We have gathered several of the better daily devotionals on this page to aid your Quiet Time with the Lord. We also recommend:
- Our Daily Bread - excellent illustrations and practical applications
- Puritan's Valley of Vision - pithy and poignant!
- Global Prayer Digest for the world's unreached people groups
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Are you a good listener? Listen to what Pr 18:13 says about listening. Here are 3 translations:
- The one who gives an answer before he listens– that is his folly and his shame. -- NET
- If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame. -- ESV
- What a shame, what folly, to give advice before listening to the facts! - NLT
A few thoughts on Proverbs 18:13 and the lost art of listening -
- As Howard Hendricks says, “Marriage is sometimes the dialogue of the deaf.”
- The Harvard Business Review says 65 percent of an executive’s time should be spent listening.
- So much more so in our most intimate relationships.
- When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking—I’m not listening.
- “He who answers before listening—that is his folly and his shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
A wise old owl sat in an oak,
The more he heard, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard;
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?
ILLUSTRATION: To illustrate the high cost of poor listening, Diana Bonet, listening consultant and author of The Business of Listening, offers this example: A $100,000 error was caused by a dispatcher who routed a fleet of drivers to deliver building materials to the wrong state. The dispatcher heard the city (Portland), but quit listening before he heard the state (Maine). The result: eight trucks, 3,000 miles away in Portland, Oregon.
I cried, and from His holy hill
He bowed a listening ear;
I called my Father, and my God,
And He subdued my fear.
Proverbs 18:13 A Way Of Loving
In her book Listening To Others (Hearing their Hearts), Joyce Huggett relates her experiences of listening so that we can respond with wisdom those who are suffering or in difficult situations. She says they often raved about all she had done for them. "On many occasions," she writes, "I had not 'done' anything. I had 'just listened.' I quickly came to the conclusion that 'just listening' was indeed an effective way of helping others."
This was the help that Job's wordy, preachy friends failed to give him. While it is true that they sat with him for 7 days in silence, “for they saw that his grief was very great” (Job 2:13), they didn’t listen when Job started talking. He complained that they were "miserable comforters" (Job 16:2) and was so distraught that he even accused God of not listening. He cried out, "Oh, that I had one to hear me!" (Job 31:35).
Listening says, “What matters to you matters to me.” Sometimes people do want advice. But often they just want to be listened to by someone who loves and cares about them.
What does active listening accomplish?
- Listening is a way of loving others.
- It says, "I want to understand and know you."
- It comforts the brokenhearted, builds relationships, and encourages faith in God.
- Listening is also a means of learning the facts.
- Solomon, in Proverbs 18:13, warned that it is folly to answer a matter before hearing it.
- Most of all, listening to others should reflect our attentiveness toward God and His Word. God has so much He wants to teach us and tell us.
Listening is hard work, and it takes time. It takes time to listen long enough to hear the other person’s true heart, so that if we do speak, we speak with gentle wisdom. Oh, Lord, give us a loving heart and a listening ear. Amen
As you take a moment of stillness today and give Him a listening ear, you'll be better able to listen to the hurting people around you.
A caring heart, a listening ear,
A thoughtful word, a loving tear
Will help to lift the heavy load
Of hurting people on life's road.
You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth.
Eloquent silence often is better than eloquent speech
Learning to Listen - Renè Descarte, the sixteenth-century philosopher, said, “I think, therefore I am.” Sarah, our granddaughter, says, “You are, therefore I talk.” Silence has never been golden to Sarah. Some years ago I was sitting in our family room trying to read a Time magazine while, at the same time, Sarah was trying to carry on a conversation with me. To my shame I was paying little attention, responding to her comments with an occasional grunt. Finally in exasperation she crawled into my lap and got in my face. “Papa,” she shouted, “are you listening to me?” “Sarah,” I confessed, putting down my magazine, “I haven’t been listening well. Forgive me. I’ll listen to you now.” My commitment to Sarah is one that I want to keep on other occasions as well. It’s one of the gifts “of what remains” that I can give to others—to talk less and listen better. As Frasier Crane would say, “I’m listening”—or, to be more honest, I’m trying to learn how to listen. I want to listen well so that when I finish a conversation, others will walk away knowing there’s at least one person in this care-less world who has some inkling of what they’re doing, thinking, and feeling. I want to hear the hushed undertones of their hearts. I want them to know that I care. Listening, however, doesn’t come easy for me. For years I was paid to talk; I was a “word monger” to borrow Augustine’s apt description of a teacher. It comes as a revelation to me that I can do more with my ears now than I can with my mouth. In her book Listening to Others, Joyce Huggett relates her experiences of listening to suffering people. She says they often talk about all she’s done for them. “On many occasions,” she writes, “I have not ‘done’ anything. I have ‘just listened.’ I quickly came to the conclusion that ‘just listening’ was indeed an effective way of helping others.” This was the help Job’s wordy, would-be friends failed to give him. They were “miserable comforters,” he complained. “‘Oh, that I had someone to hear me!’” Job is not alone in his longing. All human beings want to be heard, and listening is one of the best ways in the world to love others. Listening says, “You matter to me.” (Job 16:2; 31:35)
Kenneth Grahame’s Badger in The Wind in the Willows knew how to do it.
