People can listen to the Holy Spirit better than you think they can. At a recent consultation I did, I started out the way I usually do: meeting with the leaders to unpack their strengths, concerns, and vision. Then I led them into a time of questions and listening to God.
The first question was, “Lord, what should we be asking you?” From there, the questions flowed, often triggering one another. “What do you have for us?” “What people do you want us to serve and reach?” “How do you want us to contribute to the Kingdom?” “What’s really needed?” “Where are you working?” “Who are you calling to join us?” “How can we best invest our resources?” We were very strict about people making no statements, only asking questions. That includes no preambles to questions.
Prayer is often more powerful when you’re in listening mode than when you’re in talking mode. When we talk, we express ourselves, complain, tell God what you think he wants. But in a disciplined listening mode, we can learn. That posture creates a fresh way of doing prayer so you’re not just rehearsing what you’ve already thought of. Approaching prayer in a different way can open us up to greater receptivity and to generate insights.
In the case of meeting with the leaders at the consultation, when I went through the questions they generated afterwards, unpacked them and did a rough sort, I realized that 80% of the recommendations I made later that weekend flowed directly out of them trying to listen to God and hear what was on his heart.