Learning to Listen to the Word of God


January 7, 2021

Isaiah 55:1-3 (NIV)

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
Give ear and come to me;
listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.”


For the next five entries we will share in a series of practical ways of engaging the Word of God in the power of the Spirit of God. Let’s identify these words from this prophecy of Isaiah 55:3 as our First Word—Last Word for today: 

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

The first key practice for engaging the Word of God is also the most overlooked one: hearing. This may surprise you, but the Word of God was not written to be read. It was written to be heard. At the time of its revelation there were no printing presses; only scrolls (and before that, stone tablets). People gathered in order to hear the Word of God. They heeded words from God like these of the prophet Isaiah:

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

Reading is good, but reading has a way of bypassing our faculties of hearing. Reading leads to thinking and processing, but not to listening and hearing. Reading simply can’t be the measure of engagement with God’s Word because, for the overwhelming majority of human history, most people could not read. We are born hearing and seeing, not reading and thinking. Remember, also, we walk by faith and not by sight, and faith comes by hearing. Listening and hearing invokes our imagination, which leads to vision and seeing.

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

Am I suggesting that we should only hear the Word of God? No. I am and will be insisting on all manner of engagement with God’s Word. Listening and hearing are a good starting place. How do we do this? For starters, let’s acknowledge that hearing takes at least two people; one to read aloud and the other to listen. This amplifies the preference of God to engage with us in our togetherness. If you are reading devotionally and in solitude, try reading aloud. Remember, the Word of God has power. There is no sweeter sound in any language than the audible sound of the spoken Word of God. It always accomplishes the purposes for which God sends it.

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

Ask your children or grandchildren to read God’s Word aloud to you. Read it aloud for them. A lot of worship services these days have all but dispensed with the reading of God’s Word. If you are a preacher or worship leader, create space for the reading of Scripture in the midst of public worship.

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

One of my First Word—Last Word practices each day for the past weeks engages my phone. Just before I turn off the light at night and the first thing I do in the morning  is open the YouVersion Bible app and turn to the Psalms. Next, I click on the audio version and (at night) set the sleep timer for ten minutes. I focus on listening and usually drift off to sleep before it is finished. I try to cover ten psalms a day between the morning and night practices. In this way, I cover the entire 150 psalms twice per month. Already, this is changing me.

“Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.”

First Word. Last Word. God’s Word.


Our Father in heaven, thank you for your Word, which endures forever. Thank you for speaking your Word and inviting us to hear it. Thank you for this invitation to “Give ear and come to me,” and to “listen” so that we might live. Open our ears in a way that your Word goes straight to our heart and, from there, let it become enfleshed in our lives. Come, Holy Spirit, and empower this good and delightful work with your Word. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. 


How will you engage this delightful work of listening to the Word of God? 


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For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

One Response

  1. I like what you said about going to sleep with the psalms. I often listen to the bible app. I also like to walk and read out loud my scriptures. BUT on a lazy days, I watch the movie, the gospel of John, Luke and Mark. On my day of fasting, I watch the gospels and never am I hungry. God’s blessing on all that you do for our King.

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