I have recently noticed that I am adept at a skill that should not be celebrated. I pretend to listen. Whether it’s a loss of focus because we’re planning what to say next in a heated debate or the random derailed train of thought amidst a casual conversation, I doubt that I’m the only one who excels in this gifting. Sometimes, realizing I have no idea what has been said, I will listen more carefully in the hopes of covering my lack of attention; other times, I simply tell on myself because I have no idea where the conversation has been.

When it comes to communication, few of us lose focus when we’re the ones talking—it’s the listening that creates difficulties. The same could be said for prayer.

We have our agendas of what we want God to know about our lives, our lists of prayer requests we offer for others, and a general expectation of what we hope to gain from our time with Him. While Scripture teaches us that persistence is valuable in prayer (Luke 11:5-10), we can begin to live out that Scripture (and others that deal with prayer) through our voice and not our heart.

Even the Lord’s Prayer, while it provides a model for us to know what to say, must be encountered not simply through what we speak but also by what we hear. We ask for His kingdom, will, and provision, but then we must listen to the particulars of how we should live this out in our daily lives. Listening is difficult, not only for the intangible attention it requires, but also for the willingness to put others before ourselves.

We can look for God’s hand and miss His heart, but we will never miss His hand when we listen for His heart (Matthew 6:33).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Revelation 1:1-20