I’ve learned that to truly listen to someone you should look them in the eye while he is speaking. Imagine how that person would feel if you were looking him in the eye verses looking at your watch!
Giving undivided attention to someone makes them feel valued, and when you listen with such attentiveness, you prove that he is valuable. Looking at the person speaking to you shows their worth.
What better voice could we give our attention to, than our Father God?
Try This Exercise to Be Attentive
Sometimes noise is difficult to run from and almost impossible to avoid. Life today provides us with many more options for noise swirling inside our ears. When the power goes out, the silence is startling and even somewhat eerie. The whir of the refrigerator is suddenly gone. The air flowing through the vents disappears. The hum of that background noise being omitted leaves us with less sound. At that point, it’s easier to hear the rustle of fabric or a sigh that usually gets lost in a large room. Even the noise of the simple act of closing a door can seem to reverberate louder.
What sounds are you subconsciously blocking out so you can comprehend what these sentences are saying?
Close your eyes for a moment and listen.
What do you hear?
As I write this I hear the obvious sounds: worship music playing, indistinct voices in the distance, the soft roar of the heat blowing out of the vent. After listening more closely I hear: the baby monitor in the other room, and I can hear myself breathing.
Quite a bit of concentration or paying attention happens when we are consciously listening. That was quite an exercise!
What Does the Bible Say About Being Attentive?
Solomon understood how to be attentive and taught it to his son:
My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. Proverbs 4:20-21 ESV
The Hebrew meaning of the word attentive there is “to prick up the ears, to cause to hear.” Like an animal pricking up his ears because his very life depends on the keen listening. Incline means “to stretch or spread out.” If you cup your hands over your ears, you will “make them bigger,” causing the sound to be amplified.
One day Jesus shared the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:3-9), and at the end he cried out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” like He did many other times. When He explained the parable, the word hear was used in every section (Matthew 13:18-23). The word hear in the Greek means to hear, to attend to, and to consider what is or has been said.
Turn your eyes to the speaker. To Father God. Prick up your ears! That is attentiveness.
And you know what? It’s reciprocal. Our prayers don’t disappear into thin air. Psalm 66:19 (ESV) says, “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.” See the sweet knowledge we can glean from this verse? God has “pricked up his ears.” He has heard our prayer!
The Number One Way to Hear God’s Voice
After I did the listening exercise above, and really stopped to concentrate on what I was able to hear, I started thinking about it. I was able to gather more details about the not-so-obvious sounds the second time around when I increased the level of intensity in my listening.
What if we did that with listening to the Lord?
I wonder if I take for granted the truths that God wants me to really hear. Yes, I know He loves me. Yet if I listen and I hear Him say it, and let it be the thought in my head while all others are pushed out, I receive a deeper revelation of it.
I want to give more attention to His voice. What else am I missing because I haven’t stopped to concentrate on it?
Sometimes when we find ourselves in a mess it’s because we haven’t stopped to give our attention to what He says in His word. I wonder what I was thinking during the times I have plugged my ears to what He was saying. I wonder why I didn’t run to my prayer closet and hear what He would say about any situation?
I encourage you to run from distractions that you may run right into His presence and hear His voice!
So stop. Concentrate on Him. And be attentive. Really listen. It’s the number one way to hear His voice.
What are some ways we can block out distractions? How can else can we listen to what God is saying?