Listening is Loving

Funny, not funny

A man in the back row of the church comes forward for prayer. The pastor asks him what he wants. “I need prayer about my hearing,” says the man. The pastor prays passionately over the fella, then asks loudly, “How’s your hearing now?” The man replies, “My hearing isn’t till next Thursday!”

It’s funny until it’s YOU feeling misunderstood and unheard. Poor communication is compounded by poor listening skills.

Are you a good listener?

Are you a good listener or do you jump to conclusions, fill in the pauses, and hijack conversations? Can you keep your focus on the speaker while they talk? Are you in the habit of asking clarifying questions? Do you wait patiently if someone needs time to formulate a thought or find a word?

Before you answer, think about how to listen to your hubz, and your kids, your mom, and the lady next door who saves all her words for you, because she doesn’t get out much.

White knuckle listening

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.

Listening is loving.

I believe active listening is loving. It makes people feel heard and important. It indicates we will set our pride aside and value another’s input. 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. Since God needs nothing from us, a way to demonstrate our love for him is to listen to him and for him.

When it feels like you’re in a sound proof room and your prayers are not getting through to God, consider that it might be your listening skills.

Listening for God.

There are certainly times when God is silent, but let’s just make sure that if he is talking, you are paying attention.

If your idea of prayer is mentioning a couple thank you’s, dropping in an I’m sorry or two for good measure, then delivering your wishlist off at the foot of the throne as you spring off to do the next thing, you’re not very likely to hear the Lord of the Universe’s answer.

Just sit and wait

When you finish praying to God, pouring out your heart or begging for a must-have, honor and respect him enough to pause and listen. Sit and wait for God to respond. It takes practice but good listeners have the patience to wait on the answers and will demonstrate love by listening.

How can you demonstrate love by listening? Either to people or God? Leave me a comment. I’d love to read how you’ve woven listening and loving together.

Verse for today: The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry. Psalm 34:15 (NIV)

Prayer: God Almighty, I want to know you more. 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 time and invite me to spend more with you. In Jesus Name. Amen.