Book Review Friday: The Art of Listening Prayer


Ever had a huge decision to make and just wished that some kind of sign would appear in the sky–perhaps a lightening bolt or a burning bush? Our desire is to hear from God. We want not only to be assured of His Calling, but we also want to be certain that we are in sync with Him in our thoughts and actions, allowing Him to guide some of the smallest decision in our lives. This book is an amazing guide to accomplishing just that. The key to his book, however, is in the title: listening. It is more about who God is, than what we want.


Today’s book came out in 2005. It is written by Seth Barnes who is the founder of Adventures in Missions, a organization that leads mission trips over the world. With what I have read about his ministry and what he has had to say about it on his blog, I can see that Barnes truly reflects the principles in this book.


Barnes’ book is set up as a month-long devotional, but I went through it in just under two weeks. He begins the book by encouraging the reader to have some essential tools: your bible, a journal, different colored pens and a silent room with at least 45 minutes of uninterrupted time (I understand, that for a parent, this can be extremely challenging but the point is time alone).


He also encourages the reader to have an accountability partner or counselor, someone to run questions by, in other words, if we’re getting a really wacky “answer” it’s best to run it by a fellow Christian before making any life-altering decisions. Barnes ends each chapter with a few simple questions–questions to ask the Lord in your quiet time, to really examine your heart and motivations. Most importantly, he encourages us to begin with Scripture.


The book examines potential barriers of time alone with God, like dealing with distractions, overcoming obstacles like worry, the desire for riches, pleasures, but also highlights the benefits of truly being in tune with His voice–helping others to hear God, learning to pray continuously, allowing the Holy Spirit to work.


As mentioned above, an essential tool is the journal, when we get our prayers out on paper, we can refer back to them. We can tangibly see God’s answers–even His times of silence. I’ve seen myself that when God was particularly silent, it meant that I didn’t need the answer right there and then, or perhaps I wasn’t prepared to hear His answer in that moment. The concepts contained in Barnes’ writing are basic, but it is wonderful to have a guide to really focus you on a potentially rich, fulfilling and challenging prayer life.


Seth Barnes was kind enough to answer a few questions for me regarding his writing and work and I wanted to share that with you readers:


EDB: Your book gives quite a few powerful examples, in both your life and others of the effect of earnest, hear-felt seeking after the One who hears all our utterances, would you mind sharing a more recent, specific instance of a major decision you had to make and after spending time in prayer and meditation you heard audibly from God. Have you been able to see some long-term effects of that major decision?


SB: I haven’t ever heard audibly from God. I’ve heard mostly his voice in a way that seems similar to my own thoughts. Here’s a blog about it that contains an example: http://www.sethbarnes.com/?filename=god-often-sounds-just-like-me-thinking

Here are my more recent writings about listening prayer: http://www.sethbarnes.com/?category=Listening%20Prayer


EDB: How did this book come about? Where there any outside resources (incl. people) that helped you particularly in writing this book?


SB: I had a lot of help. Zihna Gordon and Mark Almand were the most helpful in the writing process. And Clint Bokelman has done more than anyone else to encourage me to pursue my heart to lead from a place of listening to God.


EDB: Can you tell me a little bit about your organization, Adventures in Missions?


SB: http://www.adventures.org/about/about.asp


EDB: How many countries have you been to since it’s founding and are there any you would you prefer to live in aside from the US? If so, why?


SB: AIM is in 39 countries. I’ve been to most of them. I’m happy here in Georgia, but I love being wherever God is moving.


EDB: Do you have any more books in the works?


SB: Yes. I have a book called “Journeys” mostly written. It’s in its fourth draft now.

You can buy this book now: http://www.missionsresources.com/product/381.htm

I’ve got manuscripts for 8 other books that I’ve been working on for a while now. At some point I hope to be satisfied enough to publish them.


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