Bible Study · Christian resources · Life Application (Bible To Life) · Mysticism/Occult · Prayer

Listening Prayers & Their Dangers

Do we really need to be silent to hear God? Do we need to calm ourselves from chaos to hear the Lord? How can we hear the Lord?

Those who encourage listening prayers teach that we speak in prayer and then God speaks back, therefore, we must be ready to hear what God says to us. On the surface, listening prayers seem legit. As Christians, we should be ready to hear what the Lord has to say. However, there are several problems with listening prayers.

What will get covered:

  • Origins of Listening Prayer
  • 3 Problems of Listening Prayer
    • How can we tell the difference?
    • If we are wrong, we are putting words in God’s mouth
    • Our minds and hearts are deceived
  • Answering 5 counters often used to say Listening Prayer is ok
    • Heart of flesh
    • Sheep hear the Shepherd
    • The Holy Spirit indwells in us & we should listen
    • Putting God in a Box
    • We Need to Hear God’s Whisper
  • Where Do We Hear the Lord Best?
    • Breakdown of how scripture truly is sufficient

Origins of Listening Prayer

Listening prayer is part of the Eastern religion teaching of Contemplative Prayer (or CP, for short.) Basically, CP encourages people to seek God or other spiritual beings by quieting, silencing, or emptying the mind, to go beyond thought, in order to experience psychic and other spiritual enlightenment. As you might be able to tell – this is not a Christian teaching. Check out: Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality | What You Need To Know About That “Still, Small Voice”

Problem 1 – How Can We Tell The Difference?

Listening prayers are focused much on experiences and emotions. If we have an experience, and we feel like this “pure” energy has fallen upon us, our likely response is, “This is God because I feel good. I feel like someone is interacting with me, and I like it.”

Or, we could be praying and then we have a thought – was this the Lord answering us? Or we could be sitting outside and suddenly the clouds form a particular picture, is the Lord trying to tell us something? Maybe we had a dream that seemed symbolic and we “just know” that God is “trying” to tell us something.

Think About It: Does God ever struggle when He wants His creation to know something of Him?

How can we prove what we believe to be the Lord is actually the Lord?

  • Consider: When the Lord spoke to people in the Bible, He was never questioned, aside from young Samuel. Everyone KNEW God was speaking to them. There wasn’t any questioning.

Listening prayers encourage a lot of confusion and questions. Was this God? Was this symbol I saw from God?

When we experience uncertainty, we can rest assured we are not experiencing the Lord. Uncertainty can make us uneasy and we can become overly symbolic and emotional just so we can experience some kind of spiritual event (read as spiritual high).When God truly interacts with His creation, there isn’t questioning.

Addiction to spiritual encounters connects back to our pride. We want to feel good about ourselves. We want to feel special and like God is giving us special knowledge (which actually is Gnosticism). Unfortunately, this pride leads to teachings that are itching to our ears, often done by false prophets, those who claim God speaks directly to them.

2 Timothy 4:03-04 – For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. Note: We will cover how this exact issue hurt Israel in the Old Testament from people claiming they heard from God.

Our addiction to these feelings and experiences cause us to then base our salvation, our relationship with Christ, purely on how “connected” we feel to the Lord or how often we feel the Lord speaks to us.

  • Consider: Are we really able to tell the difference between:
    • a thought we have
    • a demon deceiving us as an angel of light
    • a moment in time that isn’t meant to be symbolic
    • a dream that is not a vision or prophecy
    • an emotion, experience and not God

Seeking the Lord through listening prayer is extremely similar to those who try to connect with spirits through divination or other practices.

Problem 2 – If We are Wrong, We are Putting Words in God’s Mouth & Death is Knocking

Ezekiel 13:06 – They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word.

Jeremiah 5:30-31 – An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?Note: Israel’s 70 year captivity was related to false prophecies, divinations, that people claimed was from the Lord, but they were of the doctrine of demons.

When we say – God told me, showed me, or I “feel” God is saying… we are walking a slippery road. The moment we get anything wrong about what we think God told us, we have made ourselves a false prophet – which in the Old Testament the penalty was death. Why was the consequence so deadly? We need to look at what happened to Israel in the Bible. They were led away by false prophecy, false dreams, and false visions. They were led away because people were telling them, “God told me this.” They were led away by the teachings of demons. They wanted to worship false gods made in their image, who told them pleasant things.

Demons want you to rely on your signs, dreams, emotions, and experiences. This is the core of a demonic doctrine. This is how vulnerable people get taken advantage of by demons. We trust our “feelings” to explain what is a godly experience – and this is not Biblical.

Putting words in God’s mouth has the same authority as scripture – doesn’t matter if we try to lessen the impact by adding, “I feel God is saying…” If God speaks, then His words can’t have varying degrees of authority. We are either hearing from God or we aren’t.

Problem 3 – Our Hearts & Minds are Deceived

Jeremiah 14:14 – And the LORD said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.

