Selective Hearing

Wednesday, October 14, 2020
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Listen while you read: "Let The Lower Lights Be Burning"1 (Lyrics)

Part of my spiritual journey was working towards a B.A. degree in Religious Studies. During that period, our family moved and settled into a new church, which was an ideal fit. One particular morning, I asked God for clarity on what He wanted me to do with my growing understanding of Scripture.

Inside minutes, the church events director called with three requests. One, would I sing a solo at a luncheon? The second was to share a devotional for a ladies' gathering, and finally, to say grace at a congregational supper. My reaction was tentative: "I am apprehensive. I am not exactly prepared. Sorry!"

Soon afterward, a gentle voice whispered, "You asked, and I listened. I replied, but you did not hear."

Selective hearing seems to sneak into most marriages somewhere between the honeymoon and "Honey, would you unload the dishwasher?" With a sports enthusiast spouse, if emptying the dishwasher competes with "And the score is …" you know what will get heard and what will not.

If this habit creeps into our prayer life, it can debilitate our relationship with God. To ask our Master to hear and answer our requests for guidance in decision-making, then to selectively block out the responses that we do not want to hear, is sinful. God's Word is fundamental in shaping our walk as Christ's supporters. Obeying His every word is indispensable. "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27 NIV)

Clearly, selective hearing had not escaped me. I promptly got back to the director, enlightening her concerning my prayer, and inquiring whether I could change my "No" to an unassuming "Yes". It was a lesson that I will never forget. God knew that I was ready. I should have known that He does not embarrass His children.

Friends, how often have you prayed for clarity and heard only the words that you wanted to hear? God's plans for our lives go far beyond what we can imagine. The key is to listen and obey. Remember God's faithfulness with us and His promise:

Jeremiah 29:11-12 – "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (NIV)

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, please forgive us for all the times that we have turned a deaf ear when You have spoken. From today forward, may every word that You say be a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Amen.

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About the author:

Lois Macdonald <>
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the good word, Lois.

    Thank you for a good word today Lois.

    Thank you, Lois. That’s my life verse and you added dimension to it.

    Once again, thank you Lois for hearing the Lord’s voice and obeying. You’ve been a blessing to many. Blessings.

    Hi Lois
    I had a friend who used to say some people have “self-serving selective hearing”.
    Blessings to you.

    Dear Lois, thank you for your apt example of a husband and wife selectively listening. We do it without even thinking. I appreciate your effort and encouragement.

    Your message really resonates with me at this time in my life, Lois. Although I am very involved with church and feeling too busy at times, I often wonder if God wants me to be involved in a different way. I think I need to listen more closely. Thanks, and God bless!

    Dear Lois,
    Thank you for continuing to hear God’s request and writing devotionals to encourage us to listen when God responds to our prayers. It is not always easy to change, but when others share their stories it helps us to hear and obey. May you enjoy this lovely day that God has given us.

    Good morning Lois,
    Thank you for this devotional putting the emphasis on listening to the Lord’s direction’s in our lives. How often things would go better in our daily lives if we would refrain from “doing our own thing”, without first taking time to pray and reflect on the “nudges” we hear from our Saviour. The verse in Jeremiah chap.29 is certainly a great reassurance to heed.
    May you enjoy a very blessed day.

    How wonderful that you responded!
    I was a speaker for Christian Women’s Club and loved the ministry, but after some years of traveling North America, as I prepared for a talk I seemed to hear “This is your last engagement”.
    I felt very peaceful about this, although it had been an important part of my life.
    I didn’t take my name from the list, but no invitations came following that.
    After some months, I had a request and found myself smiling inwardly as I turned it down, knowing that season of my life was over!
    I trust you have been blessed by the times that you have shared your gifts of communication with others!

    Hi Lois,
    A lovely devotional on keeping our ears open and listening and obeying to everything the Lord tells us!

    I sure relate to his.
    How often an answer to prayer was not something I wanted to hear! When I accept the challenge though, I discovered ability I didn’t know I had.
    But God did.

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