Just get out of the way

This article is repost from one I had written for Wheaton’s Evangelism Blog called Evangel-vision published on January 9, 2014.

A month ago, I was with all of the InterVarsity staff from the great states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, and Nebraska, training them on how to lead Spirit-led conversion movements over three days. Ambitious, eh?

I don’t know if I covered all of the bases, but I’m excited about the role of listening prayer with people who have yet to follow Jesus. I have a hunch that God speaks to all people, not just to people who put the label “Christian” on their lives.

When I bought my green Honda Civic fifteen years ago, I started to notice all of the other Civics on the road. It’s like my eyes were opened to them, once I started noticing. In the same way, when I started looking for the role of listening prayer in a person’s coming to faith, I started seeing it everywhere. After making calls to faith and following up to hear someone’s story, it seemed that an experience with God was instrumental in their making a decision to trust Jesus with their lives.

That makes sense, doesn’t it?

In the age of modernity, truth — particularly propositional truth — had authority. But in postmodernity, experience carries the day.

So I started experimenting with teaching people to hear God’s voice and then inviting them to listen — regardless of their faith background — and to see if He says anything at all. Then, I’ll invite someone to follow Jesus afterward, and if they’ve heard from God, they’ll often give their lives to him.

I trained on that, sharing some of my stories.

Let me share an exciting outcome. A staff worker from Iowa, Rachel, went back to her campus the day after that conference ended. She was talking with a student, Chelsea. With the training in mind, she felt led to give some impromptu teaching on hearing God’s voice. They did some listening prayer, and Chelsea heard the phrase: “feeling like I don’t measure up.” She then looked up and said, “That’s exactly what I feel! I feel so guilty acting like a Christian when I have so many questions and doubts and know I am just acting. I have been looking at all these other religions lately and don’t know what to believe.”

So Rachel invited her to do listening prayer again to see if some of those doubts could be addressed, and they were. Then Rachel asked, “What would it look like to start something new with Jesus today? Would you be willing to follow him even if all your answers aren’t answered right away?”

And Chelsea said, “Yes!”

Sometimes I wonder if there are times we just need to get out of the way, and let God speak directly to people who don’t yet know him. In my experience, one word from God is worth a thousand sermons.

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  1. Amen! One of my favorite memories of seeing someone become Christian was seeing her respond to a all-retreat lectio divina style listening prayer– and she saw a door opening into the darkness with light pouring out of it. We were studying John 1. She was an artist and an international student from a closed country. She knew it was God speaking to her, and she became a Christian that week.


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