Do you know how to spot the best listener in the room?
It’s the person everyone wants to talk to. And when you’re talking to a really good listener, you know it. Good listeners have a way of making you feel important, valued, and special. It’s kind of amazing, really. Yet it’s a skill that a lot of people overlook. Some people focus on asking the “right” kind of questions, and questions help, but it’s really not about what you ask. It’s about how you pay attention and respond to the answers.
If your mind is occupied with the related story you want to tell or the next question you should ask, then you’re not really taking in what the speaker has to say. That’s why bad listeners can ask all the “right” questions, yet never really get to know the person they’re talking to.
The beauty of it is, this is a skill you can learn. Listening well can help you be a better friend, a better girlfriend/fiancé/wife, make you better at your job, and even improve your relationship with God.
My friend Joy Eggerichs tackled this topic in her blog at www.loveandrespectNOW.com. I just love her take on listening:
A lot of these listening principles can also apply to your faith. If, like the bad listener Joy describes, you approach God focused primarily on your own needs or interests, you’re likely to miss out on a lot. For us busy working women, I think it’s especially easy to fall into a pattern of setting your own faith agenda: I’m going to pray for 15 minutes. I need to cover these topics, hit a few praises, a few requests, and a few questions, wrap it up and move on to the next thing…
It’s not that having questions or concerns is somehow wrong or selfish. It’s just that they can’t be your only impetus for approaching God.
Instead, try approaching a prayer or bible study time from God’s perspective. What is His agenda for your time together? Maybe just sit quietly with God for a few minutes, asking Him to lead your heart to the topics He desires you to focus on. God made us, and He already knows us inside and out. We’re the ones who need to know Him more!
When I shift focus from me to God, my faith feels richer and more vibrant. And the more I know God and learn about Him, the less I feel burdened by all those questions and concerns that my prayers tend to focus on.
Talking to God is great. But listening? That’s even better.
What helps you get to know God better in prayer time? How do you “pay attention” to what God has to say and respond? Let’s share our ideas with each other in the comments.