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Hearing/Listening

“The difference between obligation and obedience is more than mere semantics. An obligation is imposed on us, but obedience, as the Church uses and understands that term, is self-chosen…The Greek word for “obedience” is hypakoe. It comes from the root word akouo (“to hear”). The relationship between hearing and obedience is clear in the Scriptures: one obeys when one hears the word of God and does it.” (Dr. Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou)


“While knowing that the people you are talking to actually hear you is very affirming, there still is a difference between listening to someone and putting into practice what they say…you can hear God’s voice but then harden your heart against doing what God is asking of you. It is not enough simply to hear God, for one’s heart needs to be as receptive to God’s message as one’s ears. Hearing God means allowing God’s word to enter not just the ear canal, but into one’s heart.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)


“Neither I nor any other preacher can see into your hearts…but God is looking, for nothing can be hidden from Him….Do not deceive yourselves by coming eagerly to hear the Word and then failing to do it. If it is a good thing to hear, it is a much better thing to do. If you do not hear, you cannot do, and therefore you will build nothing. But if you hear and do not do, then what you are building will be a ruin.” (St. Augustine)


“The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives always takes place on two levels, both on the level of what is outside us or what comes to us, and on the level of what is within us or how we receive what comes to us. Isn’t this also what Jesus taught in the Gospels? Jesus spoke the very words of life, yet He told his hearers, “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18) and “with the same measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Mark 4:24). The fact that Jesus spoke the very words of life did not alter the fact that how one heard those words changed dramatically the effect those words had in their life….Jesus’ disciples decided not just to hear His words, but also to act on them, to internalize them. And this changed everything.” (Fr. Michael Gillis, Archpriest Steven John Belonick)


“To hear God, one has to quiet the roar of stimuli which fill our hearts and minds. We quiet the external voices so that we can then quiet the internal voices in our minds. Only then can we ever hear God. If we don’t practice such silence, we will never be able to discern God’s voice in the cacophony which is our daily experience of life (especially if we are attuned to the media and political commentators). Only in the peaceful, calming internal silence can we begin to discern God’s voice. God is not shouting above all the noise, but speaks quietly to us as God did to Elijah (1 Kings 19:19-13)…Hearing with obeying is not enough...for then we have to be willing to do God’s will, to obey God’s command so that we can become part of edifice which God is building – the Church. [And we might keep in mind Numbers 22 in which God’s voice is heard through a most unexpected source].” (Fr. Ted Bobosh, Life Application Study Bible, Luke 8:21)


“Reading Scripture is an essential way that we allow God to speak to us. We hear His voice in sermons in church. We may hear His voice coming through the encouragement of others. However, the Bible is a way that we can hear His voice at any time, and hear it most completely. A sermon is on a specific passage of Scripture and is heard in church. And a word of encouragement requires another person’s input. The Bible is something we can pick up at any time and at any place to hear God’s voice.” (Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis)


“What “counts us worthy” of hearing the Gospel? It is fear, love, and a heart open to the Spirit. The Scriptures can only be rightly understood by the same Spirit that inspired them. Those who do not listen to them in that Spirit will not comprehend them. The Lord said in the Gospel of Mark, “The mystery of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those on the outside, everything is in parables, so that they may be ever hearing but never understanding…” (Mark 4:11-12). Accordingly, to be made “worthy” to hear the Holy Gospel is given by the grace of the Spirit of God.” (Fr. Basil)


“The Apostle Paul suggests three tests to determine when the Spirit is leading us. First, we take note of the apostle’s declaration that “you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear” (vs. 15). When we experience coercion or compulsion before a decision or action, we should regard it as a sign of the need for caution. Such promptings are not of the Holy Spirit. Feelings of duress and pressure are indeed signs of other spirits (1 Jn 4:1). We may experience the pressure of our passions (Ps 37:7); spiritual immaturity and confusion (Heb 5:11-14); or sin and darkening of our heart (Rom 1:21). To distinguish between our own feelings and thoughts and the guidance of the Spirit requires regular prayer, long practice in discernment, and the counsel of a spiritual advisor and wise pastor. The Scriptures help us to prepare our hearts to hear the Spirit. But we must remember that He cannot lead if we simply rush to the Bible, grasping for a verse, or thumb through the writings of the Fathers in search of a word we want to hear.” (Dynamis 7/24/2021)


