The supreme form of listening of course is listening to God. Our God wants a two-way fellowship with his children. Often we usually make it a one-way fellowship. We come to God with our spiritual shopping list and bombard Him with our requests. We rarely stop to listen to what he has to say. In the end the whole thing is in danger of becoming boring and sterile.
George Muller of Bristol was an immensely influential figure in the nineteenth century. he said that the secret of his effectiveness was his determination to keep his soul happy in the Lord. He did this by regular scripture reading and listening to God in the morning. I quote his words.
- I saw more clearly than ever that the first great primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord . . . not how much I might serve the Lord, . . . but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers . . . and yet, not being happy in the Lord, and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in a right spirit. Before this time my practice had been . . . to give myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning.
- Now, I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God, and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord.
In the first half of the twentieth century the Oxford Group was very influential. Although I think that their emphases were a bit one sided and unbalanced, they did introduce the idea and the practice of listening to God to many Christians. Their practice was quite simple; chose a quiet place, preferably in the morning, get yourself relaxed, take a pencil or pen and a clean sheet of paper, then simply make your mind receptive to God. Write down whatever comes to you even if it seems a bit odd. At the end of your session delete whatever is obviously foolish or erroneous.
As you persevere you will be surprised what comes.