Listen Series, Part 2: The Importance of Listening

I'm listening

This is the second of three lessons in the “Listen Series” about listening to God that I put together for the Harvard Avenue College Ministry Fall Retreat a few weekends ago. 

Listening is an important part of any relationship, especially our relationship with God. Often we come to Him with a list of wants and demands, but don’t take time to sit silently before Him. Imagine if your friends did that to you…

Why can listening be so powerful? What is important about disciplining yourself to listen to God on a regular basis? The writer of Ecclesiastes offers some insight in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 (ESV): 

1Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

This passage starts off with an important command: guard your steps when you go to the house of God. In other words, it’s a serious thing to come to worship with the community of believers. Do we take it seriously today? Often, I know I don’t. Christians need to prepare their hearts for worship: examine your heart, confess sins, and pray that God would speak to you through corporate or private worship.

After we have prepared our hearts for worship, it is essential to maintain that focused and right heart attitude throughout our worship. Part of this involves taking time to listen to God. The “sacrifice of fools” in verse 2 refers to offering a sacrifice just to do it; not with an obedient heart or right motive (ie Cain in Genesis 4 & Saul in 1 Samuel 15). It is similar to what Martha was doing: being distracted with serving & doing instead of listening to Jesus (as we saw in Listen Pt. 1). God has given us our own gifts to sacrifice: our bodies (Romans 12:1-2), service (Philippians 2:17), giving (Philippians 4:18), and praise (Hebrews 13:15-16) all belong to Him. Often we offer these without listening to Him first. In order to obey and give, we must first listen.

Finally, when it comes to our relationship with God, it is important to remember one important fact found in verse 2: God is in heaven, we’re on Earth. That doesn’t mean He’s removed from us; it means He has an eternal, bigger-than-we-could-ever-know perspective. When it seems our world is out of control, He sees the plan behind it. When we pray, we often ramble on and on out of anxiety, unpreparedness, and weakness. However, Solomon encourages us to have a plan when we pray: be honest and prepared, not repetitive, let our words be few, and most importantly LISTEN.

Learn It. Love It. Live It.

[image credit: Melvin Gaal on Flickr]


About Lawson Hembree
Lawson is an entrepreneur, ministry leader, and outdoors enthusiast who also enjoys blogging about business, ideas, and theology. Want to continue the discussion or write a guest post? Let's Connect!

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