Listening is one of the most important words in the bible and it is the avenue through which we have a relationship with our Creator. The act of listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages. In order to develop into adulthood, we have had to endure learning this skill as our parents have dutifully passed on several instructions. We need instructions to cope with various avenues of life, without which we will surely follow the wrong path. Unfortunately, in today’s society, we have been made to believe that we are not answerable to anyone, not even to a higher power. It is often said that ‘the biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand, we listen to reply’. Ponder on this for a minute!
He created us and wants to be involved in our lives but many times we either don’t know this fact or we decide we don’t need Him but many people remember him during emergencies. He gave you free will and as a result, He will not force His way into your life. On the other hand, we love to be shown but not told what to do and this in my opinion encourages passivity, the notion that we do not want to get involved in the process. We can’t just wait for God to show up. Engage Him in his word and hear what he has to say about that situation. ‘Let us reason together’, is found in the bible although I have had people argue with me about this. We need to be active listeners.
Listening is mentioned in the big book (bible) over 500 times in various forms. This includes the use of hear ye, hear, hear me, harken. This shows the level of importance attached to our hearing and listening to biblical instructions. It is a form of engagement that indicates a relationship with the person you are engaging with, be it your creator, a friend, a parent, employer, customer and the list goes on. It is important to stress here that listening does not mean agreeing, you decide if the information you receive is relevant to you.
There is something important about listening, it is a conflict resolution medium. The more we train ourselves to listen more than speak, the more empathy we feel for the aggrieved. The words ‘I hear you’ become more relevant to the one who feels less listened to. In the same way, we can listen more to our creator in order to receive instructions for life. James 1:19 enjoins us to listen more than speak.
David, the psalmist was a man who practiced the presence of God often by seeking His will before he took any battle step. Shame he didn’t remember to ask God about Bathsheba. He penned a large portion of the psalms as a result of his experience in various battles and how God saw him through. Some battles were won and some were lost. Listening doesn’t guarantee we don’t make mistakes but it does give us assurance of winning more than losing as long we are abiding.
Steps to listening
Be attentive, we can listen to our creator through reading His Word. He can speak to us through other people or circumstances. This can happen to us anywhere and not just in the confines of a religious building. Many have claimed to hear God whilst washing dishes or in the bathroom. He is everywhere by His Holy Spirit and lives in you. We can hear Him in the hustle and bustle of life while he remains silent.
While it is true that some people can hear God speak during the activities of life, for some a dedicated time is needed where every form of distraction can be avoided. This is the reason some people take time to go for retreats or times alone. I have no doubt this works but everyone will need to find what works for them. It is sometimes referred to as inquiring and listening. This was practiced a lot in the bible where people go to inquire from God.
We live in a world of distractions and noise. It seems that every time we turn around we find ourselves caught up in some new activity. We are constantly on the go, sometimes busy doing nothing. In an effort to get our lives together we often accept invitations that bring us to places where we will be tempted to be busy and to get distracted. The more we listen to someone, the more we are able to discern their voice and become more intimate with them, so avoid situations that interfere with those listening opportunities.
Listening changes lives while speaking can encourage the gathering of large crowds of people. The one who listens more may not be gathering crowds but gathering knowledge and wisdom. Many people may have listened to you speak but have lives have been transformed by the great speech? We must also practice listening to people around us, in our family, our colleagues, neighbours, friends, foes if we want our creator to lend us His ears. It is an act of love and respect.
Benefits of listening
We gain wisdom and understanding from our Creator. Like a father interacts with his children, the same way our creator wants to pass on valuable information to us for our growth and benefit. Listening this way doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down somewhere and doing nothing although that method is also valuable. Listening may involve spending more time listening to or reading the bible or some inspirational material. Something you hear in that process may be of benefit to someone else.
Listening helps to discern the voices relevant to you including the voice of your Creator. ‘I can’t hear the voice of God’ is words that I’ve heard so many times. In the bible, Samuel struggled with hearing God’s word. He had to learn how to listen, who to listen to and how to listen. Even though the prophet Eli had failed God, he was able to encourage Samuel in developing his listening skills. He instructed him to say ”Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3)
Listening informs our prayer life so that we ask accurately and avoid ‘asking amiss’. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will come in to him, and will dine (fellowship) with him, and he with me”. (Revelation 3:20). The power to listen rests with us.
Read scriptures relating to your faith often even if it makes no sense at the time of reading. Our minds are like sponges, something you read today may not make sense but may become relevant in future as events and circumstances occurs. If one version doesn’t suit find other versions you can relate with. The bible for instance has many versions for various reasons I dont’ want to address in this article.
Listen to podcasts or Youtube videos of relevant topics to you. You’ll be amazed at how other people discuss issues you may have understood in a different way. This could also lead you to discussions with other believers online or in person although as I write, COVID is making that impossible. There are lots more opportunities to listening aids, take time to search and you will not b disappointed..
In conclusion, let’s take time out of our busy schedule to fellowship with the Creator of the universe. We are missing a lot in life when we feel that we are the main architect of our lives. By taking time to listen in whatever environment we find ourselves, we become better people.