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Do We Do Enough Listening?

February 6, 1990



A LITTLE boy was asked to draw a picture of his father. First he drew a comfortable armchair. Then he said, ``I'm going to draw him with very big ears -- and tiny lips.'' Perhaps you have longed for someone who would listen sympathetically to you. Lending an understanding ear to one another is kind and loving. But no person can fully satisfy our longing for loving attention, strength, and wisdom. The only real way to gain these is to take our desires to God. And then listen. We don't need to detail all our wants and worries to Him -- He is already filling our need with His infinite goodness. We do, however, need to be willing to turn to God and to listen to His guidance. This is effective prayer, and good things happen when we listen humbly and wholeheartedly to God.

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One day a young man was telling a parent of a difficult decision that he was facing. The parent was tempted to give advice but knew there was a better way. Silently asking God in prayer for what to do, the parent remembered a sentence by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. It was ``Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.''1 One meaning of designate is ``to make known directly''; so the parent knew that God, the Father of us all, would tell His child directly what to do. The young man made a wise decision that led to a good resolution of the difficulty. He had heard God's direction and followed it.

The Bible frequently urges us to hear God's Word. And Christ Jesus spent many hours listening for God's direction. In Luke, for example, we read, ``He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.''2

What sort of things do we hear when we listen to God's Word? We hear that He is all-powerful; that He is always present with each of us; that He is divine Love and infinite Mind, the source of all wisdom; that He is Spirit and has made man in His own image -- spiritual and like God in every way.

Sometimes we need to listen and keep listening, doing our best to understand more of God, until we feel His presence. But the closeness to God we gain when we persist in listening to His guidance makes it all more than worthwhile.

In everything we do, then, we can listen for God's direction with the utmost attention and obedience. We need to take care that neither pressure nor haste nor self-will distracts us from following His guidance. Even in the smallest details of an ordinary day, we can listen for, and follow, the leadings of spiritual intuition.

I like this hymn verse as a practical agenda for a good day:

Come we daily then, dear Father,

Open hearts and willing hands, Eager ears, expectant, joyful,

Ready for Thy right commands. We would hear no other voices,

We would heed no other call; Thou alone art good and gracious,

Thou our Mind and Thou our All.3

We may not want bigger ears, but developing a larger, keener ability to listen will greatly bless us.

1Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 454. 2Luke 6:12. 3Christian Science Hymnal, No. 58.