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Practicing Listening Individually

Listening to God

Most of us aren’t naturally good at listening for God’s voice. These practices can help!

  • Tech sabbath: Intentionally disconnecting from technology makes space in our busy lives for listening to God. Many people have found it helpful to disconnect for one hour each day, for one day each week, and for one week each year. Try incorporating these rhythms into your life (and into your family’s life if you have kids).
  • Listening prayer: Read the article Listening Prayer Helps You Hear God More Clearly by Jim Harrison on and practice listening prayer for a week or more. What changes do you notice in your connection to God?
  • Lectio divina: This ancient practice is used by people of many different Christian traditions (including Reformed folk!) to listen to God intently through reading Scripture. If you’re not familiar with this practice, the article Lectio Divina: An Ancient Contemplative Spiritual Practice on is an excellent place to start.
  • Spiritual direction: Spiritual directors are trained in the art of listening, and their goal is to help people listen to God’s voice. Meeting with a spiritual director regularly is an excellent way to do a “faith check-up” and receive encouragement in your journey with God. Finding a spiritual director often happens by word of mouth, or you can consult lists like this one from the Evangelical Spiritual Directors Association.

Listening to Each Other

Listening well, especially to someone you don’t understand, is challenging for most of us. But good news: it’s a skill that improves with practice!

  • Read and ponder this quote from Henri J.M. Nouwen in Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith: “To listen is very hard, because it asks of us so much interior stability that we no longer need to prove ourselves by speeches, arguments, statements, or declarations. True listeners no longer have an inner need to make their presence known. They are free to receive, to welcome, to accept. . . . The beauty of listening is that those who are listened to start feeling accepted, start taking their words more seriously, and discovering their own true selves. Listening is a form of spiritual hospitality by which you invite strangers to become friends, to get to know their inner selves more fully, and even to dare to be silent with you.”
  • List all the people in your life who need you to lend them a listening ear. This list might especially include people with whom you disagree or with whom you have a difficult relationship. Pray through that list, asking the Spirit to help you listen deeply and well when you encounter those people.
  • Work on your active listening skills:
Listening skills: Pay attention. Withhold Judgement. Reflect. Clarify. Summarize. Share