Sunday, July 8, 2012


Every now and then I get emails from individuals who somehow got a hold of a copy of A Guide for Listening and Inner-Healing Prayer. The end of Chapter One of the book reads: Whether you’re reading this book on your own or studying it as part of a small group, I have to give you fair warning: It may be hazardous to maintaining the status quo in your life and ministry. You might meet God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in such a way that He will renew and change you from the inside out.

Recently I got an email from a man from the west coast who’s been experiencing this inside out change. A friend of his gave him a copy of the book. The man wasn’t interested and tried to give the book back several times. The giver insisted that he keep it.  In his email he said it sat on his desk for quite a while gathering dust. Then on a boring May weekend, he reluctantly took a look.

His email explained that over the last few years he’d really shut down emotionally, withdrawn from his loved ones, and even from God … like he’d died on the inside. “The funny thing,” he reflected, “is that as I began to read your book, I had this feeling that it was written especially to me.” (It was, I thought to myself, as I read on :)).

“I want to tell you about the first and biggest things God has spoken to me about when I began reading the book. Namely, that God wants me to be as faithful (and more so) to Him, as I have been to my wife, and secondly, He is telling me to make time for Him. When these impressions came to me, I felt a surge of energy go through my body and it made me cry realizing I had ignored God.”

As he moved into Chapter 5, he wrote that God especially spoke to him through the listening prayer exercise. As he started, he heard some birds chirping outside that caused him to feel “peacefulness and calmness.” Reflecting on the birds, he wrote, “They are happy, calm, and at peace with their world.” This led to the realization, “I do not have to worry about fixing everything in my life, God will provide. I am struggling with trust and control.”

The book instructed, “If your struggle is with an area where you don’t feel free, ask God to uncover the emotions attached to it.”  As he listened, he was surprised by the words that came to him: “powerlessness, emptiness, guilt, rejection, grief, feeling neglected, resentment, aloneness, feeling uncomforted, loneliness.” This was the tone of how he’d felt during the last few years of his life.

Then he asked God the first time he felt these feelings.  Here’s what he wrote. “I felt all alone and on my own after a terrible car wreck when I was 6 yrs old.  My mom was severely injured … she laid all day alone in the dark. My dad worked for long hours and when he came home, he’d usually withdraw into himself. I took care of my younger siblings and myself, and no one ever talked to me about anything.  For many years I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help, but as I matured into a man I became completely self reliant, trusting in no one to meet my needs, and having no expectations of anyone because I knew they’d always let me down. Over time, I became completely emotionally detached to all of the people in my life (except my wife). I didn’t want or need anybody for anything.”

As I read his story, I wrote him that it reminded me of a Simon and Garfunkel song from the 60’s; “I am a Rock.” This song is a living reality for many in our day.
"I am a rock; I am an island. I've built walls; a fortress steep and mighty; that none may penetrate. I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain. It's laughter and it's loving I disdain."
The song closes with these self-deceiving words: "And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries."

Following the instructions, the man asked God, what is the truth? He typed, “The truth is that I am not an island, alone in the middle of the ocean.  I need other people in my life, and I need to be able to trust in them, allow them into my life. God is with me always!”

After he prayed through and renounced the lies he’d believed, the tone of his email began to change. “I feel free of those lies for the first time in my life. A picture of me sitting on a rock in a green forest with grass all around came into my mind. I was playing my guitar with all of my heart, relaxed, unhurried, peaceful, calm, and happy. In a fresh way, I realized that I am not alone to face the world; I need other people, and I need God.”

In a later email he wrote, “I have not felt or expressed emotion like this for so many years. This is all very, very amazing. Now, I can't wait to get up each morning, and open myself to God, and see what He has to say to me.”

As I’ve interacted by email with this new email friend on the West Coast, my heart has also been stirred. You may know Isaiah 40:27-31 about waiting on the Lord and mounting up with wings like an eagle. I’m going to take some liberties and paraphrase this passage from The Message Bible and apply to what I’m sensing God orchestrate in my friend’s heart day-by-day and week-by-week.

"Why would you ever complain, or, whine saying, ‘God has lost track of me. He doesn't care what happens to me?’ Don't you know anything? Haven't you been listening? God doesn't come and go. God lasts. He's Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch His breath. And He knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who allow their desperation to turn them to God – get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles; they run and don't get tired. They walk and don't lag behind."


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  3. May God continue to speak to more and more people! We may think we are free but it seems more of the Christian life is God freeing us from what we think the truth is and not what it really is than him and us molding our character. When God speaks, as we can see here, we change forever.

    I know your writing and work is definitely in the context of Christians but I have been listening to someone who has used listening prayer to bring people into his kingdom in amazing ways. What are your thoughts?


  4. Dear KTJ,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that as we walk with Christ He takes us from bondage to freedom to more freedom to even more.

    I am very interested in listening prayer with those who have not as yet entered the kingdom. Could you tell me more about this is greater detail?