Ecclesiastes 3:7b … a time to be silent and a time to speak… (NIV)
Christianity Today recently published an article that needs to be heard by caregivers, as well as visitors, to those who are sick and suffering, My Most Reliable Ministry Tool: Keeping My Mouth Shut
In a world of noise, people need us to listen with God’s ears, by CHRIS NYE. [i]
Following are a few excerpts from that article:
Our world is crowded with attention-grabbers. Everything in your phone is working to monopolize your eyes and ears. Our work demands our attention. Our families seem to never get enough of it. In a world of noise, listening—true, active, humble listening—is the powerful ministry of the Father in which we get to participate.
God’s Focused Attention
We know that God hears our prayers—at least, we say we know this—but have you ever considered what it means that he listens? Think about your friends who you would describe as particularly good listeners. People hear you all day long, but there’s a kind of presence a good friend gives you that cannot be replicated easily.
They sit with their eyes focused on you, their posture is active, and they’re not checking their phone or darting their eyes across the room as you speak. To assure you they are picking up everything you say, they nod and sometimes repeat your phrasing or mimic your emotions. Their face changes, their head tilts, and they laugh before you can. They’re right there with you. As you think through these traits, you might be thinking about how rare it is to find a good listener.
In a world of noise, listening—true, active, humble listening—is the powerful ministry of the Father in which we get to participate.
God, the almighty creator, is a tremendous listener: “I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live” (Ps. 116:1–2, ESV, emphases mine).
“We are surrounded by noise,” wrote Eugene Peterson in Reversed Thunder. “The world is a mob in which everyone is talking at once and no one is willing or able to listen. But God listens. He not only speaks to us, he listens to us. His listening to us is an even greater marvel than his speaking to us. … Our feelings are taken seriously. … We acquire dignity. We never know how well we think or speak until we find someone who listens to us.”
Unsure of what we want from God, our prayers are often more rambling than refined. We stumble to put together words. We murmur in the dark and try to thread together the scattered thoughts from our day. Meanwhile, God is listening. He is attentive. He reacts.
Chris Nye is a pastor, writer, and sometimes professor living in Silicon Valley with his wife, Allison. His latest book is Less of More: Pursuing Spiritual Abundance in a World of Never Enough.