Every time we meet with God, we have an opportunity to hear and to heed Him.

God is a God who loves to speak with us. Samuel learnt to hear God from an early age (1 Sam 3:1-14). One of the names of Jesus is ‘the Word’ (John 1:1-3) and the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that God speaks in many different ways but primarily now through Jesus. (Heb 1:1-3) The problem very often isn’t with God speaking, but with our hearing.

So often, we are so busy that we fail to listen properly. Our lives are cluttered with so many things that we do not hear God speaking. Listening to God requires a slowing down, a deliberate intention to listen to God’s voice and a training of our ears. Just as a mother is alert to the sounds which signify a baby rousing from sleep, so we need to be alert, listening for the gentle whisper of God’s Spirit.

Hearing is not enough of itself, however. We need also to heed God. To heed is to pay attention, to give consideration to. It’s not enough to let God’s words wash over us. We have to ‘pay the most careful attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.’ (Heb 2:1) Ps 107:43 says, ‘Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.’ Wisdom comes through heeding instruction (Prov 13:1); whoever heeds correction is honoured. (Prov 13:18). If we want to prosper, have understanding and be wise, then we have to learn to heed as well as to hear (see also Prov 15:5, Prov 15:31, Prov 16:20, Provb 28:4).

Hearing and heeding go together and lead to the next crucial stage: obedience  (see 1 Sam 15:22). As we hear God speak, heed His words through meditation and contemplation, we can move on to action. God speaks so that by obedience our lives can be realigned with Him and we can become wise. Take note!