For years now I have thought—and said—I believe a lot of the problems in this country would be reduced, if not eliminated, if people would just shut up and listen to one another. I don’t know many who would disagree with the observation that most on the political right do not listen to the concerns of those on the left; and that most on the political left do not listen to the concerns of those on the right.
We have become very good at not listening.
We tend to tell others what is right and ask what we want from them. Too often we don’t communicate our true thoughts and feelings. We are afraid of them knowing—of what they might do with that insight into us. And when we are telling them what we are willing for them to know, too often we don’t listen. When others are talking, we ask ourselves whether we agree with them (or are they agreeing with us). We think of what we are going to say in response to them. We plan our arguments, if we disagree, even as the other is talking to us. We use the time we should be listening to plan our response, so we never hear them.
Do we pray to–talk with God–the way we talk to one another?
Those of us who pray are quick to tell God what we want from Him—safety, health, success, and wealth. We might ask Him to provide these things for others—particularly those we care about. The more mature might ask Him to forgive or give us the ability to forgive. We might even ask Him to make us faithful to Him.
But God is our Father—and fathers want their children to talk to them—to openly and honestly bare their hearts to them. We can see this in the Psalms David wrote. Honest, even gritty at times, sharing his joys and heartbreaks, his desire to serve, and his bitter desire for revenge. God didn’t turn away from him. God listened and shaped him.
And then there is the listening part. We’re not very good at this, so if you aren’t doing this well, I suggest the following steps:
1. Go somewhere without distractions and say nothing. Just listen to what God might want you to hear.
2. Think about what He has already said. God often uses His word to remind us of what we need to hear right now. Open your mind to His word and let the Holy Spirit convict you of what you need to hear (this is much easier if you are studying the word regularly, but that’s another blog).
3. Listen to God speak through others. Proverbs tells us that wisdom often comes through counselors. So, listen to God as he speaks through others.
I have found that the more I listen, the easier listening becomes. God is an excellent communicator. We don’t have to work hard to understand Him. We just have to be willing to shut up and listen.
Know Jesus, and Be Faithful!