The lost art of listening

There is no shortage of noise today. In fact, it’s hard to get away from noise at all. And when we do, often the awkward silence makes us uncomfortable. We want to fill every moment with talking, with music, with anything. What are we trying to avoid? What are we pushing away in the cacophony?

A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper.   1 Kings 19:11, 12 The Message

We hear things all day long–car horns, children talking, phones ringing, TV, radio, music, you name it. Even in our prayer time the tendency is to do all the talking. In this passage Elijah hears God speaking in a still, small voice. You can’t hear that kind of conversation if your mouth is open.

Listening is an acquired skill, an art. It is more than just hearing; it’s actively taking in, processing. It is alert, quiet expectation. It is straining for the input, for the voice at the other end of the line.

Prayer is just as much about listening as it is about talking. You cannot have a conversation without two parties engaging. Next time you have a time of prayer, I encourage you to be aware of how much you talk and how much you listen. God is just waiting for you to ask what He has to say to you.

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