The Art of Listening

Aletha HinthornWhen reading scripture, it may be helpful to allow our imagination to help us see beyond what the words say. For instance, if we read about Mary Magdalene's washing Jesus' feet, we consider, "How would I be feeling if I were expressing my love to Jesus by washing His feet as she did? How can I experience that same passionate devotion?  

Madame Guyon suggests: "If you read quickly, it will benefit you little. You will be like a bee that merely skims the surface of a flower. Instead, in this new way of reading with prayer, you must become as the bee who penetrates into the depths of the flower. You plunge deeply within to remove its deepest nectar."  

Dallas Willard compares our carefully observing the Word with smelling the roses. "To enjoy the rose it is necessary to focus on it and bring the rose as fully before our senses and mind as possible. To smell a rose, you must get close and you must linger. When we do so, we delight in it. We love it."  

We read slowly as though we are seeking to sense the heart of what God is saying. We declare with the psalmist, "I will listen to what God the Lord will say" (Psalm 85:8). In his Preface to Sermons, John Wesley described his Bible reading: "Here then I am, far from the busy ways of men. I sit down alone: only God is here. In his presence I open, I read his Book; for this end, to find the way to Heaven." Remembering God is here and we are in His presence as we read is the secret to listening with all our hearts.

Dear Lord, the more I listen carefully to You in the Word, the more I love reading.

"Oh, how I love your law!" (Ps. 119:97).