I love the Lord, because He hears
My voice and my supplications.
Because He has inclined His ear to me,
Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live. (Psalm 116:1-2)
Listening isn’t easy. We know how important it is, and we know how we feel when people don’t listen. Despite what we know, there always seems to be room for improvement in our listening skills. It’s just so hard to listen—really listen—when we have something to say.
Listening to God requires a growing relationship. In some ways, it’s more difficult than listening to a person, because we don’t hear God’s words in the same way we hear others’. We don’t hear His voice the same way we hear others’. We don’t look into God’s eyes or take cues from body language the same way we do with others’. But let’s not get lazy because of that. We compare our relationship and communication with God to our relationships and communication with others, using what we know best (our relationship and communication with others, because they’re what we see and experience most regularly). When we start with what’s familiar and more understandable, when we see gaps, we think “Well, I have this with other people, so I expect the same with God.”
We expect an instant response, because we get instant responses from other people. We expect explanations because we ask for them. We expect the information and instruction we want, because we can access just about any information and instruction in everyday life. We expect from God what we expect with others…but we’ve gotten the comparison, the measuring stick, backward.
God created us and built the need for relationships and communication within us. Our relationship and communication with Him comes first and sets the standard. It’s going to be different than our interactions with others, but it is still the standard. God can give us what no one else can. Just because He doesn’t give us what we want and think we need doesn’t mean He can’t.
God exceeds our relationship and communication with anyone else. God always listens. He hears everything in our lives—not just the things we intentionally tell Him. He listens to our hearts. He listens to our thoughts. He hears our attitudes and our emotions. He pays attention to our desires and our intents. He notices when what we say and what we do doesn’t match up. He pays attention to every detail.
And He does so because He loves us.
He sets the standard for listening. When we listen to Him, we’re not as attentive as He is, and we come to Him with expectations, but we can learn to listen better. We can hear Him through His Word. We listen as He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit. He prompts us, strengthens us, and challenges us. He leads us into and through challenges.
The way we listen more and better is to listen more and better. We listen as our relationship deepens. We know God’s voice because we hear it and pay attention. Our attentiveness leads to familiarity, and our familiarity fosters better hearing.
Perhaps one of the most common questions I hear from women about God is “How do I hear His voice? How do I know it’s His voice and not mine?” The best answer I have is “Know Him. Better and better.” As we know God, reading His Word, sharing with Him, doing daily life with Him, we foster a familiarity with Him that becomes a focus, a center in our daily life. When anything enters our lives, we then filter it through the truth of who He is. We hear from God not just because of what He’s speaking in the moment but because of who He says He is and what He has taught us all along. We run to Him every time we have a question, but many times, He answers with reassurance, “You already know this one.” He prepares us along the way, and as we hear, we listen.
Dear God, thank You for hearing and listening to me. Give me Your passion for our relationship. Foster my hearing and develop my listening skills. I want to honor You as I listen to You and to others. I know that Your care for me through listening, even when I’m not intentionally sharing, is a reflection of Your love. I want to reflect Your love through listening, too. Open my ears, my eyes, and my heart to fully experience Your presence and will.