By Will Truesdell and Joe Moore

Listening Prayer Full Day Workshop

Basic Instructions for Trainer: The overall schedule of a full day (or two hour) training is below, followed by more detailed instruction of each session of the training. For the scriptures, the passages are included, which you can copy and print the one you choose to use. At the very end are two handouts that are part of the group listening prayer training.

OVERALL SCHEDULE

See handout: Listening Prayer Overview.pdf

Pre Workshop Assignment: ListeningPrayer_Final-1.pdf by Jon Ball and Lina Sanchez Herrera

What follows are detailed instructions for each session:

Scripture Study

We have provided two options for the morning Scripture study: 1 Samuel 3 and Luke 3-4. Pick one. We have also provided a PDF file that you can print before hand and give to your team members. Instructions for leading each option are listed below.

Option 1- Guiding Questions for 1 Samuel 3

  • 1 Samuel 3 Handout: 1 Samuel 3.pdf
  • What is Samuel’s experience of hearing God speak?
  • What is the content of God’s message?  How does Samuel respond to the message?
  • What can we learn about listening to God from this passage?

Introduction (5-10 minutes)

Introduce the theme of listening prayer –

            Throughout all of Scripture God is presented as speaking to individuals and peoples

            It is a discipline, and like any discipline needs to be practiced.

            This is an introductory study on the topic    

Historic background

Post-Exodus, Israel living in Promised Land, no king, ruled by tribal leaders and, when necessary, a judge who God raises up as a deliverer to lead the twelve tribes in overcoming the oppression of their neighboring nations.  Shiloh was the center of worship, but there was no center of government at this time.  Jerusalem had not been taken yet.

Inductive Study (20-30 Minutes)

  • Begin by reading the passage together as a team. 
  • Then give 20-30 minutes of individual study time.

Group Reflection on Passage (20-30 Minutes)

  • General observations
    • What did you notice?  What caught your attention?
    • What questions did the passage raise for you?
    • What do you learn about Samuel? Eli? The LORD?
  • Listening Prayer topics in passage
    • Samuel doesn’t recognize the LORD’s voice and needs help to interpret the experience
    • The LORD doesn’t cease speaking during Samuel’s confusion.
    • Samuel’s response to the message is fear and is accompanied by the decision to keep silent
    • Eli is Samuel’s community for discerning his experience with God
    • Both prior to recognition and after the message is received
    • Hearing God can be both confusing and disturbing

Conclusion (5 Minutes)

This is just one example of an initial encounter of listening to God in the Old Testament. Just as it took time and mentoring for Samuel to recognize God’s voice it will be for us, too. Listening prayer always involves discernment and needs to be done in the context of community

Option 2 Luke 3-4

Introduction to the scripture: (5-10 Minutes)

  • Luke 3-4 Handout:Luke 3-4.pdf
  • Goal=to get a glimpse Jesus listening to the Father
  • Setting = beginning of Jesus ministry – a critical time
  • Our approach = a focused inductive study with guiding questions.

Individual Study (20-30 Minutes)

 Questions to consider:

  • What do you learn from Jesus about listening prayer and hearing from God?
  • What practices did Jesus engage in that connect to listening to God?
  • What might Jesus say to us about listening prayer – both encouragement and warning?

Group Discussion (30-45 Minutes)

 (SG = if you have a larger group, this would be a place to have them work in small groups)

  • Invite observations and questions in general. (SG)  What did people notice?  What questions came up?  Focus these on the topic.
  • Discuss the prompted questions more in detail.
    • Take visible notes for group on 3 different spaces (newsprint, whiteboard…) that summarize the answers to the three questions.
  • Ask:  (SG)  Looking at our notes from this passage, work on what you think the top 5 ideas around listening prayer would be.  Record your notes.
    • Share group thoughts on this (circle them on the notes, or make a new note-sheet with these).
  • Group Debrief:
    • turn to a neighbor and communicate to them what you have learned about listening prayer from Jesus today.

Key points that will apply to the training, to be highlighted in the discussion above (as they come up, or you can proactively work them in). 

  • Communal discernment with Jesus in union with the Father (His Word and in Prayer) and Spirit.  Jesus is not on his own here.  While unique, this points to our need to submit our own hearing to a larger community for discernment. 

Response (5-10 Minutes)

  • Pray together for the day that we might be in a posture like Jesus.
  • Pray for what we need from the day.

