I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his faithful people.
Psalm 85:8 NLT
Listening is crucial to every part of life. But that doesn’t mean that it is a simple process. It requires a huge amount of thought and care so it isn’t surprising that courses in listening are widely available these days. There are essentially five stages to the listening process – receiving, understanding, evaluating, remembering, and responding. I am sure that the psalmist would have totally agreed with this and seen it as a good description of what it meant to “listen carefully” to the Lord. It’s possible to hear someone speaking without taking on board anything that they have said. But, when you listen you deliberately receive what they are saying. However, even that isn’t enough because you need to understand the words that they are using. Without that their words are nothing more than sounds. Having understood the words they need to be evaluated. What exactly was the person trying to say and how does it apply to you personally? When God speaks to us we need to see how his words relate to our everyday lives. We then need to remember his words so that they continue to influence our thinking. But all of this process is worth nothing unless we respond to what we have heard through our actions.
At the end of the day, the Bible’s truths can wash over our heads and have absolutely no effect. Or they can transform our lives. As I write these notes day by day I am acutely aware that the key question is whether we are truly listening to what God is saying. We all hear many voices each day – from friends, family, colleagues, the media, and so on. But the crucial question is whether we are giving quality time to listen to the voice of the living God.
What could you do to help you to listen more fully to God’s voice day by day?
Lord God, thank you that you are a God who speaks. Help me to listen more attentively to you each day. Amen
Photo – St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem