and Swindoll and others, and realizing God had already given me some of the same thoughts in my time with Him in the field .
However, in the early 90's, the New Age cult was becoming prominent with increased awareness, and out of fear of that and ignorance about "listening prayer" - I had never heard anyone share on this concept, I closed that door of conversations with God, and it became one way prayer for almost 20 years. By His grace, He opened that door again a few years ago, and it has been an amazing and incredibly beautiful journey of rediscovering His voice. It is something I would love for everyone to "experience." But not all are excited about it, and someone flat out said, "God doesn't do that anymore." So, believe you me, when I heard the intro to Moses, my ears and heart perked up and decided I'm taking advantage of that!
Several of the books I have read on listening prayer are: God Guides by Mary Geegh...this is an RCA contrib. and available for $3-$4 through Faith Alive, with a great forward from Pray America
Another book is, Is That Really You God, by Loren Cunningham, founder of YWAM...great testimonies of listening prayer as well as wonderful history of the powerful ministry of YWAM.
Also, the books by Dr. Alvin Vander Griend (Love to Pray, Joy of Prayer, Praying God's Heart) have chapters pertaining to this as well.
There are other books that were very influential in my "training" on listening prayer as well, but those mentioned should have solid credibility in our denom.
Ok, look forward to your thoughts and testimonies =)
Affectionately, Bev Sterk
I love it that this topic came up! Just this past week I've been specifically asking God to teach me more about listening prayer. As an intercessor, I find it easier to pray with words than to pray with my ears and heart. But I do find that when I ask God what's on His heart regarding a particular person or issue, He does answer me. It's always with His Word (makes sense!) -- usually when I'm reading Scripture. But I am also learning to hear the Spirit's still-small voice speak to my heart. I'm asking God to make my hearing more keen...and for much discernment.
A couple of days ago, the Spirit suggested I read Isaiah 55. I love this chapter...so many promises! His Word for me that day was found in verse 3. The NLT reads, "Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life..." The words LISTEN and WILL popped out of the text. I WILL hear Him when I come to Him with my ears wide open (and my mouth closed?!). When I listen to Him, He promises me life (and unfailing love, the passage goes on to say).
I think my biggest struggle is hearing Him when I'm in a group setting; even one that's meeting specifically for listening prayer. I struggle with wanting so badly to hear Him, especially when I'm with more "experienced" intercessors. I realize the temptation is there to try to appear "more than" I am. The other day I confessed to God that I feel like a 5th grader in a room full of grad students (!) when I pray with those who have been practicing listening prayer much longer than I. He assured me He plays no favorites. I'm a work in progress and He patiently delights in my learning.
Thanks for bringing up this topic.
What a beautiful family =) and testimony.. (and name!!) . Praise God...thank you so much for sharing... isn't it crazy how the Word becomes much more living and active when you're listening to Him?
So who do you get to "listen" and pray with that have so much experience? That is awesome... would love to hear more about your journey. We are in training... Really excited about the appointment of Moses Chung as director of Home missions...a Spirit led man of prayer...he just spent 3 years in S Korea in "the" praying church... if you have a few minutes (about 18- I know how that can be with little ones=) and haven't already done so... watch his "welcome" speech from synod, he so resonated with my heart for prayer, especially about 12-13 minutes in...
the CRC staff separated his speech out so you can watch it, but you might want to watch the intro as well, which you will have to go to Tues pm1 for...
bless your heart sister... with (spiritual) ears and eyes wide open
Bev, thanks for the link. I'll try to listen to it today at work :).
You asked who I get to "listen" and pray with...God has blessed me with a mentor who is experienced in healing prayer ministry. She's been teaching me much about listening prayer. Also, my nephew is active in a prayer ministry that reaches out to college students, as well as to those living in poverty (physical and spiritual poverty). It just so happens my mentor and my nephew are in the same ministry. Every other week, my husband and I attend a time of Bble teaching by them, followed by a time of listening prayer. I love it! God's been teaching me so much about Him and how He interacts in our lives.
They've asked me to go to Kyrgyzstan with them in July to be part of a prayer team covering a camp for church leaders in Asia (many from "illegal" churches). I can't wait! I'm sure it'll be an unforgetable experience.
Enjoy your day!
(BTW, those precious children in my profile picture are my three little grandchildren! my kids are 27, 24, and 18).
definitely thought you guys looked young enough that they were yours =)
I re-read my post on the link and realized the "about 12-13 minutes in" could be read 2 different ways.... so when you watch the link, Moses really starts talking about his prayer journey in Korea, that starts at about 12 or 13 minutes in, and this goes through about 17 minutes or so, just in case you are listening for it only between 12-13 minutes... sorry if I caused confusion
That is so interesting and excitiing how God is connecting us in the area of listening prayer... I too, have prayed with others involved in healing prayer ministries (but not CRC or even reformed backgrounds), and went through some training for this. At this point in my life - with little ones (11, 7 and 5), I don't get to go in and pray with them very often, so most of my prayer time is at home... we do pray together as a family every night before bed, and, especially if we need direction with something, take time for listening prayer... my son, who's 11 has several testimonies of scriptures the LORD put on his heart that were beautiful answers to what we were asking.
