“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him . ” (Psalm 37:7, ESV)
Are you a good listener? Sometimes we mistake hearing as being the same as listening. We may use the words interchangeably, but there is a difference. Hearing is the perception of sound. Listening involves understanding the meaning of what is being said. When we think about our relationship with God, we want to be sure we not only hear what He says but also understand what He would have us to know.
Throughout the ages, God has spoken to men and women. Sometimes it was an audible voice. Other times He used dreams or visions. Or He might speak through godly counsel. One time He even used a donkey. Perhaps the most common way we hear His voice today is through His written Word. However God chooses to speak to us, the most important thing is that we recognize His voice. And listen.
Samuel was a young child when he first began to hear the voice of God (I Samuel 3). At first, because of his age and immaturity, he did not recognize the voice and thought it must be Eli, the priest, calling him. But Eli realized that it was the Lord speaking to the child. He instructed Samuel to reply, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” It was a valuable lesson for the one who would one day become Israel’s spiritual leader.
If it has been a while since you’ve heard the voice of the Lord, perhaps it’s because the noise of the world is drowning out the sound of His voice. Or perhaps you are so busy telling the Lord all you want Him to do that He has no opportunity to speak. Prayer should be a two-way conversation, but many times we do all the talking. We do not take time to listen. To be a good listener, we must be attentive, patient, and quiet. When we quieten ourselves before the Lord, we can hear what He is speaking into our spirit.
Learning to recognize God’s voice is important. The easiest way to do that is to spend time in His presence. The more we are with Him, the easier it is to distinguish His voice from all the other voices clamoring for our attention. It is all about relationship and time together. John 10:27 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
When we sit quietly before the Lord and listen to His voice, He will:
- Guide our steps in the right path.
- Warn us if we are straying from His will.
- Reveal His purpose in our life.
- Encourage us during times of trials and testing.
- Give us words of encouragement for others.
We live in a confusing and ungodly time. We are surrounded by voices trying to pull us away from that one True Voice. Pay attention and do not be deceived. Listen carefully to the Shepherd’s voice. It will never lead you astray.
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1, ESV)
A Jewish proverb says, “No one is as deaf as the man who will not listen.” It is time for all of us to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Lord, sharpen my hearing so that I have no trouble distinguishing Your voice from all the other voices around me. Lead me, guide me, and help me to discover Your purpose and plan for my life.