He sat in his arm-chair at the head of the table, and nodded gravely at intervals as the animals told their story; and he did not seem surprised or shocked at anything, and he never said, “I told you so,” or, “Just what I always said,” or remarked that they ought to have done so-and-so, or ought not to have done something else. The Mole began to feel very friendly towards him.
Listening is a lost art these days. We don’t listen well and we aren’t used to being listened to. Most of our words simply disappear into the air. I have a friend who, when he goes to noisy parties and people ask how he’s doing, on occasion has replied quietly, “My business went belly-up this week, the bank foreclosed on my house, my wife left me, and I have terminal cancer.” “Wonderful!” one man murmured, as he pumped my friend’s hand and moved on. I keep wondering if I’ve done something similar to others.
Some years ago I came across the following advice about listening—which I’m still in the process of learning and applying:
• When I’m thinking about an answer while others are talking—I’m not listening.
• When I give unsolicited advice—I’m not listening. (Unsolicited advice always sounds like criticism.)
• When I suggest they shouldn’t feel the way they do—I’m not listening.
• When I apply a quick fix to their problem—I’m not listening.
• When I fail to acknowledge their feelings—I’m not listening.
• When I fidget, glance at my watch, and appear to be rushed—I’m not listening.
• When I fail to maintain eye contact—I’m not listening.
• When I don’t ask follow-up questions—I’m not listening.
• When I top their story with a bigger, better story of my own—I’m not listening.
• When they share a difficult experience and I counter with one of my own—I’m not listening.
Listening is hard work, and most of us are unwilling to put in the time—and time is the operative word. Listening means setting aside our own timetable and tendency to hurry on to our next destination. It means settling into a relaxed, unhurried, leisurely pace. “Only in the ambiance of leisure,” Eugene Peterson writes, “do persons know they are listened to with absolute seriousness, treated with dignity and importance.” In leisure we regard others’ interests as more important than ours (Php 2:3). In leisure we say, “You are more significant than anything I have to do right now. You are the only one who counts, the one for whom I am willing to forgo my other obligations, appointments, and meetings. I have time for you.” In leisure, we listen long enough to hear the other person’s true heart so that if we do speak, we speak with wisdom. A leisurely pace, a listening ear, a loving heart. May you and I, by God’s grace, acquire them. (From David Roper's book Teach Us to Number Our Days)
Pastor Ray Pritchard's advice on Listening - Psychologists talk about “active listening.” That means listening all the way through to the end of a statement. Which is not what most of us do. The reason we don’t hear what the other person is saying is because we are too busy thinking about what we are going to say back to them. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening–that is his folly and shame.” Active listening means you focus on the other person, you listen to the whole statement, you let the meaning of it sink in, then you restate it in your own words.
Here are some tips for active listening:
- Lean toward the person while they are talking to you.
- Look directly at them (instead of letting your eyes wander) while they are speaking.
- Listen with your eyes and ears. Look for non-verbal cues like crossed arms and legs, looking into space, clinched fists, fingers drumming on the table, wide gestures, the forced grin. Those cues usually indicate some level of stress.
- Don’t interrupt. Period. Just don’t do it. Don’t finish someone else’s sentences either.
- Ask clarifying questions. “Could you repeat that? How long have you been feeling that way? What else about that really bothers you? How often do you feel frustrated about the way I act?"
- Don’t plan your response while you are listening to them talk.
- When they are finished, say something like, “Let me see if I can put that in my own words.”
You’ll know you’ve been a successful listener when you can put their thoughts in your words to their satisfaction. After all, the bottom line on listening is not that you think you heard, but that they think you heard.
By the way, did you know that listening is good for your health? Dr. James J. Lynch, a researcher at the University of Maryland, says that “while we speak with words, we also speak with every fiber of our being.” He discovered that blood pressure and heart rate rise rapidly whenever people talk. It also falls rapidly when people listen. For people with a history of hypertension, talking often raises the blood pressure into the danger zone. It happens, he says, because they tend to talk intensely and breathlessly, interrupting and speaking over other people. “They frequently fail to listen; they are on guard, defensive. So their pressure stays up.” Here is his conclusion:
How can we enjoy conversation yet keep blood pressure down? By listening more, by breathing regularly while talking, by alternating between talking and paying attention to what the other person is saying. (Readers Digest, 4/86, p. 124)
A tribute was once paid to a great linguist that he could be silent in seven languages. It’s a wonderful and rare gift. More of us need to use it. Communication begins with listening more.
Read that third line again and ponder how the various actions and attitudes are interrelated. If a blind saint can have this Godward "eyesight", how much more should those of us who can see the majestic mountains, the glorious sunsets, the countless stars, etc?
These devotionals are provided to encourage your daily devotional time reading the "pure milk of the Word" (1 Peter 2:2+) and are not meant to replace your personal time reading God's "Word of Life" (Philippians 2:16+) and "Word of Truth, the Gospel." (Colossians 1:5+) Our prayer is that you might daily...
Let the word of Christ richly dwell+ within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16+)
For the devotionals below the default is today's date, but you can change the date if you like: