Prayer, I have learned, is a two-way conversation. I have tried many methods of prayer over the years, and PART has been my favorite. PART stands for Praise, Admission of sin, Requests, Thanksgiving. The author also suggested a time of listening, which I never quite understood how to do that. In any conversation, listening is vital to communication. We all want to be heard and understood, and we also need to listen to and understand, so our responses are correct.
There are a couple of ways we can hear God speak to us. The primary method is through His Word, the Bible. Even with the most straightforward translation in the simplest English, I tend to miss a lot of what God is saying. Sad, but true. In any conversation, when someone is talking, our minds can wander, and soon we have missed their point. To save face, we may give a vague response. I did that with my Bible reading or devotional. You may be doing that now! In the end, if I journaled, my inadequate response might go a little deeper than if I didn’t journal, but I never got to the central theme of what God was saying.
I have discovered a new way of listening to God through His Word, the Bible. It forces me to stay in the present and not have wandering thoughts. I want to share it with you. I have taken this excerpt from the book Prayer: Forty Days of Practice by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson. ( copyright 2019, Waterbrook) It has many good insights in it, but this is the one I have appreciated the most. This exercise helps me to stay in the present. It’s called Lectio Divina.
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit.
- Choose a short passage of Scripture, such as Psalm 86:1-13. Ask God to guide you. I couldn’t get the book of James out of my mind, so I started there in chapter 1.
- Ask the Spirit to meet and guide you. You could use this time for praise and confession too.
- Read the passage once to get familiar with it.
- Reread the passage more slowly. Listen for a word or phrase that stands out to you, catches your attention, and write that word or phrase down. It can help to read the passage softly out loud. You will often hear it differently by doing so.
- Be quiet and listen. Then slowly repeat the word or phrase. Does it call to mind anything about your life or circumstances? If so, write that down too.
- Reread the whole passage and pay attention to the way your word or phrase ties into it. You may discover another word or phrase that stands out to you. Please write it down.
- Read what you’ve written down. What life experiences come to mind? What thoughts or pictures or images come to mind? What person or specific situation? Remember, you are not alone: God is with you.
- Read the whole passage through a fourth time. Again let your word or phrase be the starting point of your conversation with God.
- Tell God what you have noticed. Ask about what you don’t understand. Ask what it is you are to do as a result.
This can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Don’t rush it; enjoy your time with God.