Listening Prayer

The practice of listening to God has played such a fundamental role in YWAM that YWAM’s founder, Loren Cunningham, focused on this subject in his book about the history of YWAM’s early years. The book is called Is That Really You, God?YWAM’s third Foundational Value says, “YWAM is committed to creating with God through listening to Him…”

But how to do that? In the following article, prepared for a day of prayer, one of YWAM’s leaders, Lynn Green, illustrates the importance of listening to God and gives some suggestions of how to enter into this vital practice.

Listening to God

We know that today the Lord wants to strengthen one of our earliest and most important foundation stones—hearing and obeying God. So, on this prayer day, we are going to focus on listening to God. This is because we have had a clear and repeated call to strengthen our willingness to hear and obey.

Much of this prayer day, whether you meet for a long time or just an hour or two, should be spent listening to the Holy Spirit. We are sometimes uncomfortable with silence in our prayer meetings, but there is no way to have a quiet and listening spirit without some silence in our lives.

The following quotes are some of the words that have been brought to members of our leadership team from a faithful intercessor:

“The history of our mission and its founders testifies to the fact that it is the revelation of the very thoughts and ways of God that released YWAM into existence and fruitful ministry for over 50 years. Therefore, sitting before the word of God, guided by the Holy Spirit and with a longing to fellowship with Him and hear His voice have become foundational to everything we do in YWAM.

“Revelation comes to those who take the time to seek Him in the secret place; the reward always is the blessedness of His presence. It is the revelation of His passionate love for this world and us that moves us to radical obedience to the Great Command (love the Lord and one another), and Great Commission (go into all the world and preach the good news). But, how can we obey Him step by step, if we have not heard Him?

“This will always be the great challenge to busy people like me and others, to sit and hear Him for every situation in our personal lives and ministry before we move. But I am convinced that blessings and victories are pending on my listening and receiving revelation from God for every situation.”

Many of us older YWAMers are like King Asa in 2 Chronicles 14-16; when we were young and did not know what to do, we waited upon God and acted in radical obedience. When we got older and more experienced, we began to lean on our experience too much.

So, today, let us re-declare our dependence on listening to God and obeying!

We are going to ask some big questions today, so don’t cut the time short! As we begin to wait on God, we will first turn to a question that Joy Dawson urged us to ask:

1. Lord, are there any areas of disobedience in my life?

Disobedience blocks our ears so that we no longer hear His voice in the intimate detailed revelation He wants to give us.

What other hindrances for communication are there in my life, or in my team, that hinder proper communication with God, with one another and with leaders?

We don’t want to drag up issues that have been repented of and forgiven, but if we are convicted by the Holy Spirit, write down what God is saying, then turn from that disobedience and receive His forgiveness. It might be helpful to do that in groups of two or three people.

If you have been listening for God’s voice and seeking intimacy with Him but not sensing His presence, this is the most likely cause.

Now let us ask a second personal question:

2. Lord, what is on your heart for me today?

Yes, this is a very broad and general question, but we tend to get into ruts, and so this makes room for God to bring new things into our lives or to underline what He has already said.

Again, write down what the Spirit of God is saying to you and then share it with one or two others. (It is possible that the Lord will have spoken something to you that is just for you and no one else and you can feel free to keep that to yourself.)

The third question is:

3. What is on your heart for our YWAM team/center?

You might want to review briefly the word of the Lord to you thus far. Remember that the Lord can speak to His people as He chooses. He will often give part of the picture to one person and another part to someone else. He will speak to anyone He chooses and that might be one of the newest members of our team.

Take the time to hear from everyone and write down what is shared. Be sure to take every word seriously and see what emerges. Often, when the Lord speaks to a body of people, His word is not clear without everyone’s input.

YWAM has always been called to serve the whole Church. We are part of the Church, and must be committed to working in the power of the Holy Spirit to build up and strengthen Christ’s Body without any prejudice against other Christian organizations or denominations or confessions. So the fourth question is:

4. What is on your heart for your church today?

Be open to any conviction the Holy Spirit might bring. It is not unusual for mission teams to be forgetful or even critical of the rest of the Body of Christ. We cannot mobilize the Church to reach the world if we have any critical or superior attitudes. This question might lead to repentance and cleansing before any words of direction or ministry emphasis.

From the beginning, YWAM has been called to the whole world, so the final question is:

5. What is on your heart for the world today?

Let the Holy Spirit lead you into intercession for the unreached or the poor or victims of injustice—however He leads. Remember that many of our most fruitful ministries have begun in prayer meetings just like this.

We must emphasize again that we are called to hear and to obey. Review what the Lord has said. If there are implied action points, then be sure to follow through.

We have just spent time sitting and listening in God’s presence. Jesus told His disciples that, if they would abide (remain and rest) in Him they would bear much fruit. This is one of the mysteries of the kingdom of God. We do not bear more fruit by more activism, by being very busy people. We are most fruitful when we hear and obey.

Let’s finish this prayer time by renewing our commitment to be individuals (and teams and communities) who take the time to cultivate intimacy with Jesus. Let us renew our dependence upon hearing God and connecting with Him in fellowship constantly. And let us be sure to be His obedient children, doing what He says!

–Lynn Green

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