Hearing and Listening

I’m in the process of writing my next book. In it I include a chapter on the art of listening. As I’ve been praying, writing, meditating on what God gives me to write, I have been stirred and challenged in my own heart. I want my walk with God to go deeper. Therefore, I must have my spiritual ears open to hear Him say, “this is the way, now walk in it.” Many of you reading have the same desire. I thought I would share an excerpt from my next book which I am calling — Strength For the Weary. I hope it blesses you.

Making time to come before God with the sole intent of listening is something many have never thought of doing. When we think of prayer, we imagine the words we will speak to Him, imploring His daily help. We don’t always imagine ourselves just waiting, listening.

We feel we have an understanding of what prayer is and we practice it with regularity.  We are content for the most part, but often, even in our most earnest of supplications, we can feel as if our prayers aren’t getting above the ceiling.  The reason may be as simple as learning the art of listening.

The key is in how we approach God.  Of course, as His children, we have the joyful right to rush into His presence at any moment, and He welcomes us to do so.  I’m referring to something different.  I’m referring to those moments when we deeply desire to hear Him.  There must be no rushing about during those intimate moments of communing with our Father. 

In his book, Making All Things New,  Henri Nouwen wrote, “Jesus’ life was a life of obedience. He was always listening to the Father, always attentive to His voice, always alert for His directions.  Jesus was ‘all ear.’  That is true prayer: being all ear for God.  The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.”

We read in the four Gospels that Jesus often rose before daybreak.  The reason?  He was praying.  He was seeking His Father’s direction for the day.  He was doing more than petitioning.  He was listening.  He was engaged in private, intimate communication with His Father.  His trained ear was open and earnestly waiting for His Father to speak.

You and I are busy.  Our world is fast paced and instant.  Through computer technology, television, and the microwave, we can watch news, play games, be entertained, communicate, and eat our meals in fleeting minutes.  It’s all instant.  Therefore, it’s no surprise when we come to God, we want instant response, too.  It’s the way the world has conditioned us, but we don’t come to the throne of God as the world comes; we come in a spirit of sacrifice and humility.  We must come as David wrote in Psalm 51:17, “The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit.  You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.”  

As we walk into this New Year, may we each one be blessed with great joy and inner peace as we practice, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the art of spiritually listening.

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