One testimony is last Christmas, I asked him to sing with me in a combined church Christmas cantata that brought singers from the local CRC's together, since they were organizing a youth choir to participate as well. So I mentioned it to him, and his response was "do I have to?" My response, was, "no, you get to sing, but you have to have a good attitude." So, that night when we had our prayer time together, I said, let's ask God, whether He wants you to sing in this cantata. We were quiet about 5 minutes, I rec'd a scripture, but didn't share it right away, and then I asked him if he had any thoughts or any scriptures came to him... He said "Isaiah 5"... I asked him, "do you know what Is. 5 says?" He responded "no", so we looked it up, and Is. 5 is the "Song of the Vineyard" and starts with... now let me sing to my Well-beloved... So I asked my son, what he thought God was telling him, and he said "Sing!" (can't get any clearer than that!) and for the next half hour, he continued to receive more scripture references about singing...
The scripture that "popped" into my head was "make a joyful noise!" We both sang in the Christmas cantata last year =) !
Now, there's a whole lot more to this story...because when we showed up at the first practice, by the time we started practicing the first song, it was my attitude that was not good (and that's putting it mildly)... and I just realized as I was writing this, that God was going to hold me to the words I said to my son and wanted me to sing it with the right attitude as well... and boy, did He ever "undo" my bad attiude... the first verse, I didn't even know what I was singing I was so mad, in the second verse He melted the hardness in my heart and by the 3rd verse I was a basket case about ready to walk out because I did not know what I was going to do with all the "fluids" flowing from various places of my face... I had NOT "listened" to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as I walked in to practice that "you might want to get some kleenex"...My intellect immediately responsed to that with a snarky thought..."why would I need kleenex for practice?" and dismissed the thought... it was what I call a "terrible, beautiful" experience of being "undone", taking out the ugliness that was in my heart, and replacing it with a beautiful piece of His heart...
I don't mind being more specific about what was going on and why I was mad and how He got my attention, but it gets kind of long for this post... I will work on writing that out, and maybe if the network gets a testimony tab (hint hint moderators;-), I can post it under that some time =)...
I can't wait to hear about your trip...that is way cool... I sensed the Spirit when I read about it, and now again, when I'm thinking about it (I just read it again, and I felt another wave of the Spirit)... If you are blogging on it, let me know where I can find that... would love to hear everything... It's going to be amazing...
Check out International Renewal Ministries for stuff on coorporte prayer that moves in the direction of listening prayer. I agree this is pretty new for many of our congregants, and myself. I also read Dallas Willard's "Hearing God". Good for people new to listening prayer and who have the normal objections. I attended a few IRM's prayer summits for pastors. Three days of group, small group and individual prayer and worship times guided by a seasoned facilitator. It is truly renewing! I will be attending again.
Thanks Colin...good to hear from you... I got to attend a summit with you in 2009 =), I missed 2010, and missed you this year, but I got to meet Mike VanderKwaak sp? and his Mennonite office partner...fyi Dennis is coming Oct. 3 to B'ham - not sure if it's a full day or 4 hr, but you can get that on your schedule and share the word...
This is a great discussion on "listening prayer!" and long overdue. It seems to be a subject we have unfortunately shied away from for a whole variety of reasons - some theological, some simply practical.
When we listen to God, and "hear/listen/know his voice" (John 10:2,4,16), and then obey what he says, the testimonies are incredible. Thanks for sharing a few of your stories - they provide encouragement for us as we listen...
I am also excited about Moses' (Chung) leadership at Home Missions - he is God's answer to many prayers. Prayers continue that God will use him to bring a renewed passion and commitment to prayer throughout our denomination (and nations). And God is now using him to raise up a discussion on "Listening Prayer!"
The four best books I've encountered on the subject of listening prayer are:
1) Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. Dallas Willard (IVP. 1984); This is probably the classic book on listening prayer.
2) Whole Prayer, (Zondervan. 1998), by Walter Wangerin, a Lutheran pastor, underscores that (whole) "prayer" really requires both talking and listening. Much/Most/All(?) of our praying emphasizes the talking part of the conversation; i.e., most of our praying is simply like leaving a message on God's answering machine.
3) Ted Kalleman has a wonderful little book entitled, "Stark Raving Obedience," underscoring his experience and growth in listening prayer, Ted underscores the (obvious?) imperative that if we hear God speak we are required to obey. (This may be one of the reasons listening prayer a low priority for many!)
4) Can You Hear Me? Brad Jersak (Fresh Wind Press. 2003). While very helpful, this should be read carefully through "Reformed glasses" (actually, all the above books should be read carefully through "Reformed glasses.") The blessing for Bev (S) is that he is in your neighborhood (just across the border in Abbotsford at Fresh Wind Christian Fellowship - at least last I checked) and he provides periodic teaching/conferences on listening prayer. He also a a children's version designed to introduce listen prayer to elementry school children.
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