I believe that there are several habits we as Christians can adopt in our lives to become the type of believer we truly aspire to be. While Hebrews 11 has compiled a list of heroes of the faith for us, there have been many people who have lived since that time whom we can learn from as well. If I were to ask you to think of a person, past or present, who exemplified a life of faith as a believer, you could probably think of a name quickly. Whether they were written about in the Bible, history, or have just touched your life in some way, they have habits in their life that you and I can adopt into our own lives to become that type of Christian.
Anyone you can think of that has a great relationship with God, has the habit of prayer in their life. Just like any other relationship, it is only successful when you communicate. Communication involves sending and receiving messages. Many Christians are great at sending them to God, but have a hard time receiving them. Either they don’t spend time listening during prayer or they don’t take time to read His Word. God is speaking to each one of us, we just have to choose to listen.
Listening to God speak is as much an act of faith as anything. If we hear it enough times, we will learn to recognize when it is God speaking and when it is our mind. Jesus said in John 10:27, “My sheep recognize my voice” (MSG). The only way to recognize someone’s voice is to hear it several times. God expects us to daily hear what He’s trying to say to us as individuals and then to apply it to our lives. He’s giving the answers to what we are asking in prayer. If we don’t hear those answers, we aren’t listening.
One way you can know if it’s God speaking to you is that what He says will never go against what the Bible says. He is true to His Word. He doesn’t make exceptions. It’s very important to know the Bible if you’re learning to listen to God’s voice. That is the measuring stick to know if you are hearing Him. I peter 1:25 tells us that the word of the Lord will last forever. It will not be replaced. It will not be changed.
If you truly want to grow in your relationship with God, you’re going to have to spend quality time in prayer each day. Colossians 4:2 says, “Be earnest and unwearied and steadfast in your prayer [life], being [both] alert and intent in [your praying] with thanksgiving” (AMP). Great Christians know that the health of their relationship with God lies in their prayer life. If you want to be a better Christian, start spending more time on your knees.
One of the things I talk to sales reps about is the 80/20 rule. I try to teach them to let the customer talk 80% of the time and they should only be talking 20% of the time. If they’re talking 80% and the customer 20%, they won’t have enough information to make a good recommendation. The interaction should be about the customer not them. I think the same rule should apply to prayer.
What if in our prayer time we let God speak 80% of the time and we only spoke 20%? How would our lives change? How would our faith change? We have a greater need to hear what God says then He has of what we have to say. He knows what we are going to say before we even speak. He knows the intent of our hearts. He already knows us inside and out. It’s us who have a need to know Him.
I’m not writing this as someone who has accomplished this consistently with God. I’m writing this as someone who has a greater need to know God more. I use words to fill up my time with God more than listening. When I do listen, He speaks. He’s always speaking to us, but we rarely listen to what He’s saying because we’re too busy talking during the time we give Him each day.
I love how the Message writes the conversation between Jesus and His disciples concerning prayer in Matthew 6. Jesus said in verse 6, “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.” The reason for prayer is to shift the focus from you to God.
Imagine how your life would be different if you shifted the focus from your problems, schedule, bills, hurts, hopes and dreams to God. Mark Batterson tweeted yesterday, “Talking to God about your problems is fine and good, but FAITH is talking to your problems about God.” We fill up our time with God talking about our problems instead of getting to know Him. We tell Him our needs, but never ask what His needs are. We ask for His help, but rarely offer our help.
Most of us would never want to be in a relationship as one sided as that. So why do we think that God wants to? I believe He wants to engage in conversation with each one of us. He wants us to get to know Him on a deeper level than we ever imagined possible. First of all, it takes finding that quiet, secluded place every day. The next step Jesus said was to just be there simply and honestly. He didn’t say to fill the silence with words. Just be there in that moment with God and listen. Open yourself up to what He has to say to you. That’s when you’ll begin to sense His grace and know Him more.