Listening Prayer and outreach (3)

When Manda first came to our youth group, she didn’t know Jesus, but she was desperately thirsty.  She struggled with her self-image and an eating disorder that was rooted in an abuse memory.  She heard testimonies of other girls who had experienced healing of memories, so she asked for some prayer.  I knew she did not know Jesus yet, but I could see no reason why He wouldn’t turn up for her.

Manda began to walk through the memory as a little girl and, sure enough, Jesus turned up.  He held out His hand and beckoned her to take it and follow Him.  Manda hesitated a little, so I asked the Lord whether He would take and hold her.  But He continued to just stand there looking at her and waiting for her to take His hand.  When she finally did so, He scooped her up in His arms immediately and washed the stain of shame from her body.  Then He put on her a perfectly white, little dress and she was filled with His love.

Then the Lord gave me a question to ask her:  ‘Manda, what do you think of Jesus now that you’ve met Him?’

‘I love Him!’ she responded.

‘And how does it feel to have that stain removed?’ I asked.

‘Wonderful!’ she said, her eyes brimming with tears.

‘Would you be willing to let Jesus wash all the stains of sin and shame from your heart?  And would you like to be friends with Him always?’

It was a no-brainer.  Not only did she commit her life to Him that day, so did her friend who had come with her for moral support!  Later, the Lord also delivered her from anorexia.  Today, she is happily married and still holding Jesus’ hand.

Can You Hear Me?  Chapter 11.

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Converting bedtime prayers into Listening prayer

We have been using Listening Prayer with the children at Explore for many years.  Children hear the Lord easier than anyone else.  It’s normal.  Children who can’t hear the Lord anymore (yes, anymore) have usually been inadvertently shut down by an adult.

Many parents are used to walking their children through some standard prayers at bedtime.  It’s not difficult to convert these rituals into three-way prayers between you, your child and Jesus.   Continue reading “Converting bedtime prayers into Listening prayer”

Listening Prayer and Church

 

 

Before our Church began, we dreamed of a Church where the pursuit of Jesus Himself was more important than any other agenda.  Most of our ‘business meetings’ still involve extended times of worship, silence and listening prayer.  We listen together, compare notes and act only when we’ve reached a consensus about what God has said.

Before each Church service, the leadership meet with up to a dozen intercessors who arrive early to pray.   Continue reading “Listening Prayer and Church”

Henri Nouwen on leaders and listening prayer

‘It is not enough for the leaders of the future to be moral people, well trained, eager to help their fellow human beings, and able to respond creatively to the burning issues of the their time.  All of that is very valuable and important, but it is not the heart of Christian leadership.  The central question is,

‘Are the leaders of the future truly women and men of God, people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice, to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate word and to taste fully God’s goodness?’

‘Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time.  Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus and they need to find there the source for their words, advice and guidance.  Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen again and again to the voice of love and to find there the wisdom and courage to address whatever issue presents itself to them.’

Henri Nouwen, “In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership” 31-32.

Invite Jesus into children’s nightmares

Nightmares

Nightmares can often be explained as either,

  • genuine spiritual oppression (Children seem to be born with their spiritual windows wide open)
  • imaginary projections from real fears
  • annoying bedtime stalling tactics

Rather than rebuking children for believing in something that is not real, I find it much more helpful to invite Jesus into the room to deal with the ‘monsters’.   Continue reading “Invite Jesus into children’s nightmares”

Listening Prayer and outreach (2)

Here’s a listening prayer exercise to try:

  • Picture Jesus (or God) greeting you in person at the gates of Heaven.  Give Him your full attention.  Then ask Him this question:
  • ‘When we finally meet face-to-face, how will You greet me?’  Watch and listen for His response.  What does He do?  What does He say?

The beauty of this exercise is that it subtly brings several important truths to the foreground for meditation.

First, the things Jesus said and did in your heart almost certainly identified your deepest need (and perhaps your deepest wound) in your heart.  For example, if he throws His arms around you and says ‘Welcome home!’, perhaps He’s addressing a need for acceptance and a fear of rejection.

Secondly, by addressing that need or wound, Jesus probably framed the gospel in words that apply specifically to you.  What did the good news sound like to you?  Can you rephrase it in the form of a promise?  Ask the Lord to bring someone across your path who is ready to meet with Him.  He may highlight that person for you, or, if you prefer, He will often compel them to bring up the topic of God with you.  I dare you to invite them to meet Jesus for themselves.  You could tell them, ‘I won’t speak for Him, but I’m sure He’d be willing to meet with you directly.’  When you use this question in outreach, those with whom you share will reveal exactly what the good news needs to sound like to them!

Third, Jesus’ words and actions in that picture are likely to be an invitation to be received today, not just for the day of your demise or His return.  For example, ‘I accept you today‘ or ‘I am with you today‘.

In that case, during outreach, you can ask, ‘What was Jesus asking you?  Would you like to receive it?  Are there any barriers that prevent you from accepting it?  How can they be removed?’  If the person doesn’t know, they can ask Him.

  • As they start to hear His voice, you could take them through some of the friendship questions here.
  • Tell them about the Meeting Place and ask them whether they would like Jesus to provide one.  Let them ‘taste and see that the Lord is good.’  Watch Jesus the evangelist share with them directly.

 

Can You Hear Me?  Chapter 11.

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Listening Prayer and outreach

If Jesus came to your town and made Himself available in a local tea room, would you go and meet Him?  A one-to-one meeting where you could ask any question and hear, see or sense His answers.  Of course you would.  This series we’ve been following at Explore has demonstrated that you are able and already do exactly this kind of thing.  Without intimate conversation with Jesus, claims of a ‘personal relationship’ with Him ring a bit hollow.  We have learned that we do encounter Christ through listening prayer.

But let’s take the analogy further.  If you knew that Jesus was available in that cafe, would you tell other people about Him?  What would you tell them?  You might say, ‘Jesus is real’ or ‘Jesus is alive!’  If they expressed interest or skepticism, you would certainly add, ‘You can meet Him!  Come and see for yourself!  I can take you there!  You should hear for yourself what He has to say!’

“First we believed in Jesus because of what you said, but now we believe because we heard Him ourselves. We know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”  John 4 v 42.

Can You Hear Me?  Chapter 11.

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Listening Prayer in making decisions (c)

The friend of God who lives by faith is led mainly by the Spirit’s peace.  Stepping out in faith doesn’t always feel peaceful to our flesh,  but peace reigns in our hearts before God when we are aligned with His will, even in difficult circumstances.   If a direction I’m taking is not pleasing Him or not best for me, the Spirit would convict me with a lack of peace, and, if necessary, get a message to me.

Consulting God includes living daily in conversation with Him.  Before my head leaves the pillow each morning, I like to ask questions: Continue reading “Listening Prayer in making decisions (c)”

Listening Prayer in making decisions (b)

Friends of God don’t fear taking risks or making mistakes.  Those who hesitate to act because they fear making mistakes betray a misunderstanding of God.  Faithfulness is not judged by your success, but by faith and obedience.  In this way, you honour God’s request to risk everything.  What you believe you lose, gets counted as gain.

Friends of God who live by faith and consult the Lord are led by the Spirit into God’s purposes.

Can You Hear Me?  Chapter 8.

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