Listening is defined as:
1.to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing; give ear.
2.to pay attention; heed; obey (often fol. by to): Children don't always listen to their parents.
3.to wait attentively for a sound (usually fol. by for): to listen for sounds of their return.
We are all familiar with listening. We listen every day to the radio, the television, as well as our friends and love ones. We have the ability, but do we have the skill? Did you know that listening is a skill? People take courses on effective and active listening skills. Couples will often learn listening and communication skills when going through pre-marital or marital counseling. It is a vital component in our ability to communicate with one another and an often forgotten component in our communication with God. We talk-talk-talk-talk to Him, but never quiet ourselves long enough to listen for His answers.
There are 332 occurrences of the word "listen" in the NIV Bible. I found it interesting that many of the occurrences of "listen" are connected to the word "understand". Listen and understand. If we aren't listening we cannot understand, can we? How do we listen and understand God? Read your Bible! He has left us all these wonderful instructions and life lessons and most of us never read it. We are listening to his instruction by reading the instruction manual. We can also listen with our hearts. I believe that God speaks to us. Not necessarily in a booming voice from above or by a burning bush in the desert, but in our hearts. When we are inexplicably driven to do something kind, when we are moved by conviction to change our behaviors, or when we have the need come over us to pray for someone right now - we are hearing God. When we heed to the good things that are available for us to do - we are listening to God. The Holy Spirit is directing us and nudging us to act every day. Unfortunately, we are so busy running full speed ahead through our days that we ignore or don't even feel the nudging and opportunities are lost.
The Bible tells us that we aren't suppose to just read the Bible and let all that information lay stagnant in our brains. "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." (James 1:22). We can't just know it -- we have to live it. We can't live it if we don't know it.
Take some time this weekend to listen, really listen. Listen to your spouse, your children or to a friend in need. Listen to some worship music (one of my favorite pastimes). Of all the listening you need to do, be sure you are listening to the most important voice of all, that of your Father God.
Heavenly Father, you have placed great value on listening - there is a reason we have one mouth and two ears. Listening must be twice as important as talking! Guide us each and every day to heed the important things in life that you are trying to call to our attention. Lead us to times of quiet where we can study your Word and listen for your voice. Help us to become more effective communicators with you and with each other. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
In His Peace -