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Prayer is conversing with God.
We speak to us, and God speaks to us.
Our prayer life will be much more ineffective, if we are unable to hear something back from God.
Therefore, it is important that we learn not just to speak to God but to hear from Him.
God says: ‘/Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know/’ (Jeremiah 33:3).
He is a God who listens and answers our prayers.
We are a people who speak but who often don’t listen for an answer.
Many of us love to talk more than we love to listen.
We take the same habits into our prayer life.
When we are praying alone or in the company of others, isn’t it so that mostly we spend time speaking rather than listening?
Yet unless we learn to listen, then our prayer is only a one-way thing which will leave us frustrated and sometimes confused.
Mother Teresa once said:  "/I always begin my prayer in silence.
It is in silence that God speaks.
We need to listen because it’s not what we say but what he says to and through us that matters/."
King Solomon said:  "/Do not be quick with your mouth.
Do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few/."
(Ecclesiastes 5:2)
Our words need to be few because of the awesomeness of the one in whose presence we stand.
They also need to be few so that we might hear what God in turn has to say to us.
An ancient American Indian proverb says:  "/Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf/."
If we think we are not receiving answers to our prayers it might be because we have not learned to listen.
For each person who exclaims, ‘Speak (Lord), for your servant hears,’ there are probably ten others who are practicing, ‘Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking.’
Let’s therefore look at a few things which may help us hear God.
*1.)   **Believe*
We must firstly believe that God speaks.
In the Bible there is the record of God speaking to Adam (Genesis 2).
Again we find God speaking to Noah giving him very specific instruc­tions (Genesis 6).
God speaks to Abram (Genesis 12) and Moses (Exodus 3).
Later on there is the record of God speaking to Samuel (1 Samuel 3:2-10).
He speaks to Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8-9) and to Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:4-5, 7-8).
This of course, is the way we got our Bible; God speaking to and through people.
Jesus said: "/By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear/."
(John 5:30)
In other words, He was listening to the Father.
Elsewhere Jesus said:  "/My sheep listen to my voice/."
(John 10:16)
In Acts 8 God speaks to Phillip.
In Acts 9, He speaks to Ananias.
In Acts 10, He speaks to Peter and Cornelius.
In Acts 16, He speaks to Paul.
So the record rolls on.
He speaks by His Holy Spirit.
Jesus said:  ...          "/W//hen He, the Spirit of truth, comes He will guide you into all truth.
He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.
He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you/." (John 16:13-14)
If we are to hear God speak then we need to believe that not only did He speak in Bible times long ago, but we also need to believe that God didn’t suddenly go silent when the Bible was completed.
We need to believe that according to the promise given through Jesus by the Holy Spirit,
God still actually speaks and makes things known to us today.
There­fore, we need to expect to hear something from Him.
*Parenthesis: Characteristics For Hearing The Spirit's Prompting (from Dr. Bill Jones):*
* *
¨     Confirms Scripture -- never contradicts (Luke 4:1-13).
¨     Specific, not general.
¨     Leads, (God gets you to do something), does not drive, (Satan pushes you to overdo something.
¨     Simple, not complicated.
¨     Faith, not fear -- Romans 1:17.
¨     Internal (changes in character), not external (changes in circumstances).
¨     Truthful, not deceitful (what is false or a lie).
¨     Clear, not confusing.
¨     Restores relationships, does not destroy relationships.
¨     My faults, others' needs, not others' faults, my needs.
*Cautions for heeding Holy Spirit's Prompting, be careful when …*
* *
¨     You hear something you desperately want to hear.
¨     There is a contradiction to what you understand the Word of God says.
¨     You are down, discouraged, or sick.
¨     You are being pushed into an urgent, "snap" decision.
¨     You receive contradictory opinions from Christians you respect.
¨     You are tempted to make a decision in a time of weakness that you would not make in a time of strength.
¨     God does not seem to be making a provision.
¨     It is contrary to common sense.
¨     Everything around you is caving in.
¨     There is confusion in relationships.
¨     There is a lack of total inner peace (Col.
* *Expect To Hear*
It’s no use believing something but expecting nothing.
*George Mueller* who lived in England last century was certainly a man who knew how to pray and who believed that God would speak.
Mueller also expected something to happen when he prayed.
He said that God had not only led him to look after 500 orphans in various homes, but that God had also provided the millions and millions of pounds that were necessary to meet the needs for that ministry.
He said it all happened in response to believing, expectant prayer.
On one occasion when Mueller was travelling to Canada for a speaking engagement, dense fog had settled upon the ocean and the vessel in which he was travelling floated motionless on a silent sea.
So Mr. Mueller knocked anxiously on the Captain’s door and said, ‘I must be in Toronto by Sunday.’
But the Captain replied, ‘In no way can this vessel move without assuming great danger of colliding with another.’
‘I understand,’ said Mr. Mueller.
‘But in 40 years of Chris­tian service I have not failed to keep an appointment.
I must be in Toronto by Sunday.’
Then he asked the Captain to join him in special prayer so that the fog would lift.
Embarrassed the Captain agreed.
They knelt and Mueller calmly asked God to lift that hindering fog.
Somewhat intimidated the Captain then started to pray in order to please his anxious passenger.
But no sooner had he begun when Mueller stopped him.
He gently touched the Captain’s shoulder saying, ‘You need not pray because you do not believe.’
As the Captain and Mueller walked out onto the deck a look of sheer astonishment spread over the Captain’s face.
The fog had completely lifted.
George Mueller silently stood by with a look which said, ‘Just as I expected it would be.’
Believe that God speaks.
Expect to hear and see his response.
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