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Article from Heal My Life Christian Inner Healing Prayer Therapy Seminar © George Hartwell M.Sc. 2002

Listening Prayer and the listen to God lifestyle

Heal My Life Seminars © George Hartwell M.Sc. 2002

The first step in prayer, and in life, is to listen to God.  Just as a doctor looks for the right diagnosis, we need to listen to the person who is asking for counselling, and, to God, who from time to time communicates with us through deeper feelings, pictures in imagination and dream and through words connected with experience.

God promises a new heart and a new spirit - a transformed life.  The way God does this is by giving us the tools as a gift and then supporting us if we use those tools.  Two steps - one instant miraculous gift of the tools to gain a transformed life and the freedom to use these with God's help.

The Biblical example of this is the taking of the promised land by Joshua.  The army fought and often God fought with them.  No territory was gained without a fight but they did not fight alone.

Agnes Sanford is one of the names associated with the rediscovery of prayer, healing prayer and inner healing prayer within the mainline denominations in the 20th century.  I consider myself in the Third Generation of the inner healing movement. The first generation pioneered, used faith imagination and discovered that even emotional issues rooted in childhood abuse yielded to prayer - thus "inner healing."

In the third generation I am reintroducing the God-given gift of our imagination in prayer.  I often encourage the person wanting inner healing (my client) to listen to God's truth or picture asking Jesus a key question.  One of the tools I use is "Listening Prayer Therapy."  Leanne Payne insisted that listening prayer brought about emotional and inner healing. (However, she did not outline a systematic method of doing Listening Prayer Therapy.)

The center focus is times when we listen to God.  Do you know how hard it is to have a good relationship without listening? The true lover is a good listener.

As you learn and apply the tools of Listening Prayer Therapy, you will learn to listen to God. This practice develops your relationship with God.  You gain emotional healing and a closer relationship with God.

Your goal should be to develop an ongoing life style of listening to God.  To practice listening prayer is to really love God.

If you adopt a lifestyle of listening to God and teach others to adopt this life style, then something great has happened. The Kingdom of God is at hand - in your life and the lives of others. In a kingdom you listen to and obey your king. This is what we mean when we pray: "Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done" How can Jesus be Lord if don't learn to listen to him?

If you adopt a lifestyle of listening to God you will transform your life and the world around you. Your life in Christ will be more fruitful and more joyful. You will be happier with yourself.

My vision is the transformation of Christianity. I see the day when Christians make listening to God the focus and foundation of their life.

This won't happen because it is a good idea. It won't happen because we tell others it is a good idea. Please don't preach and teach at people about listening to God! Don't tell them; show them. Don't push them; lead them. "Make disciples," Jesus said.

Telling people what to do in the Christian life is often counterproductive. People don't  "get with the program" when we preach at them, especially if they are not taught how to implement it. Pressuring people, through preaching, turns people off!

Nor does it work for you to "preach" at yourself. People don't really transform their lives by condemning themselves and promising to themselves that they will be different. Out "trying to be good" is doomed to failure. "The good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice." Romans 7:19.

Paul is crystal clear, in Romans 7, as to why he practices what he hates. He says: "I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells. Jesus is crystal clear about the same point when is says: "Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is God." Matthew 19:17. This reality dooms self-change projects to failure.

"In the story of Curious George, the Man with the Yellow Hat says:  "You stay here," said the man with the yellow hat, "but don't get into trouble." George tried to be good but he was curious - he was Curious George. Curious George does a good job of representing the difficulty that children have being good and staying out of trouble. It is hard to be good - even for adults!   "George tried to be good but he was curious."

It is good to recognize that we can't transform ourselves into good persons. We can't save ourselves. We can't change our heart. Can a leopard change his spots?

We need a Savior. We need a new heart. We need a new spirit - a change of identity.

If we into life with a new heart, a new spirit, a new identity, perhaps then we could be good. Here is hope! Here is a different way to be good. But how? How do we get a new identity, a new heart, and a new spirit?

The Bible says, "Christ in us is our hope of glory." Paul boldly states that the old has passed away that all things are made new. The promise is there. The potential is there. We just need the tools for realizing that promise.

I have seen the tools of Listening Prayer Therapy bring about this new identity. This is not self-change. This is not good counsel. This is not good therapy. This is the transforming power of an encounter with God.

Listening Prayer Therapy is not my ministry. (I have seen how fruitful my ministry is!) This is Jesus at work transforming hearts and healing lives.

The skill I bring to Listening Prayer Therapy is of letting Jesus do the work. I don't give the answers. He does. It isn't my word that comes with effective life changing power. It is His word. His very word spoken to me and spoken to you.

I need humility as the therapist/facilitator. If I try to do the work, if I try to give the counsel, if I try to be the source of comfort it is not the same. It is not as fruitful. It is not as refreshingly creative. My word does not heal lives; God's Word does!

If you would learn from me to use these tools, you, too, need to learn humility. You need to learn that you are not God, that your word does not heal lives. You need to step back and let go of the need to be Savior, Healer or Counsellor.

Yes! The Holy Spirit is our Counsellor. Not you or me. Jesus is our Savior. Not you or me. The faith and encouragement of God the Father surpasses the faith and encouragement that you or I could bring.

For counsellors this requires giving up of control. It feels like a loss of prestige and glory. It feels risky as you introduce your client to a listening prayer time and wait to see what happens.

For preaching pastors listening prayer times can be integrated into the worship service. This time allows the member to assimilate and apply what has been said in the sermon. The listener moves from understanding about God to an encounter with God. Jesus is released to touch everyone present at the worship service.

But it is also feels risky for the pastor. Can he give up control? Can he let God move in people's lives? Is his faith and trust strong in God's ability to move in each one's life? Can he risk trying something new?

But taste the fruit of  the ministry of Jesus there will be no turning back.

George Hartwell Toronto, Ontario, Canada (416) 234-1850 is a professional using Listening Prayer Therapy in his Christian prayer counseling practice.

United States of America USA Phone: 1 877 854-3990

Publish on web sites with the above links and phone numbers please. No commercial publication.

The Prayer Series - see also

1. Spiritual Warfare
2. Job Interview Prayer
3. Safe Prayers of Protection
4.  Prayer is a Life-style
5. Faith of the Heart
6. How to pray for difficult people
7. How to pray in a personal crisis
8. How to pray for physical Healing
9. How to break Curses