The Dynamic of Listening Prayer

By Jeff Doeringer, Coordinator of Prayer Ministries

"There is, in the deepest centre of the soul, a chamber of peace where God dwells, and where, if we will only enter in and hush every other sound, we can hear His still, small voice."  A.B. Simpson

As a believer for just a few years and a student leader in Cru, I was asked to participate in an all student led prayer initiative called SPARCC (Students Praying for Awakening and Revival on College Campuses).  How can any real Christian say no to prayer, right?  So while my insides were saying no, my mouth said yes.  I was slotted to do one of the short teachings in the marathon prayer night.  I prepared and when the day came, I jumped in the car with a friend and set out for the couple hour drive.  Twenty minutes into the trip the car broke down.  I thought to myself “I’m saved.”  But my conscience made me call to see if there were any other students who hadn’t left campus for the event yet who could pick me up on the roadside.  Call after call.  What do you think I was praying for during those calls?  Nothing.  Turns out God heard my prayer.  Though as I’m writing this, the thought just occurred to me that maybe another student was praying for all obstacles to be removed from the event.   Hmmmm.  Pause for repentance.   Come on now, you’ve prayed that same prayer a time or two or worse yet, maybe it’s a feeling that exists much more often than any of us would care to admit.  Why?

Beyond the various reasons we could all come up with that would most certainly have validity, I wonder if a significant part of it has to do with form.  I grew up in a church where written prayers predominated and it felt meaningless to me.  After 25 years in evangelical churches, the spontaneous prayers, that once seemed so alive to me when all I had was written prayers, began to feel the exact same.  Oddly, I can use written prayers now and find much life in them.  However, the form I’m talking about isn’t written, spontaneous, ACTS or the like.  The form of prayer I’m talking about is the dynamic of listening.  It’s amazing to have unhindered access to God, to walk right in and pour out our hearts.  But let’s face it, we can talk and talk to God and we may walk away feeling a certain lift of our burden, but when God speaks, it’s a game changer. 

If we flipped the amount of time spent in talking prayer with listening prayer, I wonder what might happen?  What would happen to our personal life with God? What would happen to our leadership teams or elder boards?  With those all night prayer vigils Jesus seemed famous for, is that what he did? 

The burden on my heart is simply to walk with pastors, church leaders, prayer teams, pastoral staff teams and elder boards towards an atmosphere of listening.  If something resonates in this for you, call me at the office (330.336.2911) or email me at jdoeringer@cdcma.org and together we’ll log some miles in listening praying and see what happens.  If something resonates for your church, let’s find that even harder communal chamber of the soul and see how it impacts ministry. 

Each newsletter will include further thoughts, reflections and a practical exercise to try as your life of prayer keeps growing.

Experiment:  Every day for one workweek, when you arrive at the church, sit down at your desk but before you do anything, set your phone alarm for 5 minutes and then just sit before God.  This very simple exercise will help “hush every other sound” so you can hear His voice.  If you try it, I’ll take you out for lunch or coffee.  I’d like to hear what happened.