We only worship God to the degree that we hear Him speak. Jesus would frequently end his stories with the words “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” and there are reminders throughout the Bible to hear, to listen and to act on what God is saying to us.
Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.
1 Samuel 3:9
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
In ‘My Utmost For His Highest’ Oswald Chambers says:
We don’t consciously and deliberately disobey God— we simply don’t listen to Him. God has given His commands to us, but we pay no attention to them— not because of wilful disobedience, but because we do not truly love and respect Him . . . Why are we so terrified for God to speak to us? It is because we know that when God speaks we must either do what He asks or tell Him we will not obey.
I’m acutely aware that I have the amazing privilege of standing in front of a congregation most Sundays. I’m often the only one looking out while everyone else is looking my way! I’ve heard of preachers who have wanted to put up a large mirror so that the congregation were able to see themselves. I’m not about to try that, but if a mirror were there, I wonder what we would find. Rev Andrew Fuller was the first secretary of the Baptist Missionary Society and he wrote these words during his days as a Kettering pastor in 1806:
You cannot conceive the difference between addressing a people full of tender and affectionate attention, whose souls appear in their eyes, and answer, as it were, to the word of God; and preaching to those who are either half asleep, or their thoughts manifestly occupied on other things.
The primary way we hear God speak is through the Bible, and the primary way we encounter God in the scriptures is in community. When we come together to study God’s word – on Sunday mornings or at Church Night – the question is not ‘Will God to speak to us?’ but rather ‘Are we listening?’