A Prayer for Becoming a Quicker Better Listener (by Scotty Smith)

A Prayer for Becoming a Quicker Better Listener:
     Know this, my beloved brothers: Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. James 1:19-20
     Cease to hear instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge. Prov. 19:27
    “Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.” Isa. 55:2-3
     Dear Lord Jesus, these Scriptures indict and invite me today. I stand convicted. I’m not as good of a listener as you desire and the gospel demands. I won’t blame it on loss of hearing, “low talkers” or ADD. It’s my issue. You’ve given me two ears and one mouth, and the anatomical ratio is no mere accident. Help me become a better and much more engaged listener.
     I’ve recently caught myself rehearsing my answers before someone even finishes their thought; as though what I have to say is more important than what’s on another person’s heart. I’m also having a harder time remembering names of people I’ve just met; which I’m convinced is a sign of loving poorly and not being as present as the gospel would have me be.
     I’ll take my cue from you, Lord Jesus, for you are the quintessential listener. There’s no one quicker to listen than you. I never have to snap my fingers to get your attention. I never have to reel you back into focus. I never catch you looking away, as though you’re bored with me. I never have to repeat myself several times to make sure you heard what I really said.
     You never interrupt me. You never spin what I’m saying. You never talk over me when I’m trying to tell you something. There’s no one who listens as attentively, respectively, and compassionately as you.
     Indeed, Jesus, I don’t need healing for deafness but grace for listening—first and foremost to you. You’re always speaking, through the Scriptures, and you only speak words of life. What a foolish man I am not to hang onto every syllable you utter. You want my ears that you might have my heart, and you want my heart that you might give me even more of the riches of your grace.
     Jesus, help me give my wife, my children, friends and strangers the gift of being heard. I find no joy in frustrating the very people who love me. Bring the gospel to bear in such a way that I will become more notorious for my good listening than for my frequent speaking.
     It’s a humbling joy to confess specific sin to you today, Jesus. But I’m confident of your care and expectant of your help. So very Amen I pray, in the riches and greatness of your name.