This is a study that was started some time ago, but it fits perfect with the two recent studies Who Do We Pray To? and Praying In Jesus’ Name and so I include it here updated to coincide with those two other studies.
John 10:3-5 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
John 10:16 “And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”
John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.”
When we pray, to our Heavenly Father, we are not only communicating with Him, heart to heart and spirit to Spirit, but we are also communing with Him; abiding or residing in His presence listening as well as speaking. It is a precious gift that our Heavenly Father has bestowed upon us. Many times though we have been taught that we go to the Father when we have needs. Oh yes, we can praise and rejoice in the Lord, but notice that it is usually one sided, us doing the talking and us doing the praising.
As you can see in the Scriptures cited at the beginning of this message, communication and communing as the Father intends is and should be two ways. In fact as a Christian, it is so much more important for us to listen to the Lord, more so than to do all the talking! We need to practice what Lazarus’ sister, Mary did, and that is sitting at His feet, hearts open and taking in all He has to offer us.
If we practice doing all the talking and do not take time to put our spirits and minds at ease so as to “hear” what the Spirit is saying to us, that is selfishness, which as many of you know from my teaching is just the opposite of true or real love. You can’t have a selfish heart and sit in the presence of our Lord at the same time. When we go to Him, we must have a heart and spirit that is not only bold in our communicating TO Him, but also sensitive to hearing FROM Him!
You will find that if you practice the art of “listening” that your heart and mind will praise the Lord and give Him the glory while at the same time, being aware of His voice speaking to your heart and spirit. It is His voice that leads us in safety and in the paths that He has established for us. When we practice “listening” to Him and His voice, we cannot be swayed by the shouts of the enemy that can seem so right at times.
We all have experienced incidents when we have either seen a situation arise or have been placed right smack in the middle of a situation and in our minds we have heard the loud call to do something that at the moment may seem right and righteous. But the Bible tells us that our Lord calls us and talks to us in that “still small voice,” not the shout that carries above the din of any given situation.
It is only when our spirit is calm in the crisis of the storm that we are able to hear the true instructions of the Holy Spirit. When you can practice calming your spirit in the midst of the battle you will usually recognize that the “voice” you hear quietly, almost whispering, is in direct contrast to the shouts that are coming at you from every side.
Hearing the Lord was so important to David, the writer of the majority of the Psalms that in the midst of personal crisis he wrote this in Psalm 143:
Ps 143:8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.
David knew that only by HEARING and LISTENING to the Lord would he know which way to walk and he knew it was the only way to come out of his crisis successfully. Notice that David also cried out and pleaded to the Lord to “cause” him to hear. David may have caused himself a lot of problems, but he ALWAYS knew Who to turn to save him. This is the reason why he was considered to be “the man after God’s own Heart.”
This is also why the Apostle John was so adamant when he told us that we would KNOW the voice of our Lord if we were truly His. Our Shepherd is a GENTLE Shepherd albeit a GREAT One too. Sometimes we overlook the gentleness in the character of His Greatness. It is His calmness in the bustle of life’s situations that is meant to give us peace and comfort and assurance. It is the stranger’s voice or the enemy’s voice that wants confusion and discord and dissension to have reign. A stranger is not concerned about your personal peace, but rather wants to move you and your brothers and sisters to distraction. The only way he knows how to do that is by shouting; and yes, maybe he is lacing a little truth in those loud orders, but even a little truth is not the whole truth and therefore is rather a whole lie or deception.
Christ Jesus wants us as His sheep, as His disciples to demonstrate His character in all we do. He wants the world to see the calm in the storm, the peace in the crisis situation. The enemy on the other hand wants just the opposite and so he will work on your human nature to demand what is seemingly right towards yourself. In other words, he tempts us to show the world how we are right and have been wronged thus showing the world ourselves and leaving Christ Jesus out of the picture.
We need to remember that each and every one of us have been called and given a gift that is meant to show the world the TRUTH. Contrary to popular teaching, we haven’t been saved or redeemed just so that we could go to Heaven. On the contrary, everything that our Lord does for us is so that we can be empowered to show the world the SELFLESS nature of Christ and His gifts to man. We were redeemed to show those that are lost that there truly is a better way and that this is just a training period for eternity.
Now, I’ve said all that to remind you that one of the greatest actions we can take on behalf of others is to pray for them. We aren’t to just pray for our own needs as the Bible tells us that our Father in Heaven knows those needs before we can even ask.
Mt 6:8b “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
Knowing this in our hearts and spirits allows us to concentrate more on others when we enter that prayer time, than on ourselves and it is during this time that if we “listen” to the Lord, we can hear His instructions how best to not only pray for others, but how to act toward others and especially in specific situations.
When we listen, this puts the burden of what to do and how to act on the Holy Spirit’s ability to guide and lead us rather than having us worry about whether our prayers for someone will be answered or not.
