Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Listening And Learning

Today's Proverbs 31 Devotion, Altercation to Altar Call, talked about the importance of listening to God, and then obeying His voice. But all too often, life gets so distracting, we not only forget to listen, but we may even forget how to listen!

Let's do a little exercise to refresh our memory. If your radio, television or IPOD are on, turn them off.  Now sit up straight in your chair, close your eyes, and be as still as possible for 60 seconds.  Listen intently to anything you hear, making note of each sound. Then open your eyes.

What did you hear? The sounds of conversation around you... a busy office... cars passing by outside your window... dogs barking... birds singing... children playing... the ticking of a clock... crickets chirping... the sound of your breath?

Seldom do I stop, sit still, and just listen. But when my body is calling for rest, and I actually give in to a few moments of silence, I hear things that I would have otherwise ignored or tuned out,  and maybe you realize you often do the same thing after doing this little exercise.  Listening to God takes the same concentration and silence, as does pausing to listen for background noise in our lives. 

Since I work from home, I usually have the TV running even though I rarely actually watch it. It's just background noise to break up the silence. Yet, when I need to spend time with God, the TV gets turned off immediately, so I can concentrate in the silence and listen for God's whispers. If I am in the car, I turn off the radio if I want to pray, so that my thoughts are not subconsciously tuned into the music, instead of focusing on God.

Noise can become one of the biggest barriers to hearing God's voice when we fail to pause and listen in silence. Not only noise from external things, but also from our internal thoughts.  God is ready to pull us into conversation with Him the second we are ready to talk, but it's easy to do all the talking, and none of the listening! 

Listening to God requires a deliberate choice to not only shut off the TV, radio or other outside noise, but to shut out the chaos swirling in our hearts and minds. Although listening seems like a passive activity, it is actually one that requires effort, attention and a conscious choice to listen, whether talking with a person, or with God.

My twelve year old son Michael exhibited these listening skills at church in the story I shared in today's P31 devotion, and then he moved towards God. His small act of obedience to hearing God's voice in His spirit reminded me of the importance of keeping faith simple, like a child - even when it comes to listening.

Michael felt bad about something he had done, he felt God nudging his heart to seek forgiveness, and He moved to the One who could offer not only that, but also help for the future.

His prayer was probably simple, sounding something like this, "Here I am Lord. At the altar. I'm sorry for what I did. Please forgive me. And help me with this issue. Amen." Simple, yet sufficient. Brief, yet based on solid belief. Plain, yet powerful.

He believed that he heard God speak through His Word. He believed that God held the power to settle his heart. And he felt a desire to seek after God - even if it meant standing up in front of an entire congregation and getting on his knees.

Listening.      Believing.      Moving.      Seeking.

Four incredible lessons we can learn about listening with the faith of a child.

Imagine the life changing lessons we can learn if we listen to God consistently, habitually, and silently. How might our lives be different if we allowed His Words to override our own, even when we feel like doing all the talking? How would our faith increase if we obeyed His nudges, even if it simply meant moving towards Him for forgiveness, love, mercy and help?

Have you been trying to hear God's voice as you pray about a situation in your life?  If He seems silent, have you considered that maybe He is speaking, but there is too much "noise" in your life or in your heart? If so, consider setting aside some time today to spend true silent time with God, and focus your ears to be in tune to His voice alone.

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (NLT)

Luke 11:28   Jesus replied, “But even more blessed are all who hear the word 
                                                     of God and put it into practice.” (NLT)

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Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head with this one. This is just what I needed to hear TODAY... a reminder to stop all the background noise (life and its issues) and stop, be silent and LISTEN!!! Thanks Tracie, I enjoy your devotionals. God Bless!

Diane said...

I needed this today, and as I go through this struggle in my heart and my head I know the best place to be is on my knees before God. Thanks for the reminder and your honoring of God through your sharing. Blessings!

Kathy Hakes said...


The very day the P31 devotion had been delivered in my e-mail, I had thought of the verse from Matthew 13:8-9. I teach at an elementary school. I also do Safety Patrol. That morning I thought of that scripture. They had planted seed for the new all-purpose field where the former school building had existed. I saw mourning doves eating. And I thought of the seed scripture. I thought "WOW" when I read the devotion. Thank you Tracie.