Receptive Listening

by Candy Arrington @CandyArrington

In the morning let me hear about your faithful love, because I’ve put my trust in you. Show me the way I should live, because I trust you with my life.                         Psalm 143:8 NIRV

On my morning walks, I usually encounter the same couple, at the same place, at the same time. The man always wears headphones. Not ear buds, but big, thick, cover-your-whole-ear headphones. Although he walks with his wife, it’s obvious he’s tuned out everything around him. He doesn’t hear birds chirping, leaves rustling, or cars approaching. He’s in his own zone, and conversation with his wife, or anyone he meets, is non-existent.

One morning, as I passed them, I realized I’m often like the headphone man. Even though I talk to the Lord each day, I don’t always listen. Frequently, my ears are plugged, because my mind is consumed with solving problems, pondering concerns, or planning the course of my day. Most often, I spend a lot of time requesting and rehashing and very little time listening.

Receptive listening requires a cessation of speech, a silencing of not only audible language, but also mental self-talk. Often, after an incident, we craft and perfect what we wish we’d thought to say on the spot. But what would happen, if instead, we turned off the mental speech-making and listened to what God has to say about the situation?

The Children of Israel were backwards-looking whiners. They spent a lot of time complaining about what they didn’t have and wishing for a return to their former existence. (Apparently, the abuse and living under the oppression of slavery had slipped their minds!) When Moses wanted to get their attention, the message was often preceded with “Hear, O Israel!” In other words, “Heads up, people. I’m about to tell you something important.”

God often prefaces his message to us in a similar way. It may be through the words of a friend, family member, Scripture, or an event. Or he may speak to us directly via the Holy Spirit. No matter the vehicle for the message, if we’re not listening, we miss important directions.

Spiritual lack of focus is a struggle for all of us. What happens in our physical life almost always overtakes our spiritual life, unless we make a conscious effort to integrate the two. The world yells for our attention while the spirit quietly prompts. The best way to tune in to God’s voice is to spend time in his Word. Scripture ingestion and digestion are as vital to spiritual life as food is for physical nourishment. “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, Lord God Almighty” (Jeremiah 15:16 NIV).

Sometimes, it feels like God isn’t listening because he doesn’t answer in the time frame we establish, but Scripture assures us he hears, “And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for” (1 John 5:15 NLT).

Remember, we are the ones with the hearing problem, not God. Today, tune out the noise of the world. Take off the headphones. Remove the ear buds. Silence the TV. Stash your phone. Stop talking. Open your heart, mind, and spirit and listen. Can you hear God’s voice?

Receptive Listening – insight from @CandyArrington on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Candy ArringtonAbout the author: Candy Arrington has written hundreds of articles and devotionals, often on tough topics. Her books include AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B & H) and When Your Aging Parent Needs Care: Practical Help for This Season of Life (Harvest House). Candy is a native South Carolinian, who gains writing inspiration from historic architecture, vintage photographs, nature, and the application of Biblical principles to everyday life. Learn more about Candy at, where you can also read her blog, Forward Motion: Moving Beyond What Holds You Back.

Candy’s book, When Your Aging Parent Needs Care, is a help to those who face the special effort of caring for a parent. It provides support and direction to enable the caregiver to be spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for the day to day challenges they face.

Join the conversation: Do you often hear from God?


2 thoughts on “Receptive Listening

  1. Quiet time with the Lord. I have turned off the t.v. and am listening to His creations making sounds outside. From the cicadas to birds to the gentle breeze in the palm trees, His wonders are truly awesome.


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