In a sermon I recently preached on the subject of prayer, I reminded the congregation that God gave us two ears and one mouth, which perhaps might be a hint that we should listen twice as much as we speak. I was applying this to prayer, but I think it could apply to everything else…our conversations, our arguments, our discussions with our family, our debates…there is nothing we do that wouldn’t be improved by more listening and less talking.
Listening is a way of God. Did you ever think about that? No matter what you take to him, he is guaranteed to listen to you. There is NOTHING you can say, no evil or destructive behavior you need to confess, no grudge so petty, no angry word expressed, that he won’t hear with loving concern. As the psalmist says, “He didn’t hide his face from me. No, he LISTENED when I cried out to him for help.”
Psalm 22 (Common English Bible)
All of you who revere the Lord—praise him!
All of you who are Jacob’s descendants—honor him!
All of you who are all Israel’s offspring—
stand in awe of him!
24 Because he didn’t despise or detest
the suffering of the one who suffered—
he didn’t hide his face from me.
No, he listened when I cried out to him for help.
For this alone, God is worthy of our praise. He inclines his ear to our suffering. He is found by those who seek him. He is worthy of the worship of all nations.
25 I offer praise in the great congregation
because of you;
I will fulfill my promises
in the presence of those who honor God.
26 Let all those who are suffering eat and be full!
Let all who seek the Lord praise him!
I pray your hearts live forever!
27 Every part of the earth
will remember and come back to the Lord;
every family among all the nations will worship you.
28 Because the right to rule belongs to the Lord,
he rules all nations.
29 Indeed, all the earth’s powerful
will worship him;
all who are descending to the dust
will kneel before him;
my being also lives for him.
30 Future descendants will serve him;
generations to come will be told about my Lord.
31 They will proclaim God’s righteousness
to those not yet born,
telling them what God has done.
What can we do in response? We can listen in his name. We can incline our ear to suffering. We can come back to him with repentant hearts. We can refuse to hide our faces from people who need help.
We can hear the way he hears.
Find someone today who simply needs to be heard, and offer them the gift of your time and your presence. And remember to listen twice as much as you speak.