Years ago, I came across a profound statement which I wrote out and tacked up in the study area of my office so I could see it on a regular basis. If I knew who said it or where I got it I would certainly give them credit. The statement simply says, “Nothing I say today will teach me anything. If I am going to learn, I must do it by listening.” Listening is a skill many people never take the time or effort to develop. Few people are naturally good listeners. Most often when someone is talking to us our mind is already thinking about what our response will be instead of listening. Many relationship troubles are the result of hearing what we want to hear instead of what is actually being said. Often, I have had couples repeat what they heard the other party say, and the results were not accurate. We must take the time and effort to truly listen.
I often wonder how good we are at listening to God. We do a lot of talking to God, but if the statement that nothing I say will teach me anything, our talking to God does not equate to spiritual growth. Listening to God is the avenue for growth. There are many passages in scripture which talk about listening or hearing. John 8:47 says, “He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” Matthew 11:15, “He who has ears, let him hear.” II Tim. 4:3, For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
Prayer is a wonderful thing and we need more of it. But it is not just a one-way conversation. Prayer also involves hearing and listening to God. Often, we talk to God telling Him what He needs to be doing. God may have a better plan. Scripture invites us to make our requests to but also for us to listen to what God may want to say to us. I urge you to work on your listening skills. Remember you learn by listening.