It has been said that we have two ears and one mouth, indicating that we should listen at least twice as much as we talk. It has also been said that when we are in the presence of someone more knowledgeable and intelligent than ourselves we should listen more than we speak. If we apply these principles to our relationship with God, prayer should consist mostly of listening.
Listening is so essential to the formation of a father that our Lord began and ended his public ministry with two miracles related to listening: At the wedding of Cana, the servants whom Jesus commanded to obtain the water to become wine were first commanded by His Mother, “Do whatever He tells you.” In other words “listen.” At the close of Jesus’ public ministry, in the Garden, Simon Peter cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear – but Jesus“touched his ear and healed him.”
The healing of Malchus’ ear was the last of Christ’s public miracles, indicating the importance of Christ’s desire to restore our ability to “listen to Him.” If we are to become great fathers we must learn to listen to the Father.
Traditional prayers, the Sacred Liturgy, reading the Sacred Scriptures are essential for a fruitful prayer life. We should listen to the words expressed in these prayers. But we should not stop there. The words that we hear are like a diving board which launches us into the waters of prayerful meditation – listening to God.
Moving from exterior forms of prayer to an interior silence before God is essential to becoming a great father, a great man. We may be tempted to flee from listening and fill our prayer time with words, however, if God is calling us to silent receptivity/active listening, such a response will deflect God’s Word from us; and rather than progressing spiritually, we will move backwards – losing peace.
How many times have you tried to teach your child a lesson – but he wasn’t listening? Doesn’t it drive you crazy? Why? Because you know that if he doesn’t listen he will continue to do the same foolish action that he did previously. If we hate it when our children don’t listen -how do you think God feels. The Father has the plan, the vision for our lives – but we need to unplug and listen. It’s imperative. This is no small spiritual item – it is essential for our growth as men. If we want our children to receive God’s wisdom from us we need to listen to God and give them what we have been given.
The Lord said, “Listen, to My voice and do all that I command you. So shall you be my people, and I will be your God.” (Jeremiah 11:4) Notice that to be God’s child, to have the Spirit of God’s Fatherhood, we must listen to His voice. To carry out the mission that God has for us we must listen. Listen then do. But this listening demands a time of silence – a period of waiting – even if we feel like nothing is happening – we must trust that God is planting His Word in us. This is faith.
The Sacred Scriptures tell us that “Joseph did as the angel commanded him.” It is precisely because Joseph entered the silence and listened to God that he was able to know the mission and plan that God had for him. Listening and Obedience are two sides of the same coin. If we desire to fulfill God’s plan for our lives and for our fatherhood as Joseph did, we must listen. If we want to “do” we must first “listen”.