Friday, June 7, 2013

Are You Listening?

A while back I saw a sign in a little shop that I really wished I could afford to buy for our home.  Since then, I've seen the saying passed around on FaceBook several times.  I can't quote it exactly, but it goes something like this:
In our family
We do Sharing
We do Laughter
We do I'm sorry
We do LOUD really well . . .

With four rambunctious kids, that describes our family perfectly.  Rarely is there a quiet moment in our house when all four kiddos are home.  And on top of all the noisiness, my kids are fantastic talkers.  (I think they should all grow up to do something that involves verbal communication!)  So much that oftentimes when I'm giving them instructions, I have to remind them, "It's my turn to talk now; you need to be quiet and listen."

I have to admit, my kids got their inclination toward talkativeness naturally...from me.  The one thing I found myself getting in trouble for when I was in school was talking too much.  Sometimes I just can't help it!  Lately I find this tendency bleeding over into my prayer time.

You see, we often think of our prayer time as just a time when we can talk to God and tell Him everything that we're thinking and feeling.  Which is good; God wants to hear those things!  But too many times we forget that our conversations with Him are not supposed to be one-way conversations.  We forget to stop talking and just listen for what HE has to say.  In Psalm 46:10 God tells us to "be still and know that I am God," and in 1 Kings 19 we are reminded that sometimes He chooses to whisper to us.  Which means that we have to actually LISTEN in order to hear Him.

Several days ago I was attempting to pray for my husband.  My intent was to pray for his attitude toward a certain situation; I was going to pray that he would act the way I wanted him to.  And as I opened my mouth to pray, I felt the Spirit very gently -- yet firmly -- clap His hand over my mouth.  "It's my turn to talk," He seemed to say, "you need to be quiet and listen."  I was startled to say the least, but in obedience I ceased my prayers and just sat and listened.  And what I learned in that moment was incredible.

I heard God very clearly tell me to stop praying for myself while trying to disguise it in prayers for my husband.  I heard Him instruct me to let go of my own expectations and to stop praying that Scott would act the way I wanted him to.  I also learned the joy of being obedient to the prodding of the Holy Spirit.  As I sat and marveled at what happened in that moment, I felt such an incredible peace and satisfaction...such closeness with my Heavenly Father.

The kind of closeness that is cultivated by mutual communication, not just a one-way overflow of the mouth.

How are you at listening?  Do you take pause long enough during your prayers to hear the Spirit whispering to you?  Do you give God time to pull you in close and share His thoughts with you?  I challenge you to do that this week.  Spend some time just listening, inviting God to speak to you.  (And if you're willing to share, I would love to hear from you about what God has been telling you!) I think you will find your prayers much changed, your relationship with God much closer when you stop talking and just listen.

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