Ecclesiastes 5:1-2 “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth; do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
As Solomon has observed, there are times and seasons for everything under the sun and prayer is no exception to this rule. There’s a time for you to pour out your heart before the Lord, and there is a time to be silent listening for His voice. The word for listen here is the word “Shāmaʿ,” which is found more than 1000 times in the Old Testament. This word means “to hear,” “to understand,” “to obey,” and “to listen to.” Solomon was saying to come to the house of God “ready to listen.”
Leading From the Heart
“Shāmaʿ” is also used when Solomon asked God to give him a wise and “discerning heart” early in his reign as king. “So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?” (1 Kings 3:9) Solomon was asking for a heart (“one which listens”) so he could rightly govern God’s people.
There are many today who do not believe that God speaks to people anymore. This is of course a self-limiting belief, based purely upon the personal experiences of those who have over intellectualized their faith. This idea is not supported by the Scriptures or validated by history.
One cannot read the bible for long without noticing that the voice of God or the “word of the Lord” was very real to the people in both Old and New Testaments. Having God communicate with people was not thought to be something strange; it was for them a normal part of their lives. In fact to communicate with the “gods” was a very real part of their culture.
God is a Communicator
God spoke to Adam and Eve in Paradise, He spoke to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses and so on. Eli told young Samuel what to say when God first spoke to the boy; “So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” (1 Samuel 3:8-9) The God who made the ear can still hear you when you pray, simple common sense and the plain reading of the Scriptures will reveal that the God who created the tongue can still speak to you when you are listening for His voice in prayer.
Solomon has simply stated that listening is the great secret to intimacy with God. Both the Scriptures and the historical record clearly show that the most productive people of the Kingdom have been those who enjoyed a deep fellowship with God, heard His voice and did whatever He told them to do. Noah received the blueprints for the Ark by hearing from God. David was given the blueprints to the Temple by hearing God as well. Paul evangelized cities and planted hundreds of churches by hearing from God.
Come to Listen
Imagine having a friend you never listened to when they spoke, you wouldn’t be friends for long if you did. Listening to the gentle promptings of the Holy Spirit is a priceless gift and a privilege. Cherishing what has been impressed upon your heart by the Holy Spirit is the beginning of an amazing journey with God in prayer. This requires a little active listening and a basic knowledge of the Scriptures to verify. The Spirit will never contradict the written Word He inspired. “Today, if you hear his voice,do not harden your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:15) Enter the blessing of having a hearing heart!
So I encourage you to follow in the way of Jesus and His Apostles. Jesus instructed His followers to have an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying to the Church. He also said that it was the wise builders who “heard” His words and put them into practice (Matthew 7:24). Whether you’re leading a company, a Church, or your family, you will lead better with God’s wisdom gained from a hearing heart.
Spend some time waiting patiently on God listening for His voice. Develop a hearing heart and experience the greater joy of two way communication, be filled with faith as you learn to hear God speaking directly to you, Come prepared to listen, Be ready to write, and Be Encouraged!-JSP