Advent is a four week period of time leading up to Christmas. It is a season of reflection on ancient promises and preparation for the continual coming of Christ’s spirit into the world. During Advent we prepare our hearts for God’s coming through faithful work and prayer. Claire Brown writes, “we keep our hand to the plow while we search the skies for signs of God’s presence.”
Listening & Watching Prayer
Being Heard and Listening to God » Listening in prayer is the practice of allowing our whole selves to be heard from God, and in return allowing our hearts to be opened to the whole being of God.
In short this looks like us opening ourselves up to a particular issue or aspect in our world, city, or church body and listening to God’s heart about it.
A Guide for Listening Prayer:
- Find yourself a comfortable space where you can be alone and present to God without distraction or interruption (as much as possible).
- Begin to open your heart up to God. Imagine him dwelling within you and allow your mind to center on his immanent presence and his desire to commune with you.
- As you make space in you for him, bring the issue or question of your heart to him and allow yourself to listen with your spirit and heart not for words, but for the sense and movement of God’s heart about it.
- As you begin to sense how God feels for the focus of your prayer allow the Spirit to flow through you and out toward whatever it is you’re bringing before him. Allow yourself to see it as a process of God hearing, responding and pouring out over you and through you.
Prayer centered around letting God lead the conversation visually and speaking to and around what we see as we commune with him.
It’s a prophetic kind of prayer that focuses through a visual (or emotive) lens but it’s expressed more as communion than in the action of prophecy.
Watching prayer as a prayer dance » In ballroom dancing the couple moves as one, but it’s the role of the man to lead and move the woman through light tension. It’s not about him being first or more important, both individuals learn the entire dance perfectly. It’s about the need for mutual submission and in order to move as one someone must take the responsibility of leading.
This is how Strahan Coleman defines watching prayer with God. It is participatory and co-labouring, it’s not mechanical.
In order to move as one we’re inviting the hands of the Spirit to lead us in the dance of intercession and communion through the visual medium of the imagination.
A Guide for Watching Prayer
(we will skip the first few steps that overlap with listening prayer above)
- Find yourself a comfortable space where you can be alone and present to God without distraction or interruption.
- Begin to open your heart up to God. Imagine him dwelling within you and allow your mind to centre on his immanent presence and his desire to commune with you.
- Ask God to show you his heart and mind and to lead you in prayer.
- As you begin to have faint pictures, senses or imaginations, allow elements of those pictures or movements to inform your prayer. Don’t worry about starting perfectly, often it’s not until after you begin praying that the picture becomes more clear or our hearts are more confidently moved in the direction of a thing.
- As you pray through the images you see, consider what they mean to you, who they remind you of, how they present God to you. As you feel led, pray through the images allowing God to change them, inform them and transform you as they go.
- When the natural movement stops, allow yourself to stop with it. This prayer is Holy Spirit led, it’s not your role to keep it moving.
- Once you feel the sense of prayer leave you, be still and wait for God to lead you onward or give you peace to close.