The joy of listening to God

Originally published online on September 1, 2022

Hearing is generally defined as the physical act of perceiving sound with the ear. Listening, on the other hand, is generally understood to include being thoughtful and attentive while you hear. We may be hearing someone speak but not be listening to what they’re saying—not paying attention. In my study of Christian Science I have been interested in how this applies to listening to God for inspired direction. 

The prophet Isaiah assures us that we can hear God’s counsel: “If you stray to the right or the left, you will hear a word that comes from behind you: ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (Isaiah 30:21, Common English Bible). If we’re truly seeking God’s input, we will recognize the spiritual authority of such guidance, whether it comes to us audibly or in our thoughts. 

Of course, as we hear such guidance from God, we still need to pay attention and heed it. Jesus warns against letting distractions get the better of our good intentions to follow God’s direction. In a metaphor of a farmer trying to grow a crop among thorns, he explains: “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced” (Matthew 13:22, New Living Translation).

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