Are prayer times with your team feeling stale or forced? A listening prayer practice of asking God questions can help break that cycle and breathe fresh and unifying life into corporate prayer.
Each time we practiced this kind of prayer, we were surprised by the level of richness of insight yielded by this type of prayer exercise. The process maximizes listening and serves to open up vision and consider new ideas.
Asking God Questions in 3 Steps
This 3-Step process disciplines people to listen, to wait, to ponder, and to ask more questions before arriving at any kind of conclusions. It challenges people to wait before being able to tell others what they were hearing, learning, or seeing from God.
1. Create a Listening Atmosphere
Tell people ahead of time that the prayer time will be all listening and asking questions. No one may make statements, or give any kind of introduction, preamble, or explanations.
When you gather simply ask, “Lord, what should we be asking you?” and spend time together listening.
What follows will be periods of silence, interspersed with additional questions voiced aloud as the Spirit leads.
Act as or assign a scribe to write down all of the questions as they are spoken.
2. Ask God Questions
It starts by throwing out this general question to the group: “Lord, what should we be asking you?”
For example, one team of mine responded to that initial question by asking, “What would it look like for us to love you, God?” (Other experiences have moved in directions of loving others, serving others, or making disciples.)
Some additional questions that stemmed from those first two included: “Where can we see you?” “How can we see you?” “In whom can we see you?” “What do you want from us?” “What kinds of actions demonstrate love to you?” “Who are you calling us to serve?” “Which ways are hard for us to show you love, Lord?” and “What challenges are you calling us toward?”
Allow the process to lengthen to about 10 or 15 minutes, and you will hear many more questions—each one building on the next.
3. Reflect on Themes
It’s helpful if you write all the questions down so when you eventually close the time of prayer you can transition to a debrief of the experience.
You can then ask for people’s general reflections.
“What words or images or pictures came to mind as you were praying?”
“What themes or categories are you noticing?”
This practice releases the agenda from our hands and allows God to redirect our attention. Whether it is sorrow and frustration or gratitude, hope and calling God has a way of bringing out what needs to be addressed.
An Undivided Heart
“I have used Bob Logan’s books in the seminary and in pastoral leadership settings, but this one is written for my friends and neighbors.” —Kendra Diehl, VP of Ministry Formation and Innovation, The Master’s Institute Seminary, Regional Leader for The Harvest Network International
The state of disunity in our current culture was heavy on our hearts when my friend, Ralph Plumb and I wrote this book. Where better to start bridging the gaps than within one’s own heart?
An Undivided Heart: Living and Loving like Jesus isn’t an instruction manual with step-by-step procedures. It is a journey, unique to you, that begins with your unique relationship with Jesus. Living with an undivided heart will naturally lead to living an undivided life. Cultivation of the heart flows into action.
Are you having a hard time concentrating? It may be time to refresh your listening skills. Good listeners are good at concentrating on the communication process. Hence, good listeners are good concentrators.
Working at being a good listener is just as important as making your ideas understandable to others. Most of us think of listening as a passive activity where we take in information sent by others. Effective listening is hearing what people are really saying. As with any other skill, listening needs to be practiced to be mastered.
Check out these resources to help you master effective listening:
Listening Effectiveness Profile: This is the place to start. This competency-based instrument has been designed to help you understand more about your relative skills critical to active listening and give you a picture of your overall ability to listen effectively. This will help you determine where to target your development activities in order to improve your skills.
Effective Listening Skills Builder: Like any other skill, listening needs to be practiced if it is to be mastered. This booklet will help to raise awareness about those things we need to concentrate on to become better listeners.
Effective Listening Coaching Guide and Storyboard: Coaches, this powerful resource is for you! It unpacks how to help others grow their listening skills in 4 stages.