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Learning listening prayer

My book, The Art of Listening Prayer, keeps selling without any promotion from me. I think it sells because people are hungry to hear the Lord’s voice and are looking for help in doing so. Here’s how I begin the book: To me, India during the summer of 2001 might as well have been Mars…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

My book, The Art of Listening Prayer, keeps selling without any promotion from me. I think it sells because people are hungry to hear the Lord’s voice and are looking for help in doing so. Here’s how I begin the book:

To me, India during the summer of 2001
might as well have been Mars. I felt so
separated from familiar ground. As I
walked in the gray, predawn light, the beaches of Bombay began filling up with walkers and
joggers and an occasional pack of dogs.
Very little of what I saw that morning fit with my experience.

It appeared as though most
people were there for exercise, a clearing of the head, and perhaps some
conversation with companions.

I observed Hindu temples
spaced along the beach. The devout would
pause along their route, face the temple, and pray to the gods inside. However, as far as I could tell, none of them
either expected or received any answers.

The prayer life of many
Christians in America is not
unlike that of the devout Hindu on the beaches of Bombay.
Yes, we pray to God, not some man-made idol; however, the

way in
which we pray is surprisingly similar.

Often, our prayers are not
like any other normal conversation. For
many of us, they are the rote pleadings of children who know well their own
needs, but understand little about their Father. Our prayers are the symptoms of shallow,
impersonal relationships with Jesus. We
expect God to answer through circumstances and events, perhaps, but never in an


Most of my life I struggled
with the vague notion that God wanted to talk to me and I just wasn’t listening
hard enough. The God I read about in the
Bible regularly interacts not only with mankind, but with specific men and
women. The common denominator I saw in
Scripture was that these people who conversed with God were intentional and
earnest in their pursuit of a relationship with him. So, I decided to pursue him like that. At the same time I became more aware that he
was pursuing me.

While I had talked to God and
heard his voice in a variety of ways previously, in 1991 I heard him speak to
me in a profoundly personal and unmistakable way. At a time when I most needed to hear it, my
Creator told me that he loved me! I
don’t know that I ever intellectually doubted that, but to hear it from God
directly was an overwhelming experience.
It changed my life forever – I can’t go back! The two-way communication that is foundational
to all relationships is no less important for our relationship with the God who
created us to be relational beings. We
need to see for ourselves that he wants to talk with us. He wants to put the “personal” back in the
personal relationship with Jesus that we tell others we have.

Comments (9)

  • The Lord used you book to make such a profound change in my life that others began noticing and asking about it. Mind you I had already been a Christian for 10 years or so and others had already noticed the difference there. The Lord used your book to help me see His view of me, and to grow my relationship to Him beyond anything I had yet experienced. Thank you for the effort you put into it and your willingness to share. What a blessing it has been.

  • thanks for taking the time to share this, Heather. I love how God shows himself to be a personal, loving God.

  • I was told by my profs wife a couple months while i was meeting w/ her that God wanted me to be still and know that he was God so she told me that wherever i pray, that instead of praying, i should listen instead because God wanted to teach me to distinguish btwn his voice, my own voices in my head and satan’s voice yet, i laid there and did what she said for about 3 hrs, and sleeping/praying in btwn yet absolutely nothing happened i never heard anything so i’m thinking if i was doing something wrong now, would u call that listening prayer? what my profs wife told me to do??

    i was also told by someone else that i should pray for like 10 min or so and then just listen for a response from God and for the last couple of months, i have done that a number of times as well, but, w/ that too, nothing has happened and i haven’t heard anything.

    The only way that i do hear from God is thru other people Or God has lately been working on me thru my feelings, that has been changing constantly for the last 8 months or, as i have been praying or talking to God or other people, God gives me these confirmation types of things where i feel either his peace or tingling feelings but w/ listening prayer, trying to hear from him, that has never happened to me yet and i’m doing what these 2 people have told me, yet it never works and i don’t know what else to do.

  • I completely understand what Karen is saying. I too pray and long to hear Gods voice in a real and personal way. Sometime I feel so fruistrated and left out especially when I am around Christian who say “God Spoke to me and said…..” I’ve struggled with this for most of my life. I keep thinking I’m doing something wrong or that I’m not right with God or God has turned from me becuase I have not put him first all the time…in any case I’m always sure it me or then my faith begin to weaken becuase I know God knows how much I’d like to hear his voice speak to me given me the assurances I need. I would love to see how you responded to Karen or perhaps you’d share with me as well…

  • Hi Judy,

    Whatever I responded to Karen, I’ve deleted it from my computer. I’m guessing that you’re probably doing just fine and need to trust what you think you’re hearing more. My best counsel at a distance is to get someone who you trust who regularly hears from God to look over your shoulder and review your journal notes and give you feedback. Second best is to go thru my book on the subject and really give God the time and focus that he’s looking for.


  • My experience mirrors that of Judy 12/1/2007 posted above. I’ve been so frustrated & disappointed, I’ll go for weeks not praying at all. I’ve felt like giving up completely many times. Then, when out of the blue a voice I’m sure is God speaks, it turns out to be completely wrong and I’m embarrassed to have been so clueless and naive. I wonder, was it my own imagination; was it the enemy? I just don’t know. I’m completely ‘at sea’ on this issue.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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