Listening Opens Our Hearts to God

Little Rock Scripture Study Connections Archive | Forward Email Facebook Pinterest
Little Rock Connections: The Good News for Today
February 2017

Listening Opens Our Hearts to God

Listening Opens Our Hearts to God

Barbara Fleischer

There seem to be so many approaches to prayer–Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, contemplative prayer, centering, praying with Scripture, rosaries, novenas, liturgies and litanies. But these all are simply vehicles for bringing us into prayer. At the heart of each approach to prayer is an open, listening heart. Prayer is more about listening to God’s word and love for us than about using any particular prayer form to prepare our hearts for Holy Presence. When we truly listen to God, we are transformed in the crucible of God’s love. And as simple as it sounds, deep listening is not always easy. We need to be in community to help us listen and we need practice in listening.

If we let it, our Scripture study group can become for us a school for listening. Each week, we can deepen the ways in which we attend to others when they are speaking, attune ourselves to the feelings that spill out into our group in the midst of dialogue, and notice the quality of our listening as well as the impediments in ourselves that may emerge while we’re engaging in conversation. Every act of listening with a welcoming heart helps us in listening to God. Indeed, God speaks to us through others and through the events of our lives, if we but notice.

Have you ever noticed yourself taking a “mental vacation” when another person is speaking? A few seconds or even a minute may go by while our mind wanders around. At such times, we have basically left the person with only the shell of our presence. We may be nodding, but we are not listening. As we miss the words addressed to us, we also miss all of the underlying meanings and unspoken emotions that form the richness of the conversation. And when we pray, do we find ourselves taking those same kinds of mental vacations? Do distractions take an endless toll on our ability to lift our minds and hearts to God? Perhaps if we begin by noticing where our mind goes and gently growing in the discipline of keeping our attention focused as we listen to those around us, we may find ourselves less distracted in prayer as well.

What happens to the quality of our listening when someone begins expressing difficult emotions, such as anger or pain? Can we continue listening actively, helping to clarify what the speaker is trying to convey, even if the anger is directed at us? Or do we deflect and change the subject or become defensive? How do we respond to strong emotions? As we take stock of our listening in difficult times, we might see some similar patterns in prayer. Are we able to bring our strong emotions to God and listen humbly for a response, even if we are feeling angry in our initial honesty? Or do we avoid certain subjects in prayer? Again, let us notice how our listening in everyday situations has its parallels in our listening to God.

Good listening takes practice. When we notice how we listen, we gradually learn how to open not only our ears but also our hearts. That opening leads us into the heart of God who invites us to listen for God’s word spoken both in the quiet times of prayer as well as in the noisy events of our lives.

(Barbara Fleischer, PhD, is an emeritus faculty member in the Loyola Institute for Ministry in New Orleans and is the author of Facilitating for Growth published by Liturgical Press.)

As you make your plans for Lent this year, make plans to immerse yourself in the Passion and Resurrection Narratives of Jesus. The printed materials have been revised and the wrap-up lectures are entirely new. Speakers include: Deacons Matthew Glover, Tom Jakobs and Dan Hennessey, along with Msgr. David LeSieur, Catherine Upchurch, and Clifford Yeary.

We’re pleased to announce two new volumes of Alive in the Word, available this month. 

Our newest in the category of Cloud of Witnesses is John the Baptist, Forerunner by Jerome Kodell, OSB. Father Jerome focuses on three episodes in the life of the baptizer: the preaching of John (Matt 3:1-11), the identity of the Messiah (Matt 11:2-14) and the friend of the bridegroom (John 3:22-30). 

Our newest in the category of Virtues for Disciples is a volume entitled Hope, An Anchor in Today’s World. Janet Schaeffler, OP, explores the hope that flows from praise (Ps 145:13-21), suffering in light of what is to come (Rom 8:18-27) and the story of the blind beggar who places his hope in Jesus (Luke 18:35-43).

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences using Little Rock Scripture Study or Alive in the Word. Visit our Facebook page to post your comments or contact us directly by email at

Upcoming speaking engagements include:

Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California, February 24-26. Cackie Upchurch will present two sessions: “Reading and Living the Scriptures” and “Trust is the Key to Faithfulness.” Come by our booth in the exhibit hall to see what’s new and exciting for your parish Bible study groups AND for those who may never join a group. 

For more information about workshops, Little Rock Connections, or to offer suggestions, or submit items, please contact:
Little Rock Scripture Study
PO Box 7565
Little Rock, AR 72217

Little Rock Scripture Study

Little Rock Scripture Study, PO Box 7565, Little Rock, AR 72217-7565
Liturgical Press, 2950 Saint John's Road, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321
Phone: 1.800.858.5434 or 320.363.2213
Buy Online:
© Copyright 2017 Little Rock Scripture Study, Little Rock, Arkansas. All rights reserved.

Are images missing?  View the online version.
To ensure delivery to your inbox, please add to your email address book.
This message was sent to {{{email_address}}}.
If you received this email as a forward, we invite you to subscribe
If you wish to UNSUBSCRIBE from future email promotions, please click here.
PLEASE DO NOT REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE. Replies will not be read or forwarded for handling.