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Listening to Yourself, Or to God?

TALKING too much to listen? We all do from time to time. It can be quite comical! But it's also possible to be listening too quickly--too superficially--to hear what's really being said. I can remember times when I've observed someone asking questions, and then not actually listening to the answers. Worse than that, I've been guilty of it myself!

It's bad enough to do this when we're talking to another person. But it can be much more serious in our relationship to God. We always need to know God better, to understand what He is and does. And one of the obvious ways to know God is to listen to Him. But if we are not wholeheartedly receptive to what He is communicating, we won't hear His answers.

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``Who hath ears to hear, let him hear,'' Christ Jesus urges in Matthew's Gospel. Warning that submergence in worldliness can keep us from hearing God's word, Jesus points out: ``This people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart'' (13:9, 15). Listening to God has always been more a matter of the heart than the ears.

The Bible teaches that God is infinite Spirit--always in every place. We cannot know Him with the eyes and ears--the material senses. Yet God's presence is real and it can be felt by us at all times. This feeling is not due to any human emotion but to the fact that God made us and made us responsive to Him, to His love, to Spirit and the things of the Spirit.

We hear God spiritually. It is not through the material senses but through spiritual sense that He makes Himself known to us. This is only logical because God is Spirit and we ourselves are His spiritual offspring.

Can we do anything about all the thoughts, fears, attitudes, and opinions that crowd out our listening to God? Yes! Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, speaks directly to this age-old challenge in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In the chapter ``Prayer'' she says: ``To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error'' (p. 15).

God knows all. He understands man--His own spiritual creation. It would be unthinkable for God, the Father and Mother of all, to be other than a loving Parent who knows all about what He creates.

And what God knows about His creation is that it is like Him. Our genuine spiritual identity partakes of the divine nature. We reflect goodness, purity, intelligence, love, from Him. This is what He is telling us. This is what we hear when we prayerfully listen to His voice.

God is the everlasting Father. So all that He does, including the sending forth of His ideas, embodies His own strength. This means that when we make the decision to listen to God for healing and direction, rather than listen solely to our own thought, nothing can stop us from hearing Him. We need to shut the door on material sense and work at this listening, but when we do, a pure heart and a desire to hear God will cause aggressive material thinking to fold up and wither away. Listening to God is real. We hear answers- -God-sent answers, surprising answers, inspiring and uplifting answers.

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