“One bit of wisdom about reading the Bible is that if you only read the passages you like or agree with, then you are not really hearing God in the Scriptures but rather are really only listening to yourself. You are not trying to discover God’s will but want to find confirmation that God agrees with you. Instead of humbly listening to God in order to be His servant, you want God to conform His will to yours and thus serve you. The spiritually deaf can only hear their own thoughts and voice, and they delude themselves into thinking the voice they hear is their god’s.” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)


“For many, the “mythical radiance” has been lost. What has taken place is the privileging of a secular account of reality. It is felt that we must win on the ground defined by secular materialism. The result is a modernized faith, even if the “facts” embraced are antique. My argument is like that of Tolkien and Lewis. God is mythopoetic. To understand Him requires that we learn the language in which He speaks and hear even the silence into which the Eternal Word is spoken.” (Father Stephen Freeman)


“That God’s Word can enter through the ear and become incarnate in us is reflected in the Church’s reliance on the orally proclaimed word (the Epistle and Gospel read at any service): Let us listen to the Gospel. Not read, but listen! There is power in listening, hearing. We proclaim the glad tidings with great power so that we hear what God is saying – we allow the proclaimed Word to enter our ear so we can become doers of the Gospel. But he who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer that forgets but a doer that acts, he shall be blessed in his doing (James 1:25).” (Fr. Ted Bobosh)


“Routine helps us to make life easier, but at the same time can be a very real danger. Statistics show that new drivers have relatively few accidents because they concentrate so hard and obey all the rules. It is when driving becomes routine and the rules are no longer religiously followed that accidents happen. This is also true in our spiritual lives as well. Even things as basic as the Ten Commandments seem so obvious and routine that we cease to give them our full attention. Slowly, without even noticing, we come to the point where we neglect them entirely. God continues to speak to us but we have long since stopped hearing. It is not that God does not speak to us in the modern age, but that because of inattentiveness, we have stopped listening…Let us, therefore, set aside a quiet time each day in which we listen attentively to the quiet inner voice within. Perhaps then when God speaks, the people of our day will also hear.” (Rev. Andrew Demotses)


“Hearing – one of the five senses – may be considered a natural human attribute, so we must consider carefully what kind of listening the Lord Jesus requires. Holy Scripture consistently speaks of hearing as more than audition; it also implies obedient action. One who hears God necessarily obeys what he hears (Lk 8:15). Jesus’ oft-repeated remark, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mt 11:15; 13:43), is another way of stating this requirement. Our behavior must flow out of what we hear in our heart.” (Dynamis 4/29/2020)


“Man is a creature who depends entirely on revelation. In all his intellectual endeavor, he should always listen, always be intent to hear and see. He should not strive to superimpose the structures of his own mind, his systems of thought upon reality…”When I am constantly running there is no time for being. When there is no time for being there is no time for listening…“Listen to the silence. Stay open to the voice of the Spirit.” (Friedrich Dessauer, Madeleine L'Engle)


“…your attention span is directly related to your ability to grow in other-directed emotional intelligence. If your attention is scattered by incoming stimuli, you will find it hard to empathize and to be fully present with those you love. Ultimately, lack of attention makes it hard to offer others the type of self-giving that lies at the heart of Christlike love. As Elder Thaddeus observed, If we listen to our neighbor with only half our attention, of course we will not be able to answer them or comfort them…We are distracted. They talk, but we do not participate in the conversation; we are immersed in our own thoughts. But if we give them our full attention, then we take up both our own burden and theirs.” (Robin Phillips)


