Learning to Listen

One of my favorite things about a good yoga class is the savasana at the end. The physical work has prepared me for this stillness. I love finding the pause between the exhale and the inhale and staying there in that deep silence for a moment longer. I love this place of stillness. It’s a place designed for listening. As a Christian doing yoga, the voice I listen for is the voice of a loving Father God. But so many people don’t know how to discern this voice.

I’ve begun teaching a class on Listening Prayer, so I thought I would share some of the tools I use to listen to God here.

The revealed word of God, the Bible, is always the touchstone for hearing God. It is our “central reference point by which all other forms of listening prayer are kept in proper perspective,” as Richard Foster says in Celebration of Discipline. It’s also a great place to begin training yourself to recognize God’s voice.

Begin this exercise with a short verse. I often use Galatians 4:6. And because you are sons (daughters), God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying “Abba, Father!”

Sit down and relax. Open your hands as though you are willing to receive a gift. Think about God’s love for you and his presence with you.

Repeat the verse to yourself several times. Pause between repetitions and respond. Whatever arises in your heart, just speak it aloud. You may find you have a question, a request for wisdom or understanding, an expression of gratitude or praise. Respond with whatever spontaneously comes to mind. Then flow right back to repeating the verse. Don’t fret or strive, just continue to repeat the verse if no response comes to you.

Then take a few minutes to be still. Ask God to speak to you. Again, don’t fret. Just allow space and time for hearing his voice.

Practice saying the verse again, as though it was God’s voice speaking it to you. After all, the scriptures are God’s word to you. So hear it like this:

And because you are my son (daughter), I have sent the Spirit of my Son into your heart, (insert your name) crying, “Abba, Father!” 

Keep a notebook for recording what you hear. That way you can come back to God’s words to you again and again.