THE LOST ART OF LISTENING TO GOD

THE LOST ART OF LISTENING TO GOD

Teachers have an axiom which we use to get our students to keep quiet. We tell them that there is a reason why we have two ears but only one mouth. And that is because we should listen twice as much as we speak. Heard that one before?

But as we grow older, as we move up in life, as we grow in stature, we become more accustomed to giving orders and listening becomes a lost art. In the office, we shoot off lists of instructions in our emails, not stopping to see if our staff are facing any difficulties in meeting our demands. At home, we bark instructions to our children; ‘Clean your room, switch off the TV, do your homework, go to bed’; not stopping to ask how their day was and if they needed help with their school work. In fact, listening has become such a novelty that finance and insurance companies have begun to jump on the ‘listening’ bandwagon, telling their would-be customers that their company’s plans will best fit them just because they ‘listen’.

Now what about God? Have we lost the art of listening to God? Has our relationship with God become transactional? Have our prayers become nothing more than instructions, and God, nothing more than our genie who is supposed to grant our wishes? When you last prayed, did you say, ‘Father, please give me the promotion’; or did you say, ‘Father, is that promotion going to be good for me’? Food for thought isn’t it?

“Listen to counsel and receive instruction,
That you may be wise in your latter days.” Proverbs 19:20

There is a very good reason why our Father wants us to listen to Him, and that fundamental reason is because He wants us to grow in wisdom. Now growing in wisdom does naturally entail growing in knowledge, as it is written,

“Cease listening, my son, to instruction and discipline
And you will stray from the words of knowledge.” Proverbs 19:27

But there is so much more than mere knowledge that our Father wants us to receive; and chief amongst all is discernment.

“There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21

Forks are always coming up in our lives and we need to choose one from the other. And the only way that that can be done well is to know which is the better choice. But how do we know that? That’s where wisdom comes in.

Now, before you think that I am about to go off on some 5 step program to gain wisdom, I assure you beloved, I am not. Because there are really only two things you need to do in order to gain wisdom;

“If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 [AMP]

The first is ask. We need to ask. When faced with a fork, we need to seek the Lord’s counsel. And if we think about it, it’s sensible, isn’t it? Our Father is the beginning and the end, the creator of heaven and earth. Who better to know what our future holds than the one who writes our future? Indeed, only the Lord’s counsel will stand.

Not only that, our Father gives generously, without rebuke or blame. When you ask of Him, He’s not going to smack His forehead and tell you what a dumb question you just asked. He is going to instruct you and guide you like a Father guides His child; lovingly. For remember that when it comes to our Father’s guidance, this is the picture that we should always have in mind.

“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

When He is guiding us, He places us in plenty, He rests us where resources can be found, He restores us from the inside out, He realigns our priorities and then He leads us on paths of righteousness.

But how do we receive from our Father, how do we benefit from His guidance, how will we receive His wisdom for the road ahead, if we don’t listen?

Beloved, sometimes when we are faced with challenges, we get too preoccupied with the protection and the provision. When we have a mountain of bills piling up, all we can see is our lack of wealth. When we are suffering ailments in the body, all we can see is our lack of health. And though the material is important, we need to remember that just like it is said,

“House and wealth are the inheritance from fathers,
But a wise, understanding, and sensible wife is [a gift and blessing] from the Lord.” Proverbs 19:14 [AMP]

Wisdom, sensitivity and sensibilities are even more valuable, and they can only come from the Lord.

Now, that is not to say that we should not ask for provision and protection. Jesus did say,

“And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:13-14

So by all means, ask away. But as you are asking, as you are looking forward to His provision and protection, don’t miss out on the more important things. For these things change the person on the inside and not just enhance the person on the outside. And just like any responsible, loving father would, our Father places great importance on changing us from the inside out, as Peter tells us,

“You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.” 1 Peter 1:17 [MSG]

So in the same way that you will never give up trying to change your child’s bad habits, our Father will never give up on molding you into the perfect child He originally made you to be. And that is why it is said,

“A man of great anger will bear the penalty [for his quick temper and lack of self-control];
For if you rescue him [and do not let him learn from the consequences of his action], you will only have to rescue him over and over again.” Proverbs 19:19 [AMP]

Seriously, we are doing ourselves a favor when we listen to our Father’s counsel. For there if there is a lesson our Father wants you to learn, if there is some area our Father wants effect change, He’s not about to give up on it, because He’s not about to give up on you. So wouldn’t it be better to listen and learn quickly?

Beloved, there are many ways that our Father will speak to you. It may be through that little voice in your heart, it may be through scripture, it may be through books or written messages. It may even be when you least expect it. But just like it has been each and every time our Father has spoken in the Bible, it will be unique and recognizable to the intended, so that His message will be clearly received.

But in order for that to happen, you need to first of all be willing to listen, and the way we do this, is to look away from what we want, and enter into a consultative relationship with our Father in which we ask Him for His opinion on the decisions we are about to make.

So beloved, remember that we have two ears and only one mouth. For every request that we make to our Father, be ready to listen, twice over, to what He has to say about it. For when we accord such reverence to our Father, we will realize that truly,

“The fear of the Lord leads to life,
So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.” Proverbs 19:23 [AMP]

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