“If you want to feel closer to Christ, turn off some of the noise. Put down the phone, get off email, stay away from the mall, and get on your knees and pray, read the scriptures, and listen for the small, still voice of God.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)


“Before I can listen to God in prayer, I must fumble through the prayers of words, of willful demands, the prayers of childish “Gimmes,” of “Help mes,” of “I want…” Until I tell God what I want, I have no way of knowing whether or not I truly want it. Unless I ask God for something, I do not know whether or not it is something for which I ought to ask, and I cannot add, “But if this is not your will for me, then your will is what I want, not mine.” The prayers of words cannot be eliminated. And I must pray them daily, whether I feel like praying or not. Otherwise, when God has something to say to me, I will not know how to listen. Until I have worked through self, I will not be enabled to get out of the way.” (Madeleine L'Engle)


Many desperate souls who are seeking guidance make the mistake that God communicates to the mind…He communicates with man’s spirit (see John 4:24). Until a believer understands how God speaks to us, and learns to listen with spiritual ears through the inner man, he is likely to experience much false guidance. It takes a disciplined effort to hear from the Lord, to find time away from distractions. This is how we get into the presence of the Lord.” (Frank Hammond)


“It is not likely that we can cultivate the art of listening apart from silence. One danger is that we tend to become restless and make the silence brief. It is important to recognize that “a moment of silence” is almost worthless. Long experience indicates that an hour is required for the emergence of the best, which this method makes possible." (Elton Trueblood)


“God calls, but few listen. Maybe one reason why few listen is because they have not been attuned to His voice and will from a young age.” (Father Luke A. Veronis)


“In Luke 8:16-21, Jesus is preaching to a large crowd in the synagogue and His mother and brothers were trying to get in to see Him but could not because of the amount of people. He told the crowd both to “take heed how you hear (vs. 18) and that His mothers and brothers are those who hear the word of God and keep it (vs. 21). It was not Christ's will to deny His mother and brothers. Rather, Jesus is correcting both them and His hearers “to the right idea concerning Himself,” that the family of His Kingdom “is not by nature but by virtue.” We acquire this virtue in large part by what we choose to hear, that is what we seek to listen to most in the first place (because life is full of noise and distractions), and then how we choose to hear it. (Sacramental Living Ministries, Orthodox Study Bible, Luke 8:19-21)

“To hear the voice of God accurately, one must discern the Lord’s presence, recognize His hand in events, and thus receive great blessings…If the grace of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn from the hearer's mind, the sense is immediately dried up.” (Dynamis 6/24/2019, St. Gregory the Great)

“…the senses are the doors and windows through which either life or death enters the nous and, in turn, the heart. Life, he explains, enters when our senses are well governed, whereas death enters when we partake of sinful passions that harm the soul. Whatever enters man’s heart comes in first through the senses and then enters the nous [the deepest part of ourselves]. Impure music, for example, has the ability, after entering the nous, to go down into the heart, at which point it is easy for a man to sin in his heart (Matt. 5: 28). If the sinful image seen by the eyes or the sinful sound heard by the ears remains in the nous, it clouds it, making it ill, and the disease—if left untreated—spreads and infects the heart. For this reason, the Fathers have taught us above all to guard and cleanse the nous. Christ said, “First remove the plank from your own eye” (Matt. 7: 5)—in other words, purify your nous.” (St. Nikodemus, Constantina R. Palmer)

“…contemporary man lives in an environment full of many unclean sights and sounds, and quite likely he has grown accustomed to the passive state in which he allows all manner of impurity to enter through his senses.” (Constantina R. Palmer)

“Let listening to worldly news be bitter food for you, and let the words of saintly men be as combs filled with honey.” (St. Basil the Great)