Jeremiah 17:09-10 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”

Our minds can be deceived. Our hearts can be deceived. Before Christ, we were completely deceived. Sin condemns us for a reason. We have a flawed judgment. And using our emotional experiences to determine what is of God and what is not -isn’t Biblical. We are sinners, after all. Which is why we need Christ to live a flawless, perfect life, and die on the cross as the atonement sacrifice. Taking the wrath of God, our just punishment, in the place of the sinner. He resurrected conquering sin and death. We are accounted righteous NOT because we are sinless but because Jesus is sinless. His righteousness is imputed to those who put their faith in Him through the grace shown to us on the cross.

Please keep in mind that believers of Jesus will continue to struggle with sin until they either die or are transformed into our resurrected bodies. Through Christ, we are not in bondage to sin, but in bondage to Christ. We do not look at sin the same, we are convicted of sin, and we repent of sin, but we are not sinless in this life. (Romans 8:10-11)

  • Consider: 1 John 1:08 – If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
  • Consider: Proverbs 20:09 – Who can say, “I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin”?
  • Consider: Romans 3:10-12 – as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
  • Consider: Galatians 5:17 – For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.

Answering Arguments of Why Some Believe Listening Prayers are OK

COUNTERWhat About A Heart of Flesh?

We do not live pure lives, even as followers of Christ. Some might argue in Christ we are given a heart of flesh, therefore, our hearts won’t be deceived, but again see 1 John 1:08, he was speaking to believers, we will never be pure in this life. A heart of stone refers to those who reject Jesus because they love sin, this is our nature as humans. We need Jesus to give us a heart of flesh so that our eyes are opened to the truth of the Gospel, and we are convicted of our sin. We once were dead but now alive in Christ – stone to flesh. (See: Ezekiel 11:19 | Romans 1, 6:11, 10:17 | Hebrews 12:02)

Through the Holy Spirit, we can be convicted of our sins and seek repentance. Growth in the Spirit does not stop our flesh from being clouded by our sins, that’s why we need Him. We were made for our Creator. We need our Creator to instruct us through His words. But not words that seem symbolic and iffy on where its coming from.

Which is exactly where the Bible comes in.

Consider: Hebrews 1:01-02 – Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

God reveals a mystery, which is the Gospel through Christ. Jesus is how God speaks. You’ll notice that the Old Testament is all about the coming Messiah, which connects back to the Covenant of Redemption – see: Covenant of Redemption | Understanding The Trinity.

Consider: John 1:01-03 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

COUNTERListening prayers are ok because the sheep hear the Shepherd’s voice.

No, sheep are relying more on their emotions and experiences to determine if it’s the Shepherd than the sheep actually relying on the Shepherd, which isn’t a teaching of Christ. So sheep rely on themselves to determine if something is of Jesus or not. Sheep are dumb, and let’s be honest, we are like dumb sheep.

We can’t trust ourselves because we will let emotions easily dictate us – this is part of our fallen nature and we deal with it on a daily basis. (Thus, we need the conviction of the Holy Spirit.)

We need to trust God, and therefore, we need to trust HIS word. (John 10:27Notice, Jesus was speaking to the Jews because the Jews did not believe His words, therefore, they were not His sheep.)

How can sheep know the Shepherd’s voice if they seek Him everywhere else, but NOT where He told them to seek Him?

COUNTER – The Holy Spirit Speaks to Us & We Need To Listen to Him

It’s absolutely true we need to listen to the Lord. It is also true God speaks to us through His holy word, scripture. What might be helpful is understanding the role of the Holy Spirit. As discussed, scripture is about Jesus Christ and what Christ has done for us (the Gospel message.) It’s crucial we understand the Gospel and we listen to Jesus.

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, has the role of helping us understand the words of Christ. Notice how this connects back to scripture – not confusing symbols or iffy thoughts of did I hear God.

  • All who put their faith in Jesus Christ will be forgiven and will receive the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. (Galatians 2:163:14
  • The Holy Spirit does not depart from those of faith in Jesus Christ.The Holy Spirit directs us and controls us. (1 Corinthians 3:16, Romans 8:09, John 14:16)
  • We walk in the way of the Spirit. (Romans 7:06)
  • We are transformed by the renewing of the mind, this happens through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 12:02, Ephesians 4:22-24
  • How does He renew our minds? The Holy Spirit always points to scripture because He points out sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. He points back to Christ and the teachings of Christ. (John 16:0814:26)
  • We love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the only way to know how to properly love God is to follow His commands, which are given to us in scripture. Loving the Lord with all of our mind, as the mind is renewed by the Spirit and transformed through His truth found in scripture. This affects us spiritually, and affects the fruit produced in our life. God’s word explains to us where righteousness is found (in Jesus) and what righteousness looks like. These answers do not come outside of scripture, but from scripture.(Mark 12:30, Romans 3:22, Philippians 1:09-11
  • We know what the will of God is through understanding scripture. (2 Timothy 3:16-17
  • Wisdom of the Lord is received through fearing Him and studying His word to know Him.

