Reflections on spiritual themes (and a few other things).

Tag: Hearing

Hearing Jesus

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying…

Matthew 5.1-2 (NASB95)

Lord Jesus, I wish I could have heard you preach. I wish I could have followed you on foot in the villages and in the countryside, in public and in private. I wish I could have sat at your feet as did your disciples when you were here.

Lord, I’ve wondered how you sounded when you spoke. Did you speak loudly or softly? Were you animated or calm? Was your tone forceful and assertive, or was it quiet and assuring? Had I been there, would your voice have startled or frightened me? Would it have repelled me? Or would it have drawn me to you and made me desire an endless relationship with you?

Dear Lord, although I wasn’t there in your presence, I hear your voice in the pages of Scripture. I’m so thankful that your Holy Spirit preserved your sermons, sayings, parables, and conversations. When I read them, I picture you in my mind’s eye, and I imagine that I’m there. I read these words of yours and I’m challenged by their depth, inspired by their loftiness, encouraged by their kindness, and humbled by their truth. 

You challenged your audiences to have ears to hear, and that same challenge is for me as well. Dear Jesus, I’m not a good listener. When I read your words in Scripture my mind wanders. When I try to hear your voice in those words I’m distracted by the competing voices and noises in the world around me. As I ponder your teachings, I often get lost in my own thoughts. 

O Teacher, help me listen! Help me filter out the noise. Help me concentrate so intently upon you that nothing else can appeal to me. Let me comprehend the truthfulness, beauty, clarity, practicality, and depth of your matchless words. Let me hear you and you alone.

Jesus, my Lord and my God, grant me eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart to understand. Draw me nearer to you for your name’s sake, amen.


President Franklin Roosevelt hated White House receptions, especially the mindless small talk and chitchat in the receiving lines. At one reception he decided to try something different. When people greeted him, he said, “Good evening. I murdered my grandmother today.” Every person he greeted replied in the same way: “That’s nice. Keep up the good work. We’re proud of you! God bless you, Mr. President!”

Every person except one. A foreign diplomat whispered, “Well, I’m sure she had it coming.”

How do you know if you’re a good listener?”

The answer is simple: by how your respond.

The Bible often reminds us of the importance of listening:

  • Proverbs 1.5 – “A wise man will hear and increase in learning…”
  • Proverbs 18.13 – “He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.”
  • James 1.19 – This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…”
  • Matthew 13.9 – “He who has ears, let him hear.”

Listening is so important that one of the New Testament words for sin means a failure to hear. In Romans 5.19 the apostle Paul was describing the effects of Adam’s sin. He said, “For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.” The word “disobedience” literally meant “to hear amiss; to fail to hear; to hear wrongly.” In other words, Adam wasn’t listening to God.

The issue is NOT whether the sound waves strike the ear drum and register in the brain. The issue is whether we have enough love and respect for God that we really pay attention to what he tells us. 

That’s also the same issue when we listen to others. We may not be listening for the purpose of obedience the way we do with God. But the motive is the same. If we love and respect the other person, we’ll pay attention. We’ll actively listen. We’ll engage the other person in constructive communication. 

Often, we’re listening only for an opening in the conversation: an opening to get out of it, or an opening to give them a piece of our mind. Neither of these constitutes listening.

So, when someone speaks to you – whether it’s God or someone else – learn to listen with love.