The other day I pulled up in a car park and noticed something a little strange happening across the road. There was a chap on his mobile phone screaming, shouting, pacing up and down gesturing furiously at the person on the other end.
What was he talking about? I have no idea! I noticed him because, it was hard not too. He seemed very angry and wound up. I don’t know who he was talking to, what the circumstances were or what had upset him too such a level. What my experience tells me is that, often, people get this wound up when they feel as though they are not being listened to.
Listening is, perhaps, one of the most underrated and under valued gifts at there is. To give somebody that moment in time when we hear their story, joys or worries,gives them a value and worth that is truly incredible. When we don’t listen,then, it tells that person “you are not worth bothering with”.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote that many people are looking for somebody to listen to them but,
“They do not find it among Christians, because Christians are talking when they should be listening.”
In her wonderful book “Listening”, Anne Long says that we need to learn to listen to four significant ‘voices’; Ourselves, Others, The world and God. I might want to change the order around a bit but, in her book, she raises the valuable questions of both “who” and “how” we are listening.
In the book of James we find this piece of advice;
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. (James 1 vs 19 The Message)
So, let me ask you, when did you last really listen to somebody? I mean really, give them your full and undivided attention? It’s not easy is it?
As I thought about listening, I reflected that when we come before God in prayer, God gives us His full and undivided attention. He listens, truly listens. He listens to our worries, guilt, concerns and also the joys and happiness. Now, that does not mean He will always give us what we want, or demand but, I can be assured, that God is more willing to listen than I am to talk to Him!
My reflections then led me to the most uncomfortable question of all! If God gives me such a level of attention, do I give Him the courtesy of listening to Him? In my prayer life, am I too quick to speak and too slow to listen?