Learning to Listen Well

I often rise before my husband does, but on some mornings he wakes up earlier than I do. He kindly refrains from eating breakfast until I wake up. Always eager to eat, he asks, “What time will you be able to have breakfast?” (I wait 30 minutes or more after taking a medication before I eat breakfast.)

One such morning when my husband asked me what time I would be able to have breakfast, I told him it would be 8:30. When I sat down with a plate of food in front of me, he joined me. But he only had hot chocolate—no food, in front of him.

     “Aren’t you going to eat breakfast?” I asked.

      “No, I told you that I would eat my breakfast right away but wait and have my hot chocolate with you.”

      “I didn’t hear that!”

     “You were standing in the hall when I said it; then, you walked into your office.”

     “I only heard you say that you would wait until 8:30!  . . . Are you sure that you didn’t just think those other words?”

We both laughed and I admitted that I had not listened well. I had turned my attention away from my husband before he was through speaking to me.

Sometimes I do the same thing with God. I read a Scripture verse and begin to receive the word of encouragement, correction, or wisdom that he has for me. Then, just like I did with my husband, I turn my attention away before God is through speaking to me.

I’ve found something that helps me stay focused and listen more effectively to God.  I call it prayer-journaling. I write down the words of Scripture that God speaks to me through. Then, I write down my responses to his words.  

Having conversations with God on paper helps my mind from wandering.  It also keeps me from, later in the day, wondering what it was that he said to me. I can go back and reread my journal.

I started this practice when I was a college student.  It has been the major contributor to my spiritual growth. More than anything else it has helped me to internalize God’s love.  I’m so grateful for the mentors early in life that helped me learn to prayer-journal.

Two of them, Rosalind Rinker and Leanne Payne influenced me primarily through their writing. (I never met Rosalind Rinker; I met Leanne Payne only once at a conference.)   

Through her book,“Conversational Prayer”, Rosalind Rinker gave me the inspiration and encouragement that I needed to start my journey.  She showed me that I could come to God as a friend and open up heart to him. No matter what was in it, he would never shame me.  

Through her book, “Listening Prayer”, Leanne Payne taught me the value of having a bit more structure, while reminding me that no two prayer journals are alike. To each one of us, God offers a private conversation.

Through prayer journaling, I’ve  learned to listen well.  Consequently, I am more in touch not only with God’s heart but also my own. 

Having a morning conversation with Jesus makes breakfast conversations with John more enjoyable. I can laugh instead of argue about what I did or did not hear. 


To help you start or better understand what prayer-journaling is,  I’ve designed a PDF. It’s FREE! Simply send your email address to 4choosinggrace@gmail.com and ask for my LEARN TO PRAYER-JOURNAL  PDF. 

10 thoughts on “Learning to Listen Well

  1. Great enlightening work, Jane. Thanks for sharing, as this happens more often than I like. Listening does take effort, and I am determined all the more, to make the effort to listen.

    • Thank you for your comment. Jean. Yes, listening does take effort, Jean, and determination. God bless you in your efforts to listen.

  2. I loved your article Jane! Thanks so much for sharing your heart. I have been journaling for many years. I’m not sure it’s always prayer journaling; but, I love the reminder to take the time to listen to what He has to say and wait until He is finished before I run off and do something else.

    • Thank you for your comment, Marlene. I’m so glad that you also journal, and I have no doubt that you pray! I would enjoy hearing more about the type of journaling that you do.

  3. i really like knowing other people struggle with simple communication. as i was reading this Dane came over and said, “blah, blah, razor case is black about this size…” after disengaging (with some difficulty) from blog, me – “and why are you telling me what your razor case looks like?” “because i can’t find it!” me, “oh, thanks.” under my breath – “i think”, i chuckled. thank you Jane!

  4. What a lovely reminder to have more conversations with God and to really listen. I know that is the point you want us to walk away with.
    But your illustration of your conversation with your husband happens in my household everyday sometimes all day long.

    Let’s face it, communication is difficult and complicated. We are all too busy in our lives and don’t take the time to make sure we sre understanding or understood.

    t’s interesting to retrace the conversation to dissect what the missing piece of information was that wasn’t heard or said. And you are so right, that being in right relationship with our Lord helps us to sort that out in a loving way instead of causing big misunderstandings and divides in marriages.

    I love reading your stories about your conversations with your husband and your reminders to stay close to God in conversational prayer.

    • You are so right, Rosemary. communication is complicated and difficult. I deeply respect and appreciate the work that you have done and that you are doing to help others learn how to peacefully resolve conflicts, which so often arise because of our communication lacks.

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