Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.Colossians 4:2 (NLT)
I went to a training seminar once when I was working my way up the career ladder. The seminar was supposed to teach us how to be a good boss. To be honest, it was kinda a rip-off. However, I do remember one of the activities was interesting. It had us focus on active listening. Let me break that down for you.
Active listening is actually being a part of a conversation with someone even though you aren’t the one doing the talking. As an example, an active listener makes eye contact during the conversation, ask questions for clarification, nod their head when they grasp what’s being said. They give a confused look when they don’t get it. All of these are cues to the person talking that what they are saying is not only making sense, but that you’re actually paying attention.
The opposite, of course, is passive listening. We are experts in passive listening. Passive listening is playing on your phone while someone else is talking, saying “huh?” a lot because you weren’t paying close enough attention to hear them the first time, and that your attention is elsewhere. The person doing the talking is not the priority.
I believe we have an epidemic of passive listeners when it comes to our prayer life. We create so much busyness in our lives that we throw some prayer requests at God, but don’t hit the pause button on life to let Him now talk to us. We’re too busy doing other stuff, or our mind is clouded with all of the things we need to accomplish, or all of the worries for the day.
But, notice our verse today says, “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind.” In other words, we need to be active listeners. Our mind must be alert, actively focused on the One who will be speaking. We need to have a time when we drop everything in life and just spend time listening to, and for, God’s voice.
Of course, many will say that they’ve tried that and didn’t hear anything. To that I say, did you fail the first time you played that video game? Yes. But, you kept working at it so that you understood how to play at a higher level. So it is with active listening. You may not hear His voice the first few times because you aren’t at that level of listening yet. You must keep at it. Your mind will tune in, your worries will tune out, and you will understand the sweetness of His words in your ears (or mind, as is normally the case).
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