Read: James 1:22 |
Prayer is when you talk to God; Meditation is when you listen to God.
– Diana Robinson
Back when the telegraph was the fastest means of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator. When he arrived, he entered a large, noisy office. In the background, a telegraph clacked away.
A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned. The young man completed his form and sat down with seven other applicants in the waiting room. After a few minutes, the young man stood up and walked into the manager’s office.
Naturally, the other applicants wondered what was going on. Within a few minutes the young man emerged from the office and the manager announced, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has been filled by this young man.”
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and exclaimed,” That’s not fair. We were here first!”
The manager responded, “All the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ Though you heard the message, you did not listen to it, understand it and act on it. This young man did. So the job is his.” [The Telegraph – Sermon Illustrations]
In James 1:19-27, James specifically tells his audience to “take note” and hear the Word, listen to the Word and do what the Word says and then repeat the process.
Hear the Word
If we cannot hear God, it is not because He is not talking to us. If we love God, we should be able to hear him and desire to keep His commandments (John 14:15). To hear, we need to be in the “posture of hearing”. The “posture of hearing” requires us to clear our senses – head, ears, eyes and hearts from all distractions. Otherwise, we will be like the job applicants in the illustration and God’s words simply become background noise. Assume “thine” hearing posture and through Bible Study and prayer, develop spiritual antennae that attune to God’s still quiet voice while tuning out Satan’s distractions.
Listen to the Word
James suggests in verses 19 that we become quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. To achieve this proportion of listening-speaking-anger, we must learn to submit our will to His. As we learn to listen, we gain:[An Exercise in Listening Prayer]
- Clarity (Psalm 73:17)
- A Deeper relationship with God (Psalm 32:8-9)
- Direction (Isaiah 30:21)
- Assurance (Luke 1:45; 2:19)
- A call to repentance (Hebrews 4:7)
- Empowerment (Jeremiah 42:1-7)
Do what the Word says
James notes in verse 22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” This chorus is repeated just before Jesus’ first miracle of turning water to wine, when Mary instructs them in John 2:5 to “Do whatever he tells you”. The Bible reveals the Father’s overall plan for the world, the plan of salvation and principles for living. Listening should lead us to do “Do whatever he tells you.”
Repetition of Hearing-Listening-Doing causes growth
As we hear, listen and do what the Word of God says, we grow. Our spiritual hearing improves and causes us to hear and see God more clearly. Our ability to listen improves as we put aside our behavior and replace it with godly living. Our actions begin to reflect our faith as we apply His words to our daily living.
The Word of God telegraphs to us our instructions for living. As we sit in this waiting room called earth, we are to hear, listen and act on the message like the young man did. As we follow the advice of the message God sends to us, our lives will produce the righteousness that God desires.
Listening to God – Charles Stanley
Try the Listening Exercise – copied and modified from – “An Exercise in Listening Prayer” by Lisa Lamb
A. Ask, “Lord, is there anything you would like to say to me?”
B. Ask, “Jesus, how are you praying for me right now?”
C. Select a short passage of scripture (more than a verse but less than a chapter) and read it slowly.
D. Read your passage again, and this time, select a word, phrase or verse that you like. What do you like about it? What does it reveal about God?
A. Does listening to God come easy for you?
B. What parts of God’s Word are hard to listen to and why?
A. What parts of your life show that you are “Doing what He says” and what parts are not?
B. What proportions of listening, speaking and anger are in your life compared to the James 1:19 quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger?
C. What adjustments are you making?