When I was little my parents taught me to pray. We would pray before meals, before bedtime, at church, and at various other times throughout the week. When I was a kid I didn’t have a ton of pressing questions. I was curious about things but didn’t have a desperation to hear God’s voice.
It wasn’t until I was older that I began to feel my prayer life was out of balance. My questions got bigger and I began to feel the need to hear God’s voice. I needed his response to my big, life questions. I realized I had spent my life talking to God without pausing to hear what he had to say in return. Prayer isn’t talking to God – it’s talking with God. We need to spend time being still in his presence and letting his Spirit speak to us.
You may be familiar with this passage from Matthew:
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
Spending time in silent prayer can change our perspective on this passage. It’s easy to read this and focus on the words “ask, seek, and knock”. Maybe we see those words and think that’s what will bring us to the next level in our prayer lives. So we press in harder in prayer. We keep asking, seeking, and knocking. We keep doing all of the talking. We focus so much on taking those action steps in our prayer lives that we forget about allowing room for God’s response.
Hearing God’s response to our asking, seeking, and knocking is equally important if we want a balanced prayer life and deeper relationship with him. God wants to give us things. He wants to be found and open up doors to us. We need to take the time to listen and allow the space for him to speak. We need to train our hearts and our ears to listen.
So how can we begin to create room for God’s response to our prayers? There are practical steps we can take to begin to listen.
1. Quiet your mind and be still before the Lord.
Chances are, this will be a challenge. We live busy lives and it’s hard to shut down all of the noise. Take a few minutes to settle down and take a few deep breaths. If your mind wanders, gently bring yourself back to a place of quietness.
2. Invite God into the places where your mind wanders
If your mind continues to wander to other things, simply invite God into those thoughts. Maybe the way your mind is wandering isn’t as random as you think. Maybe the topics your mind travels to when you’re trying to be still and quiet are topics that reveal something about your heart. Maybe the Holy Spirit is revealing things to you that you haven’t completely handed over to God. Maybe your mind isn’t wandering so much as the Holy Spirit is guiding it.
3. Pay attention to where your mind wanders
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your own heart to you. Continue to focus on the Lord and rest in his presence.
4. Take notes – answer these questions in your prayer journal.
What came to mind in your quiet time with God? What is being revealed about your heart and priorities? What does God have to say about it?
The Lord says, I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.