Friday, January 6, 2017

Learning to Listen (Again)

The conversations with my dad these days are different simply because I'm listening more. I feel like I spend more time listening to him instead of talking. To the observer, it looks like there are very long breaks or that I might not even be on the phone. Sometimes, to me, it feels like an eternity, because this is not my natural inclination, but I'm learning that these pauses are part of the conversation and he's still there. When he speaks again, it's usually some rich thought that I was not expecting. So I've learned in conversation with him, that these lengthy breaks are good and are to be expected. These lengthy breaks are called listening.

I am applying this concept to my prayer time. Somehow we've been taught that when we pray, we should be as verbal as possible - request, praise, acknowledge, worship. We're so busy bombarding God with our words that we don't hear what He's saying to us. So I've added listening to my prayer time. Just being still. Just reading a scripture and waiting. Just pausing. Listening requires concentration so for me, I cannot pray when I'm in bed, or tired else I will fall asleep. I have to find a space where I can be intentional, focused and yet patient.

In listening, it's not like the heavens will open up and God will speak directly to you, but you will receive promptings in your Spirit; another scripture or thought may be placed on your mind; you may be prompted to reach out to someone; to forgive someone. Be patient; be willing. Just listen.

Just as I've learned to listen again to my earthly father, I'm doing the same to my Heavenly Father. Unlike my earthly father, He does not change. I should have been listening all along.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak,......James 1:19 [KJV]

To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 
And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 
And a stranger will they not follow but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 
This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep

In your quiet time, how do you cultivate the art of listening?

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