Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who’s listening?

"Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O LORD my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, 'My name shall be there,' to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. "Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.  1 Kings 8:28-30

It is fascinating to watch a young couple in love.  They have no problem communicating with each other, talking excitedly and enthusiastically by the hour.  Sometimes they merely sit and communicate with eyes and presence.  There is an interesting dynamic on their communication;   they are both listening.  There is a real interest in each other that seeks to hear the need of the other.

Then they get married and something changes.  They begin to feel as though they have heard most of the interesting things the other has to say, or that they know most everything about the other there is to know.  At times they are not quite sure they like what they hear the other saying.  So listening isn’t nearly as easy, exciting or important as it used to be.  It doesn’t come automatically as it once did.  Now it is work.  They begin to lose the motivation and the inclination to listen to each other.  And again we wonder who is listening.

The problem not only exists in marriage.  We live in a world filled with distractions.  Carrying cell phones and ipads we seem to be connected everywhere except where we are.  Interpersonal relationships are becoming secondary to our Facebook presence.  We can be looking someone straight in the eye, nodding agreement and grunting “Uh huh” while our minds are miles away carrying on multiple conversations with our “friends.”  We give only superficial attention to what is being said, or we miss it altogether.

When we do have an opportunity to talk, most of us would rather talk than listen.  Instead of giving attention to what others are saying, we often are thinking about what we are going to say next because we have the same need they do...for someone to hear us.  The result may be conversation, but it is not communication.  

Admittedly, listening is hard work.  Some people speak so slowly we want to drag their words out of them.  We think five times faster than the average person can speak, and that intensifies the problem of listening.  All in all, listening can be a drag.  Some talk about trivial and insignificant matters that bore us.  Some can’t seem to say what they mean.  Others don’t know when to wrap it up.  But those very people who are most difficult to listen to may be the ones who most need a listener, and God may be asking us to be those listeners.  There are some things we cannot do, but if we have at least one functioning ear, we ought to be able to listen.

In the emotionally charged world we live in all of us need to talk things out.  We need to be heard and we need to hear ourselves talk in order to perceive the emotions that lie within.  Have you ever watched a child talk things out?  They use their invisible friends at times and just talk away about what is going on and what they are going to do.  We have a friend who is not visible to the eye but He is to the heart and spirit.  

Dan Rather, CBS anchor, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers.  She answered, "I listen."  So Rather turned the question and asked, "Well then what does God say?"  To that Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, "He listens."

Who is listening?  God is listening.

Scripture to Claim:
Hear my prayer, O LORD! And let my cry for help come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; incline Your ear to me; in the day when I call answer me quickly.
Psalms 102:1-2

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