What Two Bible Apps Taught Me About Listening to God
I tried to listen to an audio Bible devotional this morning. It’s an audio devotional that I receive in my email inbox. I’ve been receiving it for a few weeks but haven’t yet tried to listen to it. I opened it up for the first time today because I’ve wanted to see if trying to get into listening to an audio devotional will help push me through the little bit of the fog that I’ve had as it comes to my spiritual growth and listening to the Bible.
Like you, I’m sure, I struggle from time to time with my spiritual growth practices. I get used to whatever it is I’m doing and my listening becomes complacent as I find myself going through the routine of the practice. So, to shake things up, I vary my Bible reading or switch in a new app or audio program for a time.
So I opened this devotional and tried to listen to it. It was one of those links that puts you on a page with the audio file, but if the phone screen turns off, the audio pauses as well. I didn’t realize this, so it was a little frustrating to try to use. It was difficult to get into because I had to sit there with the screen open once the devotional was loaded up.
The first thing I tried to do once the devotional was playing was minimize the window so that I could open something else–but it turned the audio off. I realized I was just going to have to open it up and leave that app open for the 20 minutes or so that I was listening to the devotional. So I opened it up and sat down with a cup of coffee and, after the devotional began playing again, I turned the screen off on my phone so I could just sit and listen to it with my eyes closed–and then the audio turned off again. I had now learned that I was going to have to let the screen stay on in order to listen to the devotional.
I reset it for the third time and began listening to it. I left the screen on but something must have happened. I don’t know if I bumped the phone but somehow it went into a screensaver mode. The screen turned off again about eight minutes in and the audio stopped and when I opened the phone back up, it restarted the audio devotional at the beginning. I finally got frustrated after these three false starts and I shut it down for the day and listened to something else instead.
I’m not sharing this to be critical towards or about the audio devotional that I tried to listen to. I’m sharing this because I think it illustrates a point, and that point is that sometimes as we try to listen to God, our listening is interrupted. It’s difficult to work through and it can be hard to figure out what it is that we’re actually hearing. I only heard snippets and bits and pieces of this audio devotional over three false starts, and our listening to God can be like this as well. We can begin to hear something but quickly become distracted by something else and stop listening and hearing. We can attempt to listen more fully but not understand what we think we’re hearing or what it is that’s being said. And we can lose our connection to God that way. Or we can listen but something else external to us can get in the way of us hearing what it is that we think God wants us to hear. Listening to God can be difficult.
Listening to an audio devotional as a listening practice was much easier for me when I was able to open a common app, Spotify, and download or start following a different audio devotional. I know how Spotify works, I was able to get the devotional started and minimize the app and move on to something else while listening to the devotional. This made it much easier and seamless for me. Listening to God can become easier for us if we have a guide that we can rely on–somebody or something that can serve as an anchor point to help us walk through the day-to-day and uncover through our fog, difficulties, and challenges what listening to God is really about.
I encourage you to think about your practices of listening to God. Do you try to read the Bible every day and pray? Do you listen to an audio devotional? Do you listen to an audio Bible? Do you watch lessons or listen to inspirational music on YouTube? What practices do you have to help you listen to God? Make a list of these, and then make a list of the difficulties that you have in listening, the distractions that creep in, the challenges that you have, the fog that you have to cut through, and then think about how a guide could be helpful.
What would be helpful to you in learning how to listen to God better? Who might be helpful to you as somebody you could talk to that could help you learn how to discern what God is saying to you? Make a plan to go about addressing these challenges. Reach out to a trusted guide to help you. Listening to God isn’t something in your life that should be stressful or challenging. Rather, it should be something that is life-giving that you look forward to each day, to listen to God, so that you can then follow where he leads you.
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