Learning to Pray by Listening to God Talk
The best way to learn a language is to listen to it. Children understand what is being said long before they start forming words that make sense. Prayer is like that. Luke tells us that a disciple was listening to Jesus pray and then asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1). And Jesus gave him a model prayer to begin shaping his prayers.
Listening takes concentration, something many do not engage in when they are reading the Bible. The Bible is God’s word to us and for us. As you read the Bible, hear God speaking His word to you, and for you to pray back to Him. This is how a child learns to talk; by listening and saying back what he/she has just heard.
Try this: Each day, corresponding to the day of the month, read one of the Psalms, and pray it back to God. For example, if today is the 19th, start with Psalm 19. Read, listen, and pray a different Psalm each day. If the month has 31 days, repeat it the next day to stay with the right date and Psalm. The last number will always match. In five months you will have prayed through the Psalms and can start over.
Psalm 119 is long, 176 verses long. But it is divided up into 22, eight-verse sections. The whole Psalm is a prayer. Along with the Psalm that you are praying for the day, take one of the sections from 119 and make it your prayer for that day. On day 23, either go back to the first section, or work your way back. In a month you will have prayed through this powerful prayer. After 12 times (1 year) through this Psalm your prayers will begin to sound different; you will begin to learn to pray by saying God’s word back to Him.
During this “listening and praying back what you hear” prayer time each day, the Lord will highlight a verse for you either from 119 or from your Psalm for the day. Write this one down on an index card and memorize it throughout the day for a continuous prayer experience.
This daily exercise will begin to shape your prayer life and words you speak to God in prayer. You will be learning to pray by listening. God’s word will reveal God’s will and before you know it, you will begin asking God for what He wants rather than trying to convince Him of what you want. When this happens, His will is done on earth as it is in heaven; by the spoken word! AMEN, AMEN.