“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” ~
It is very frustrating, is it not, to try to speak to someone about something that might concern you or a problem that you might have only to discover that the person is not really listening. In the middle of your pouring your heart out, they are already trying to “fix” things. Even worse, they might minimize what you are saying and begin a litany of their own woes thus proving to you that they were not really listening to you at all.
There is a very fine art to listening. As complicated as it might be, it can be summarized in a few easy steps:
1. Shut up
2. Hear what the other person is saying
3. Resist the temptation to talk
4. If/when you talk, echo back what they said to make sure you heard them correctly
5. Then, and only then, let them know that you heard them and ask how you can help
You see, we don’t really know all the answers. That is all right, though, because when a person pours his or her heart out to us, they are not looking for answers. They are looking for a compassionate, listening heart. If we listen to them, we do more good that if we waste their time — as well as our own — by talking.
The same is true of our prayer life. Too many times we spend our time talking to God when we could better use that time in an attempt to listen for God to speak to us. God does speak, you know. He speaks quite often. The problem with most people is that they are too busy talking to hear God’s tiny, whispering voice.
Don’t sit with the Lord and mess it up by talking. Instead, quiet your heart and soul and truly listen for the Lord to speak. When He does, don’t waste His or your time talking back. Instead, listen deeper, echo back what you thought you heard Him say to you, and ask Him what He wants of you.
FAITH ACTION: In your prayer today, take time to listen for the Lord rather than to speak to the Lord.