Listening to God

by Fr. Eddie Doherty


It seems so simple, to listen to God all the time. Yet, it’s probably the most difficult thing to do. There are so many distractions—people who need us, or hate us, or want us to do something for them.

People eat us up with their own problems, with their own agonies, with their own demands, and sometimes even with their own joys. Did you ever know of anybody who, on returning from a big trip somewhere, just couldn’t stop telling you all about it?

We can’t possibly think of God all the time, because of the pressure of people around us. And yet, if we make the sincere intention of living every moment for God, with God, and in God, we won’t bother about anything else.

It won’t matter if we don’t think of God for hours at a time. The fact that we want to, the fact that we have made this intention, this desire of wanting to hear God all the time, is somehow enough, as far as God is concerned.

It’s like you go to bed with a rosary in your hands. You want to pray it with love for Our Lady and Our Lord, but you fall asleep. That’s nature overcoming you. Don’t worry about it. There’s a legend that Our Lady and the angels will finish it for you. You had the intention of saying it, so don’t worry about it.

It’s that way with the voice of Christ. Sometimes you don’t hear it; you’re wrapped up in something else. You’re rushing somebody to the hospital, let’s say.

You can’t think of God or anything else. You’re thinking of the person you’re taking to the hospital, what’s going to happen to him or her. Subconsciously in your mind you may be saying a little prayer, but your actual attention is all on the person you are loving by helping take them to the hospital.

When we’re all wrapped up in the work we are doing, we don’t explicitly think of God; we think of what we’re doing, and how to do it well. The fact that God is in your heart makes everything you do a prayer.

Your concern for this person in the ambulance, for instance, is a prayer, a great prayer, because it’s an unselfish act. It comes out of your own heart. It’s love at its best. It’s a prayer because love is prayer.

Excerpted from Getting to Know God, (1998), pp. 125-126, available from MH Publications.