When I set aside time to spend with God, I make a habit of trying to spend some of that time listening. This can take many forms. Sometimes it’ll be about what I’m reading, or what has been happening in life, but often I will have a time of silence where I wait on God and see if the Holy Spirit has something to say.
When I was the dean at Cornerstone Canowindra I would get phone calls from people who were interested in coming to spend a year studying and working with us. Sometimes, as the person told you their story, you would get a clear feeling that them coming wasn’t going to be a good thing for them or for the community. But, if I could, I would avoid saying “No” right there and then. My preferred option was to explain to them what my concerns were, and then suggest to them that I have a few days to think and pray about it, before getting back to them with my final recommendation. After all, it’s in your own interest to give God the opportunity to let you know if you’re about to make a mistake.
The Listening Book has this thinking at its heart. It’s really nothing more than a tool to help you slow down and give God some space to speak. You don’t need it – there are plenty of ways to do that – but it’s an important idea to me, and I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to have a book about it. I know that when I talk about ‘hearing God speak’ there are all kinds of things (and warning bells) that can go through people’s minds, but I am convinced that we don’t really expect God to speak to us, so we don’t even give Him a chance, and so it’s no wonder that we never hear anything.