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
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.