Nothing is more important for praying together than a listening heart. Do you remember the story of Solomon's prayer in 1 Kings 3? The Lord told Solomon He would give him whatever he asked. In 1 Kings 3:9 Solomon asked God for a “discerning heart.” The Hebrew word translated “discerning” is “shema.” Some of you have heard of the Jewish prayer called “The Shema.” Shema is the first word of Deuteronomy 6:4. “Hear O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.” Shema means to listen or to hear. I do not object to translators rendering this word, discerning, here. But literally Solomon was praying for a listening heart. Listening is the foundation of spiritual discernment.
Listening is crucial for praying together. If you come into prayer full of what you want to say, you will miss what God is saying to you. C.S. Lewis gave us a poem in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.
They tell me, Lord, that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since but one voice is heard, it’s all a dream,
One talker aping two.
Sometimes it is, yet not as they
Conceive it. Rather, I
Seek in myself the things I hoped to say,
But lo!, my wells are dry.
Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The listener’s role and through
My dumb lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.
And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talkers, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.
When we pray, especially when we are trying to pray together, we need to be able to listen for what God wants to breath through our lips and into the group prayer. And of course, God will speak to you as others in the group pray. As you learn to listen to others you will hear what God is showing others in the group, and what He is saying to them. Soon you realise that God Himself is speaking to you through the prayers of the others.
Such listening hearts are indeed a work of God in our midst. And it is a thrilling evidence of His holy presence in our prayers.