A man in the back row of the church came forward for prayer. The pastor asked him what he wanted to be prayed for.
“I need prayer about my hearing,” said the man.
The pastor prayed passionately over the fellow, then asked loudly, “How’s your hearing now?”
The man replied, “My hearing isn’t until next Thursday!”
In Real Life…
It’s funny until it’s you and me feeling misunderstood and unheard.
Poor communication is compounded by poor listening skills.
Let’s be honest. Sometimes being a good listener is difficult.
Instead of listening to understand, we may jump to conclusions, fill in the pauses, and hijack conversations. We may struggle to keep our focus on the speaker while they talk. We may become impatient if someone needs time to formulate a thought or find a word.
Think about how you listen to your spouse, your kids, your mom, and the lady next door who saves all her words for you because she doesn’t get out much.
I’ve had to learn to be a “white-knuckle” listener.
To honor the person I’m in conversation with, I hang on to something till my knuckles turn white, if necessary, to keep me from multitasking or fidgeting.
- I hang on and I look them in the eye.
- I zip my lip so I don’t hijack their story or make them feel rushed.
- I smile and nod engagingly so they feel acknowledged.
- I repeat what they said in my own words and ask them if they want advice or just to be heard.
- If I don’t agree with them, I pause to consider a response that will turn away wrath and hold space for peace if not unity.
I believe active listening is loving. It makes people feel heard and important. It indicates we will set aside our pride and value another’s input.
There’s also something else that indicates a loving listening posture: The way we interact with people in conversation says a lot about how we expect God to answer our prayers.
When we put a list of demands on God, it reduces his status to that of a genie.
We do all the talking and we expect him to do all the listening and then acting. And yet true prayer is a dialogue—it requires us to speak and to listen.
Did you know that listening is a way to demonstrate our love for him?
When it feels as though you’re in a sound-proof room and your prayers are not getting through to God, consider that it might be your listening skills.
There are certainly times when God is silent, but let’s just make sure that if he is talking, we are paying attention. If our idea of prayer is mentioning a couple thank-yous, dropping in an I’m sorry or two for good measure, then delivering our wish list off at the foot of the throne as we spring off to do the next thing, we’re not very likely to hear the Lord of the universe’s answer.
Instead, when we finish pouring out our heart or begging for a must-have, we need to honor and respect him enough to pause and listen.
This week, TODAY even, sit and wait for God to respond.
It takes practice, but good listeners have the patience to wait on the answers and demonstrate love by listening.
“The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” —Psalm 34:15
God Almighty, I want to know you more intimately. I want to hear your voice. I want to recognize your work in my life. Protect me from being deceived by the enemy, who is so good at whispering lies in my ear. Guard my mind so that I am able to focus on listening to you better, so I can show you my love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.