Individual Listening Prayer Experience

(60 Minutes) See handout: Individual Listening Prayer Experience.pdf

Individual Listening Prayer Teaching

Objectives

  • Review principles of Listening Prayer learned in morning
  • Discuss cautions to be aware of in the practice
  • Give a written example of one person’s experience – C. Carney article

Overview: (15 Minutes)

  • Key principles and cautions (use info from the article by Lina/Jon)
    • Principles: God is present and is the Communicator. Listening prayer is a way of increasing our faith and interaction with God. We affirm God’s word in community.
    • Cautions: Listening prayer without context of Scripture  can result in subjectivism and Isolated discernment
  • Focus
    •  Hearing God’s expression of love and acceptance. Listen for guidance, discernment, and direction.
    • Be aware of God’s presence and open to his intentions and plans.
  • Reminders
    • Learning to recognize God’s voice / interaction takes time. Make space in your schedule daily to listen and respond. Scripture is the basis for right discernment
  • Key practices – “how
    • Create time for quiet and a posture of openness and humility
    • Acknowledge God’s presence and state your openness to hear and respond
    • If you have a question or discernment issue, hold it before God in humility and submission
    • Receive what God gives – sometimes it is the gift of your acknowledgement of God’s presence and your openness
    • Take what you’ve heard to your close community and listen for their advice and responses (make explicit here the communal nature of discernment.)
    • Test what you hear by reflecting on its harmony with the breadth of Scripture
    • When clear, respond in obedience to any direction given – Jesus model – hear, go and do
    • Use Discipleship Cycle process – hear, respond, debrief

A Model of Listening Prayer (10 Minutes)

Group Conversation (15 Minutes)

  • What steps did Carolyn take in listening?
  • What forms did God’s communication take?
  • In what ways did Carolyn respond to the word she was given?
  • Some observations that might be made:
    • In posture of worship and openness
    • Saw the pregnant woman – paid attention
    • Noted the inner “nudge” – responded
    • Exploration in prayer – “asking God what this was about, what was he trying to say to me”
    • Observation and Listening - Pregnant / offering / ministry / Offering gives birth to ministry
    • Gave space – listened more – She was the offering
    • HS – Rom. 12:1 – present your bodies
    • She pondered and talked with God – “How do you want me this week to offer myself to you, to present my body as a living sacrifice?”
    • Simone Weil quote – “Attention is the only faculty of the soul which gives us access to God.”

 Teaching: Listening Prayer in Groups or Teams (30 Minutes )

Why Listening Prayer in Groups? (10 Minutes)

Story:  share a story (if you have one) about how you have seen listening prayer in a team/group be transformative or effective.

Example: In New England, at one of our annual regional staff conferences, we included a space for the entire staff team to do listening prayer for our region.  We divided the room into the area teams, and prayed for God to speak to us about where he might be leading us next as a region.  Each team then used feedback and discernment to identify the key things they believed God was speaking.  These were recorded, then shared for the whole region to hear.

   Repeatedly, we saw a pattern emerge in what was shared from each area.  God was using images and scriptures (about water, rivers and overflowing) which communicated that we needed to raise our eyes to the ways God could do more among us than we were capable of producing through our current methods and training, and to be ready for this, even if it felt a bit like chaos. 

   The result was that the entire staff team began to lead with greater faith and expectancy over the course of the following year, with an openness to the unexpected. Overall our region has a culture of moving in faith to see more happen among us.  We have seen great fruit come out of this time (growth, conversions, new staff, etc).

Ways that Listening prayer can be part of teams:

  • Seeking God’s voice for discernment on an important decision:  e.g. a Fall Conference theme; focus of ministry for a year, where to plant next in an area or campus…Before a major event/outreach/initiative to meet with God for any guidance, encouragement, etc.  (like siblings going to dad before they leave the house for an event!)
  • As part of team meetings to purposefully include God in the team, helps to focus the team, to remember our core priorities, and to actively be following God in our structure
  • Group listening for the sake of an individual for discernment, clarity, guidance.

Group Listening Prayer Process (10 Minutes)

See handout: Group Listening Prayer Process.pdf

Teach through this step by step - briefly, saving more of the teaching for the question time after. 

Questions (10 Minutes)

  • Field any questions about the process.

Experience: Listening Prayer in Groups or Teams (60 Minutes)

Divide into groups to practice listening prayer: (10 Minutes)

  • Goal:  In group or team, to experience Listening Prayer in a significant and meaningful way.
  • If this is a small team (e.g. an area team), then you can do this with the whole team.
  • If the group is larger and made up of various teams, try to group people in the most natural teams they would be part of.
  • If it is a random group, then they can have 1 individual be a presenter for the group to do listening prayer.
  • If you have time, and you are on campus (e.g. on a potential plant) then group(s) can be sent out to do this exercise using the campus as the subject for listening. 
    • e.g. a staff/AD could give them the topic they want to hear from God about for that campus or work on the campus. 

Group Listening Prayer (50 Minutes)

Here, guide the group(s) through the process outlined in the teaching time and on the handout.   You will give the cues to begin and end each time, and instruct them for each section.

(If on a campus and they are sent out, appoint one person in group to walk through the handout with the timing below as a guide). 

  • 5 mins - Explore & Clarify
  • 5 mins - Prepare
  • 15 mins - Listen
  • 15 mins - Share and Discern
  • 5 mins - Conclude (on campus, do this on return)

Debrief: (15 Minutes)

(have groups on campus return and discuss these questions to share)

  • What did you find encouraging/effective or challenging/ineffective about doing Listening prayer in a group setting?
  • How could you envision integrating this more into your leadership?  Or what causes any hesitation in doing this?
  • What more do you think you need to lead this with others?

Integration:

  • What are your top 3 “take-aways” from this in terms of learning or practice of listening prayer?
  • What can we incorporate into our individual ministries and teams?

What is your next step in developing this?