What makes a good listener? Being a parent of elementary aged children, when I think of this question I think of how, or rather how ‘well’, my kids listen to me. It’s not always such a pretty picture. I wonder what God thinks of our listening skills when it comes to our relationship with Him?
“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:8-9)
When it comes to listening to God, I think that there are a few qualities that make someone a good listener. First off, a good listener tunes out distractions. In the physical, this means turning off screens like cell phones, laptop or tv, and really listening to someone. At times, this can equate to a place of silence or solitude to really hear what God is saying to us.
But God can also use the distractions of life and speak through them to us. When I am paying attention and really “listening well” for God in my days, I often find that the diversions and distractions can become moments of revelation from God about the attitude of my heart or the direction of my day.
Next, a good listener…listens. Meaning that they use their ears more than their mouths in conversation. I think that this is one of the most difficult parts of listening well. Both in the physical and the spiritual. We often pray the same sorts of prayers, and prayer is time well spent. But how often do you take time to listen either during prayer or after you pray? I wonder how we would hear God speak to us through the small sounds, smells, sights around us if we stopped long enough to pay attention?
Lastly, a good listener responds to show that you are listening. In conversation this means giving a nod, or an uh-huh, or saying, “tell me more.” I think that one of our responses that God loves to hear is, “so what I hear You saying God is…” as we lean into Him to discern what we are hearing from Him. And “I’m not sure about what You’re saying, or where You’re taking me God, but let’s walk the road together.” That’s a road where “love and faithfulness meet together” (Ps 85:10a).
I believe if we turn our heart and our ears more often to God and less often to the folly of our stubbornness or need for control, that we would see God begin to revive us (Ps 85:6), our cities, the Church, and our land.
“[God] promises peace to His faithful servants” (Ps 85:8). And this also is a road where “righteousness and peace kiss each other” (Ps 85:10b). The righteousness of God found in and through Christ and His salvation, and the peace of God given freely to us in grace naturally beget our faithfulness in listening and responding well to God. How will you listen well today?