As you’ll notice, everything ties back to God’s word. Also, please note the importance of using our minds, not silencing them. We are commanded to use our minds and have our mind transformed.

COUNTER – Only Seeking God Through Scripture Is Putting Him in a Box

COUNTER – We Need to Hear God’s Whisper

The Best Way to Hear God?

The best way to hear the Lord is to listen to His living and breathing word through daily reading of the Bible. Scripture is not any other book. We cannot exhaust our knowledge, growth, and spiritual transformation when it comes to God’s word.

The moment we think we need more than scripture we have put God in a box because we are saying that His living and breathing word is limited.

Jesus increases our faith through scripture and He is the Author of our faith. We learn and hear His living word only through scripture. We can only receive the Holy Spirit through recognizing we are a sinner, putting our hope and faith in Christ.

The Word of God (based on 2 Timothy 3:16-17 & Hebrews 4:12):

  • Is Breathed out by God
  • Is Living 
  • Is Active 
  • Is Profitable for teaching
  • Is Profitable for reproof
  • Corrects
  • Trains in righteousness
  • Completes a person of God
  • Equips a person of God for every good work
  • Is Sharper than a two edged sword
  • Divides the soul and spirit 
  • Divides the joints and marrow
  • Discerns thoughts and intentions of the heart

Completes a person of God and equips a person of God for every good work. Friends, it looks like we do not have to listen in prayer to be completed and equipped for whatever we might face in life. God’s living word is truly sufficient for us and we do not have to be confused seeking Him outside of His instructions.

“If private revelations agree with Scriptures, they are needless; and if they disagree, they are false.” – John Owen

Many times people try to seek the Lord outside of scripture because they are trying to figure out His will for their life. – Please check out: How Do I Know God’s Will For My Life?

*unless noted, all scripture is from the ESV

Recommended Resources on Contemplative Prayer and similar topics:

What I’ve Covered:

Marcia Montenegro:

Got Questions:

Melissa Dougherty:

Doreen Virtue:

Justin Peters:


The Gospel Message– The Gospel message is good news, which means there’s bad news. We all are sinners and condemned. We all deserve the just punishment of God’s wrath. Christianity is unlike any other religion because we cannot earn our way into Heaven. God saw the weakness of man and his utter depravity. Yet, He showed us grace. Jesus, God, One Person of the Trinity, became God in the flesh, the God-Man. He was always perfect and sinless. And His humanity was perfected on the cross, living the full sinless life. He became our atonement sacrifice. Dying in our place, taking on the wrath of God upon Himself. He died on the cross, and He was resurrected because death could not hold Him. Jesus is the answer. We, as guilty sinners, need His blood to pay off our debt of sin. For all who put their faith in Him – meaning eyes are opened to the Gospel, we see ourselves as a sinner, we see the need for Christ, we desire our Savior, and we see the ugliness of our sin. Putting our faith in Jesus, we seek HIs forgiveness and repent from our sins, we turn away from our old way of life. We, through the work of the Holy Spirit, continue to become convicted of sin daily. Our eyes will never be the same again. We see things in a different light, and the truth of Christ affects how we live and serve Him. Christ tells us to count the cost. Salvation is a serious topic, it is not to be taken lightly. For a breakdown of this powerful message, understanding how Christ could be God and Man, why God required sacrifices, and more -please see: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)

If you think you know the Gospel, check out these questions and see how prepared you are for the day someone might ask you why you believe: The Gospel Challenge (30 Question Quiz) – Are You Ready To Defend Your Faith?

Scripture To Meditate On (ESV) John 1:03 – All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Community PrayerSeptember ‘22

Christian Topics/Series Covered
Personal Blog: Peeking Beneath
Second Blog: UnAshamed Christian Housewife
Godly Men & Women I Recommend: Link To List
Resources For False Teaching: Recommended Websites For False Teachers/Teaching 
Video Playlist: Christian Questions, Topics, False Teachers, Insights 
Video Playlist: New Christian Believer 
Video Playlist: Understanding False Teachings
Video Playlist: Sermons To Grow From
Social: TwitterInstagramFacebook

Luke 11_39-40, careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy–full of greed and wickedness. Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside_

3 thoughts on “Listening Prayers & Their Dangers

  1. Excellent and thorough study on listening prayer! I have bookmarked this page. I have been thinking about writing about this myself, but you have already done the work. (Thanks!) There are numerous “Christian authors” promoting this teaching and there seems to be little discernment. Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Cindy! Yes, I was talking about the topic of Contemplative prayer with a sister in Christ, and she mentioned she wanted a resource that tackled the topic with a lot of scripture. I’ve written multiple posts on Contemplative prayer before (in 2021, especially), but they were more informative and helping people see the New Age lies. I hadn’t used much scripture to breakdown the counters and other issues. So, what you see is the result. I’m grateful it is helpful, and I would still say, go ahead and write up a post. Your followers may not be my followers, and you might be able to reach people I can’t. Plus, the more we research, the more well familiar we become with the material to give God glory and help others. 🙂 May the Lord guide and bless you.

      Liked by 1 person

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