Taken from Michael Frost’s book, Surprise the World!, the third habit of highly missional people is to listen for the Holy Spirit’s voice.
For Christians, the Holy Spirit is our constant friend and endless supply of strength and guidance. Without Him, we are subject to get off course and falter in sin. We need to set apart time to stop talking, quiet our hearts, and ask Him to speak to us. This is no small task in the busy culture we live in, especially for the extroverts among us. But we need to listen to God’s voice, especially if we want to be instruments of His love and peace. Otherwise, how are we going to be salt and light if we are hurried and harried like so many around us?
The Holy Spirit will never instruct against God’s Word. He often gives us understanding and/or a realization through His still small voice.
Bruce Demarest (Satisfy Your Soul) writes: A quieted heart is our best preparation for all this work of God. . . . Meditation refocuses us from ourselves and from the world so that we reflect on God’s Word, His nature, His abilities, and His works . . . . So we prayerfully ponder, muse, and “chew” the words of Scripture. . . . The goal is simply to permit the Holy Spirit to activate the life-giving Word of God.
So how are we to take this challenge of silence and solitude as a missional habit? Frost gives the following advice:
Set Aside a Designated Time
Start with one designated time block a week for 15-20 minutes. View it as a special time between you and God. Don’t count your designated time when you are on the run.
Find a place free from noise and interruptions. Avoid sensory distractions: touch, sights, sounds, smells, taste. The quieter your surroundings, the better one can listen to the Holy Spirit. Find a comfortable position in a chair and close your eyes. Allow the distractions in your mind to dissipate, which usually takes 15-20 minutes.
Let God In
Begin your time by simply enjoying God’s presence. Don’t ask questions (something I need to work on!), or tell the Holy Spirit what you need or want. He knows before we do. Don’t listen to the Enemy’s lies either, reminding you of your unworthiness and sins. Remember how much God loves you. I know this sounds cliché, but let his love wash over you. For He’s the One who created you in the first place. His Spirit longs to dwell in your heart, the temple He created for Himself. Try to focus your thoughts with a simple centering prayer: Abba, peace, grace, love or Jesus’ prayer from Luke 18:13: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Frost writes: Centering prayer is different from classic Eastern mediation, which is attempting to empty your mind by pushing thoughts away or by having no thoughts. Christian contemplative practices expert Phil Fox Rose says that when engaging in centering prayer, the key is to “resist no thought.” Most of us simply can’t stop thinking anyway. Our minds are constantly racing. If we make having no thoughts the goal, we’ll get discouraged. In centering prayer, we let thoughts happen, but we don’t engage them.”
Follow God’s Promptings
We need to be governed by the Spirit’s promptings. Frost writes: The Spirit might bring to your mind the name or face of a person you are to bless or eat with. He might convict you of sin or encourage you in your faithfulness. He might prompt you to reengage with someone you blessed last week. . . . If we allow the Spirit to guide us, we will be free to enjoy our appetites in a redeemed, godly fashion.
How do we know if the prompting is of the Holy Spirit? You will sense His presence in your heart. He will reward you with the fruit of love, joy, peace, etc.
Adding to the previous challenges, here is our challenge for the week:
- Bless three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
- Eat with three people, at least one of whom is not a member of your church.
- Listen – Spend at least one period of the week listening for the Spirit’s voice.