The Listening Protocol

The Listening Protocol

If any man hear my voice . . . Revelation 3:20

Prayer is two-way communication. Rosalind Rinker said, “Prayer is dialogue between two people who love each other.” It takes two people for prayer—one who speaks and one who listens. Neither party dominates the conversation. God not only listens to our prayers, but He also speaks to those who pray. Prayer is as much about listening as it is about speaking. Listening to God’s voice is the most neglected part of prayer. With so many voices competing for our attention, the listening protocol is absolutely essential.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). This verse gives us three tests to confirm our salvation. First, God’s children hear Jesus’ voice. Second, the sheep are known to the shepherd. And third, the sheep follow their shepherd. Hearing, being known, and following are three positive indicators of saving grace. But the passage also says that Jesus knows His sheep and calls them by name (see John 10:3). Our shepherd deals with His sheep personally. He calls us by name. But to hear His voice, we must be within earshot.

Jesus emphasized this truth more than once: “The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (John 10:3). Again He said, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). The language is emphatic: Christ’s sheep hear His voice.

In the letter to the Laodicean church, Jesus wrote, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Jesus took the initiative and knocked. He did not send an angel; He went to the believers in person. Notice that the phrase is prefaced with that important two-letter word—“if any man hear my voice.” Not all men hear the Lord, but if any man hears His voice and opens the door, Christ promises to come in! There is no need for us to beg Jesus to come in, no need to drag Him in. He will enter any heart that is open to Him. But we must hear Him speak before we can open the door.

When Jesus enters, He dines with us. He fellowships with us, and we fellowship with Him. He enters our hearts to converse with us. Maybe you have heard the expression about being on praying ground. When a person is on praying ground, it means he is on speaking terms with Jesus.

What could be clearer? Jesus speaks to all who have hearing ears, and He listens to them as they speak back to Him. We should stop trying to demystify the heart religion portrayed in the New Testament. Cerebral teachers fill heads but empty hearts. Their sermons are theoretical, not experiential. It seems their goal is concocting a theological puzzle that attempts to reconcile conflicting concepts into an airtight system. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies (see 1 Cor. 8:1). After listening to heady teachers, our heads can be spinning. But after conversing with Christ on the Emmaus Road, the disciples’ hearts were burning. A. W. Tozer once said, “You can be as straight as a gun barrel theologically—and be as empty as one spiritually.” Intellectual preaching puffs up, but it does not build up. Biblical preaching, on the other hand, enhances the understanding while inflaming the heart. There is a subjective element in the spiritual life that must be experienced rather than explained.

Jesus was “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He embodied not just grace but truth as well; not only truth but grace also. The discipline of prayer is similar. Prayer relies on both scriptural truth and the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit. It is not either-or, it is both-and. We must have both heat and light to pray correctly. The Word is our roadmap, and the Spirit is our GPS—God’s positioning system.

We must pray through the words of God and allow the Spirit to lead us. Prayer requires the engagement of both heart and head. That’s why prayer is just as much about listening as it is about speaking. The Spirit of God is a communicator. We see this in the words of this hymn:

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses.
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me,
And He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known.
He speaks and the sound of His voice
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing.

God still speaks to people today. Do we have “ears to hear”? When we ask God for direction, we need to stop, wait, and listen for His impressions. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). We must allow God’s peace to rule, govern, and referee in our hearts. We must practice pausing and allowing the divine referee, the Holy Spirit, to direct us with His peace in any given matter. We must allow Him to implant thoughts, ideas, and holy ambitions in our minds. Waiting on God means lingering in His presence and responding to His divine promptings. We can develop this important skill of listening by deliberately sitting at Jesus’ feet daily. No wonder the disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). If we have never learned to listen for God’s voice, we can add to their prayer with something like this: “Lord, teach us to listen as well as to speak to You in prayer.”


  1. “Prayer is dialogue between two people who love each other”. It is two-way communication between God and man.
  2. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
  3. To have a praying heart means that we are on speaking terms with Jesus. Any hindrances between Him and us must be dealt with.
  4. True prayer is Scripture driven as well as Spirit led.


  1. Review the scriptures about God’s voice referenced in this chapter.
  2. Open your heart’s door to Jesus. Allow Him access into your life. He wants to come in and fellowship with you. Speak with Him now.
  3. Do you need guidance? Pause in prayer. When you ask God a question, be quiet, and listen for His response.
  4. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His words. Develop the art of holy listening by sitting at Jesus’ feet daily.

Taken from “Approaching God‘s Throne: Biblical Protocols for Prayer”. CLICK HERE to order your copy TODAY!


1 Comment

  1. Laura PetersMarch 6, 2020

    These protocols are very helpful! Bought the book (Biblical Protocols for Prayer) and am enjoying it and sharing it with others.😊


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Harold Vaughan

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Evangelist Harold Vaughan is the founder of Christ Life Ministries, Inc. To date, his ministry has led him to preach in forty-eight states and many foreign countries. Click on "ABOUT" in the menu bar to learn more about Harold.
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