“Again and again, we encounter this phrase in Jeremiah: “The word of the Lord came” (Jer 1:1)…The word of the Lord comes to everyone – yes, even to you and me. Many of us will not hear it, however, and with the passage of time many cannot hear. Jeremiah’s experience raises the question of whether the word of the Lord is a constant in our lives. When was the last time we heard the Lord? Even if we can say, “The word of the Lord came to me,” let us ask ourselves whether His word holds the same the certainty for us that it does for Jeremiah.” (Dynamis 5/27/2019)

“What most often gets in the way of the Lord’s word? It is our self-will…Self-will diminishes our ability to hear… “I will go now.” “I will tell her what I think.” “I will not pray this morning.” Suppose the matter were the other way around? What if the Lord said, “Go later,” or “Tell her what I, the Lord, think.” Suppose the word of the Lord came with the message, “Pray this morning.” Self-will rules our lives quietly, slipping in unnoticed. We do not like being told what to do! We may never say out loud, “I do not like God telling me what to do,” but in fact we often tune Him out.” (Dynamis 5/27/2019)

“God reveals His will to those who are sensitive to His leading…Most often, God does not speak to us out of the blue. He speaks to us when we are listening. The Holy Spirit gave distinct direction to the listening, sensitive believers of the first century, and He leads believers in the same way today.” (Foundation Study Bible, Acts 13:2-4)

‘Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word’ (John 8:43. Not being able to hear Jesus’ word, the word of the Word Himself, has nothing to do with our physical ears but rather our proud hearts. In John 12:28-29 when the voice of the Father came from Heaven the Disciples heard it clearly. Some heard it as an angel speaking and some heard it just as thunder. They all heard with their ears but only the Disciples could truly hear with the ears of their humble hearts and had discernment.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Christ warned his listeners—and us—to “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18, emphasis author’s). In that phrase, the Lord revealed that how we hear the truth reveals the real state of our souls and whether or not we have integrity, courage, or humility.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“In a world of crescendoing noise, we must prioritize listening to God through His Word and His Church over our many other distractions. Also, to hear well, I have to love the speaker. It’s easy to ignore someone you don’t love, but make no mistake: learning to love God is the first commandment. If you’re ever going to love Him enough to making hearing His voice your top priority, you are going to have to actively pursue Him where He is found.” (Father Barnabas Powell)

“Through Scripture, creation, the church, and by his Spirit, God fills the world with his voice. The only issue is, “Are we listening?” (John Loftness and C. J. Mahaney)

“Prayer as listening is our first step towards hearing God…The Spirit communicates with those mortals who have attained a measure of personal purity through prayer, men and women who are receptive to His voice.” (Archimandrite Sergius OCPM 12/31/2017)

“It’s easy to see God in the miraculous. It’s not so easy to see Him in the mundane. But that’s where most of us live...This is all the more reason why we need to be sensitive to His voice—so we can be aware of and attentive to the subtle ways in which He works.” (Charles Swindoll)

“Since vocation – calling – is necessarily a vocal matter, God speaks directly to set His design before each person. We hear Him in our hearts as He seeks to break the bonds that keep us from responding to His call.” (Dynamis 4/4/2018)

"A man prayed, and at first he thought that prayer was talking. But he became more and more quiet until in the end he realized that prayer is listening.” (Soren Kierkegaard)

"A woman said to her priest, “Father, I go to church and am very active in this parish; I attend a Bible Study class weekly; I read beneficial books and I have all these Apps on my phone, from daily scripture readings to inspirational speakers… But I have no peace, and I don’t feel that I really pray to God.” And her priest said to her, “Well, while you’re doing all that, you probably don’t let God get in a word edgewise.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)

“A prayerful spirit is the spirit to which God will speak. A prayerful spirit will be a listening spirit waiting to hear what God says." (Andrew Murray)

"Hearing provides us with information and direction and encouragement in support of action. If we hear and then do nothing, the hearing was to no purpose, and God's will for our lives was thwarted, and Christ died in vain for we remain separated from God.” (Fr. Joseph Irvin)"Only those who are mature in faith can hear and discern the promptings of the Spirit." (St. John Chrysostom)

