Hearken and listen

It has been said that listening - really listening - is a lost art.

If this is true, it is sad. The ability to hear something with thoughtful attention is so important in our relationships in life, whether it be in our families, in our work and Church associations, and, especially, with our Heavenly Father.Listening is vital to our family happiness and solidarity. A lot of communication problems between husbands and wives, parents and children, and brothers and sisters could be eliminated if we would just stop and listen, rather than being so concerned about getting our own points of view across.

Speaking and listening are the bookends of communication, but of the two, we should never get so wrapped up in the first that we neglect the second.

We lose so much in our family relationships if we choose not to listen. And, converserly, we gain so much if we take the time and give the attention to really listen to each other. Surely, not all the problems in a family will be solved by just listening, but it certainly goes a long way in showing that we care.

Listening is essential in our leadership responsibilities, as well. A good leader listens. "Jesus was a listening leader," President Spencer W. Kimball once said. "Because He loved others with a perfect love, He listened without being condescending." (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 481.) Should we do anything less than follow the example of the Savior in being a listening leader?

But we should also be a listening follower. As counsel and direction come from our leaders - "whether by my mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same" (D&C 1:38) - our ears should not be "dull of hearing." (See Moses 6:27.) If our ears are in this sad condition, we will gain nothing from the counsel given.

Listening to the voice of the Lord through His prophet and our other leaders is essential to our salvation. When it comes to our relationship with things of the Spirit, we need to follow the advice of King Benjamin: ". . . open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view." (Mosiah 2:9.)

The words listen and hearken are used frequently in the scriptures, particularly in the Doctrine and Covenants, to define what we should be doing to receive counsel and direction from the Lord. Our course is charted:

"Hearken unto the voice of the Lord your God, while I speak unto you . . . ." (D&C 25:1.)

"Listen to the voice of Jesus Christ, your Redeemer. . . ." (D&C 29:1.)

"Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him -" (D&C 45:3.)

"Hearken, and listen to the voice of the Lord. . . ." (D&C 72:1.)

And then we must give heed to that voice.

"Behold, I am God; give heed unto my word, which is quick and powerful. . . . (D&C 6:2.)

A month before the restored Church was organized in 1830, Joseph Smith received a revelation, now known as Section 19 of the Doctrine and Covenants. In it, the Prophet was told:

"Learn of me, and listen to my words; walk in the meekness of my Spirit, and you shall have peace in me." (D&C 19:23.)

What a beautiful formula for peace in this day and age when, in a large measure, it has been removed from the earth. What a beautiful formula for drawing close to the Savior as we learn of Him and listen to His words.

We can learn much from the experience of Elijah when it comes to listening to the Lord:

". . . And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake.

"And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice." (I Kings 19:11-12.)

If the word of the Lord comes in a still small voice, how can we hear it if we are not intently listening?

Such is often the case as we receive guidance and inspiration through our personal prayers. "Do you take time to listen to the promptings of the Spirit?" President Ezra Taft Benson asked in his general conference address in October 1977. "Answers to prayer come most often by a still voice and are discerned by our deepest, innermost feelings. I tell you that you can know the will of God concerning yourselves if you will take the time to pray and to listen."

Yes, take the time to listen!

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed