Contemplative Prayer: Deep Listening
Mar 26, 2017
Most of the prayer practices we have been trying this year are solitary, seeking the heart of God through the scriptures or through quiet time with God. But God also speaks to us through the voices of those around us. This week we will be practicing deep listening in the context of prayer.
Deep listening requires us to focus our full attention on another person, refraining from distracting ourselves through reactions or formulating a response. It is a mode of listening that most of us do not experience, either as listeners or speakers. Follow the guidelines to help build a new muscle in your prayer body.
Find a person who is willing to engage in a session of deep listening with you, to share and receive at a deep level. This may be someone in your family or your church family. Make sure you both understand the process. You will take turns sharing a memory that has spiritual meaning for you. Know that there may be gaps and awkward silences. That is OK.
Sit in a comfortable position. Begin with a prayer to ask for help in sharing and listening, in deepening the memory. Both partners should recall a time when they experienced God’s presence or a feeling of abiding love. Sit for about ten minutes with that memory, reflecting on it in your mind and heart.
One person should share the memory. The other person should listen silently, refraining from responding audibly or physically. Instead, as you listen, pray for the memory to be deepened. At the end, say thank you, then switch roles.
When you both have shared and listened, spend a few minutes talking about the experience. Offer a short prayer of thanksgiving for your time together and the shared memories.