“God gave us two ears but only one mouth for a reason. Listening is usually more important than talking. But we can listen and still not hear. The ability to really hear grows within us over time in our continual dedication to our Lord. The Lord emphasizes the importance of hearing for our spiritual growth and formation.” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

“Human ears hear many sounds, but there is a deeper kind of listening that results in spiritual understanding.” (Life Application Study Bible, Matthew 13:9-10)

"He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Jesus Christ, Matthew13:9)

“Often it is not through listening to preaching but listening to friends that brings us home spiritually.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“I was amazed to discover that service can be as small of an act as just listening to someone's story…Listening is the language of love.” (Munir Pavez, Elaine Michaels)

“Helping others doesn’t mean we should automatically rescue them from suffering the consequences of their actions. Suffering can be a valuable teacher to help us modify our future behavior. The important factor is that we listen to them deeply...By listening to them, you are sending the message that they matter to you and to God. What matters is that you are there to listen with compassion and gentleness.” (Father David L. Fontes, PsyD)

“Listening, therefore, is a crucial virtue…Often one will help others most not so much by what one says and advises, as by one's peaceful, silent presence and attentive listening.” (Rev. John Chryssavgis)

“Listening is a sacrificial act of self-offering …Real listening requires that we suspend our own thoughts, feelings, and agenda, and allow the other to be heard. Real listening is an act of veneration that nurtures oneness in the midst of daily life.” (Philip Mamalakis, PhD)

“Ask yourself what is prayer and why do we pray? The answer to these questions is simple. Prayer is the means by which we relate to God and continually develop our relationship with Him. It is the time we spend talking to God and, more importantly, listening to what He is speaking to our hearts.” (Sacramental Living)

“...when we confuse adrenalin arousal for spirituality we start to worship our own bodies instead of God! We think we are listening for God’s voice when we are actually waiting for our adrenalin system to be aroused.” (Archibald Hart)

“Many have written about the hyperactivity of today’s contemporary society and our cultural attention deficit disorder that makes slow reflection and meditation a lost art. Nonetheless, if prayer is to be a true conversation with God, it must be regularly preceded by listening to God’s voice through meditation on the Scripture.” (Pastor Timothy Keller)

“Through Scripture, creation, the church, and by his Spirit, God fills the world with his voice. The only issue is,"Are we listening?” (John Loftness and C. J. Mahaney)

“Now, more than ever, we live in a world where we need to hear God’s voice. There are so many voices vying for our attention." (Margaret Feinberg)

“Active listening is being attentive to the basic meaning and the feelings in a statement made by another…Active listening is not judgmental or critical or patronizing or advice-giving. Active listening does not try to fix problems. It is simply being fully present to the other as the other speaks…Active listening absorbs the meanings and feelings behind the other’s words and demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the other, that we actually heard what was said… Listening is love delivered.” (Albert S. Rossi)

"The first service one owes to others in the fellowship consists in listening to them. Just as love of God begins in listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

"...the more we speak, the less we listen; the more we hear the sound of our own voice, the more we drown out the silent voice of our conscience." (Archimandrite Vassilios Papavassiliou)

“Those who are receptive to Christ’s message have, in a sense,"tuned in.” Others, however, have “tuned out” Christ. Christ not only bids us to hear Him, but also asks us to"hearken” – that is, to stay tuned in to Him (Proverbs 8:32). Hearkening is what a loving mother does when her child cries. Despite the clangor and distraction of life, she hears and moves. Mothers are always on ready alert, poised to respond to the child’s voice. Christ our God prompts us to grow in our capacity to hearken like a mother.” (Dynamis 3/10/2015)

“The hearing Jesus wants from us is not the kind we use when we listen to background music or when someone starts to recount a long story we’ve already heard. To truly"hear” Jesus’ words is to believe them, to use them immediately in decisions and attitudes, and to base life on them— your recreation and work, family plans and money matters, praying and singing.” (Life Application Study Bible, Mark 4:9)


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