“If you would have God hear you when you pray, you must hear him when he speaks.” —Thomas Brooks

It is that frenzied time we know as “Shopping Period” here at Harvard. Students shop around for classes before submitting a study card for formal enrollment in a course. As I sat in one a tutorial, I was a little scared of the fact that 60% of the grade was based on participation.  I guess it makes sense- they are in fact training us to communicate; to be leaders that voice are opinions. We are trained to speak up and rewarded when we do so. However, in a quest to find our own voice, often forget how to listen.

Unfortunately, not only do we fail to listen to people, we fail to listen to God. I was convicted today, realizing that most of my prayers consist of a laundry list of things asking for something for myself, something for other people, with some “thank you” sprinkled in. Now of course all those prayers are important, but it occurred to me that the majority of my prayers are me speaking, and hardly, if any, of that time is actually spent listening. I had to ask myself: Am I praying because I want to hear God; or am I praying because I just want God to hear me?

It has always frustrated me a little that teachers tend to gauge how much you learn based on how much you speak rather than how much you listen. God doesn’t work that way though. Yes, God wants us to speak, but He cannot bless us until we learn how to listen. Moses got a burning bush, but all Elijah got was a whisper. Elijah didn’t hear God in the winds, earthquake or fire; but in a gentle whisper. We must learn to close our mouths and open our ears. Be still and listen for His voice.

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 1 Kings 19:11-13