I sincerely hope that as intercessors and prayer warriors, you realize and recognize that we do a mighty ministry or service by standing in the gap for others. It is the example that Jesus most wanted to establish in us, but it is so much more important in the light of this to do what Jesus also demonstrated, and that is to get away to be alone in the presence of the Father. We need to hear Him; we need to feel His love and presence in our hearts. It is that nearness to Him that gives us the continued strength to pray effectively and fervently for others. It is only by our nearness to the Lord and our ability to actually attune our spirits to His that allows us to realize the joy that He has in us and thus strengthening us for continued service.
If you never spend time just listening to His Spirit and just relaxing in His presence, it is too easy to become “burned out” in relation to our service to others that the Lord allows us to be in contact with. I have personally seen too many people and especially pastors and teachers who say they reach a point where they don’t even know if the Lord hears them anymore. What a sad situation to be in, but it is usually brought on because they have gotten away from (or never practiced) actually “listening” to the Lord and letting Him direct their thoughts and hearts in specific situations. They are always trying to “second guess” the Lord and all of us at one time or another has been there and done that!
We can avoid that pitfall if we only learn to sit and listen to that “still small voice.” It isn’t just a cliché but rather a spiritual fact and truth from the Father Himself. I have stated it before and I can’t say it enough; the Lord wants and desires more than anything to have a relationship with each and every one of us like it was meant to be before Adam destroyed our ability to walk in that type of relationship. But, the Father in His great love, knew exactly what was needed to make that relationship not only possible again, but even greater than it was in the very beginning and that was by allowing us to be clothed, bathed, covered in the Blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Remember, Jesus was constantly affirming that He and the Father are ONE! When we are covered in that Blood sacrifice, what the Father sees in us is the relationship of Oneness that He has with the Son and He sees that in each of us. It isn’t the Father who isn’t availing Himself of the gift of that wonderful relationship but rather it is us by not taking the time to not only speak to the Father but to sit at His feet and also listen to Him.
Each and everyone who is reading this, I want you to try an exercise and PRACTICE sitting and trying to “listen” to the Father the next time you enter into communion or prayer with Him. Open your heart and spirit and allow the Holy Spirit to calm your mind of all the cares around you and let His Spirit guide you into that deeper relationship. See if what I am telling you is not the truth and see if you don’t come away from that time feeling more refreshed and more vitalized than you have ever felt before.
Remember this, our walk with the Lord is NOT a religion, it is a lifestyle. It is something that we live our lives by doing! It’s not some scheduled program that we allow time out of our lives for. It is something that we can do always, even when we are active doing other things. Remember what the Lord has assured and promised us:
Hebrews 13:5b For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
You must realize that He is with you in every thought and in every moment and this should be a great assurance and not something to fear. This means He is only a thought away when I want to commune with Him. It’s great and admirable to set a scheduled time where you can spend time with Him without distraction, but what I am saying is that doesn’t have to be the ONLY time you spend with Him for He is a part of your everyday life whether you are aware of it or not. This should give you the freedom to include Him in all parts of your life and also give you the liberty to practice listening to Him in all things. The more you practice listening, and especially in your quiet times, the easier it will become in the midst of life’s stormy situations. Then you will not make the mistake of listening to the thunderous voices you hear but will know instantly the thoughts of your Heavenly Father!
Brothers and Sisters, we ARE in the last days for it is so obvious by all those things going around us. Even though the warnings are there people are saying the very things the Lord said they would utter. “You’ve been saying for two thousand years the Lord would come back and He hasn’t. Where is He that was prophesied?” All you have to do is turn on the news channels and you will see the signs and hear the utterances. It should be no surprise to us as the Lord’s children.
But the importance of this is also found in Revelations, where the Lord speaking through the Apostle John stated the importance of listening to Him:
Revelation 2:7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
This isn’t some loud proclamation shouted from the hilltops and the highest buildings. The Lord specifically says “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Do you have an ear? Not physically, but do you have the desire, the willingness to hear or to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. We are the churches my brothers and sisters. We ARE what make up the church universal the Body of Christ. Are we listening? Do we have our “ears” attuned to what the Holy Spirit is trying to tell us?
In closing I want you to remember what Jesus told us; it was that His authority came from the Father and He ONLY said the things the Father told Him to say. The only way He could have done that is to be constantly listening to the Father.
There is an old saying that is oh so true; it has been said that “God made us with two ears and one mouth, so we should listen to Him twice as much as we speak to Him!”
It may be a cute saying and a good moral but it is true and if you practice it I guarantee you will find more power, more refreshing, more of every fruit of the Spirit as you take the time to open your heart to hear what He has to say to you!
God Bless You in your continued and ever deepening prayer life!