From Chatterbox to Listening with Purpose
By Dawn Wilson –
As a young mom, I had two non-talkative, all-action sons; but my best girlfriend during those years had a little girl, an exuberant chatterbox! Little Misty talked nonstop. One day at the park, I watched as my girlfriend endured yet another one-sided conversation.
“Mama, look at that bird,” Misty said. “Who do you think taught the bird to sing? Where do you think it lives? Do you think the birdie has sister? I want a sister, Mama. We can call her Snoopy like that cartoon dog. Do you like that name, Mama? I’m hungry. Can we get some donuts? Can babies eat donuts?”
My girlfriend smiled at her daughter, wondering when to break in. A woman of wisdom, she knew that those years would pass quickly; so she stroked Misty’s hair and listened with purpose, using Misty’s words as a launching pad for a precious teachable moment.
Over the years as I watched Misty grow, I realized my girlfriend also modeled how to listen! Rather than becoming a self-centered chatterbox, Misty became a graceful conversationalist with sincere interest in others.
For far too long, my prayer life resembled Misty’s incessant chatter. It was all about my wants, my reasoning, my agenda. I didn’t consider that God might want to speak too. Early on, I wondered whether God “rolled His eyes” at my steady barrage of prayer lists and demands, but now I know my patient Father listened and turned many prayers into teachable moments. He applied scriptures that opened my eyes and ears.
The truth is, God wants to speak. “O that my people would listen to me,” He said (Psalm 81:13a, ESV). Listening to God is a deliberate choice. As we shut out the noisy world and quiet ourselves before God (Psalm 46:10), we can better focus on what He wants to say.
It’s hard to hear God when I’m rushing around, tending to my “to do list;” but God will speak. As thoughts come to my mind, I sometimes write them down, so I can “test” them later with scripture to be sure I’ve heard from God and not messages from the enemy or my own deceitful heart (1 John 4:1; Jeremiah 17:9).
As I wait with an expectant spirit, I yield to God and tell Him I’m prepared to obey. That is crucial to conversation with God. When there is something I’ve already determined I will not do, why should God tell me more? Listening to God is one thing; hearing Him is another. As I listen, God sometimes points out something I need to deal with through confession and repentance before I move on.
Jesus only said and did what the Father wanted—what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19-20)—and He is our example. We won’t get ahead of God or fall behind, losing opportunities, if we listen with purpose, seeking the Father’s will. We need to expect and wait for Him to speak.
To get into this frame of mind, I often pray Psalm 25:4: “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Are you a prayer “chatterbox,” always talking, never listening? God wants to speak. How can you listen with purpose today?