One of the most amazing qualities about God is that He created the entire expanse of the universe, and yet, in his power and might, He chooses to listen to us. Pray, pray, pray, He says, over and over in His Word. He desires for us to talk to Him. This is no surprise, really, because He created us with an innate desire to be listened to, to be known.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. — Jeremiah 29: 12-13
This truth was reiterated to me at a daylong seminar on listening last weekend. Here I heard godly wisdom about listening as well as a new perspective on listening from a blind woman. (For this woman, listening is often a matter of life and death as she rides the subway or crosses the street.)
In listening well, we reflect God’s character to others and glorify God. So, what qualities make one a good listener? Here are only a few:
- Listening to God first
- Praying before and while we are listening, praying without ceasing
- Not being afraid to ask someone how they are, even if we know we don’t have answers for them
- Asking questions about what people are saying
- Discerning a speaker’s heart and digging deeper
- Restating statements in question form
- Trusting that where you fail as a listener, God is in control
The danger of practical seminars, of course, is the temptation toward guilt. One teenage girl told me that she couldn’t present what she had learned about listening to the larger group—it would be hypocritical, she said, because she was such a bad listener. My response was that there wouldn’t be so many Proverbs and verses about listening if it came naturally! God gives us commands and wisdom about listening, He equips us with His listening spirit, and then He redeems us when we will ultimately fail and sin as we listen poorly. Let us go forth and practice listening, blessing others as we are blessed by Jesus who hears our every cry and prayer.
P.S. If you are looking for new music to practice your listening skills on, try A Thousand Amens, a worship album by Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Va.
P.P.S. For even more media that has blessed us, and we believe will bless you, too, watch this quick YouTube presentation of the gospel, Falling Plates.