Prayer is a two-way street. When we first learn to pray, it may seem as though we are the ones doing all the talking. As we grow in prayer, however, we learn to recognize God’s voice. When we speak with Him, He speaks to us. Learning to recognize the voice of God’s Spirit is critical to effective prayer. Jesus told his disciples: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). God activates our hearing receptors, so every born-again Christian can hear God’s voice.
Armin Gesswein often said, “Fred, the only prayers that reach the throne are prayers that start at the throne.” What he meant is that when we seek God, He prompts us to pray what is on His heart and mind; in a sense, He gives us our prayer assignment. When we pray what He tells us to pray, our prayers will always be answered. At the heart of this principle is listening prayer.
One of the ways God activates listening prayer is through the nine manifestation gifts listed in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12. We refer to these particular spiritual gifts as manifestation gifts because it says: “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:7). It implies that these gifts are activated spontaneously in a worship-based prayer environment as the dancing hand of the Holy Spirit chooses.
Unlike the seven motivational gifts listed in Romans 12, which are given permanently to believers at the moment we are born again, these manifestation gifts are spiritual empowerments given spontaneously and serendipitously by the Holy Spirit, i.e., anyone in the upper room can receive a manifestation on any given occasion. These nine manifestation gifts are all means by which Christ manifests His presence in the middle of an upper-room gathering, and all nine of these gifts are means by which God speaks to His people. When used properly, the manifestation gifts exalt Christ. They were manifested in the first upper room in Jerusalem when they all spoke in tongues, and they continue to be manifested in upper rooms today all over the world.
God is inviting you to go deeper—to press in—and He wants to go deeper with you. If you feel like shutting down and walking away right now, it may be a matter of control. Most people who walk away from upper-room intimacy with God walk away not because of theological issues, but because of control issues. You will discover that the upper room is like a threshing floor where God exposes every parameter of control in your life.
Once you realize that in Christ you are unconditionally loved, accepted, safe, and significant, you will be able to relinquish control. The more you receive His love, the more you will trust Him. The more you trust Him, the more you will relinquish control, and the more you relinquish control, the more you will encounter Christ. The more you encounter Christ, the more you will discover your life purpose. When you value His presence, you will make time to receive His presence and to minister to His presence. You will make time personally in your schedules to spend quality time in your private upper rooms to minister to His presence.
Parts of this article have been developed with permission using material from Author and Rev. Fred Hartley, International College of Prayer.
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