Open Your Ears (1 Nephi 20)

by | Apr 6, 2016 | Scripture Study | 1 comment


At the end of 1 Nephi 19, Nephi mentions that he is reading the words of Isaiah to his brothers. 1 Nephi 20 and 21 represent two of the chapters that Nephi read to them. Although not a word-for-word match, these two chapters line up closely with Isaiah 48 and 49.

In chapter 20 (Isaiah 48), the prophet scolds the House of Israel for not heeding what God was telling them, especially about the coming of Christ. Although God shared this knowledge on multiple occasions, it somehow didn’t penetrate for Israel. The prophet words it, “Yea, and thou heardest not; yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear was not opened” (verse 8). He describes them as having closed ears, and the admonishment in the rest of the chapter is “Open Your Ears!”

Once upon a time, a man was at a doctor’s office lamenting that his wife was losing her hearing, but she refused to have her ears checked. “What can I do to get her to go to the doctor?” the man asked. The doctor suggested, “When you get home, call to your wife from the front door and ask, ‘What’s for dinner?’ When she doesn’t answer, go one room closer, and do it again. Keep doing that until she gets the point.”

The man followed the doctor’s instructions. He called “What’s for dinner?” from the front door and heard no response. He called again from the family room — still heard no response. He repeated it from the kitchen door and finally stepped right next to his wife and asked, “What’s for dinner?” His wife turned to him and said, “For the fourth time, we’re having pasta tonight!”

In this story, it’s the man who is losing his hearing. Because he was not hearing his wife’s responses, he assumed incorrectly that she was not hearing what he was saying.

Sometimes, we try to make God hard of hearing.

“God is not hearing my prayer,” we may say. In reality, God hears every prayer. It may well be that our ears are not open to “hear” God’s response. God speaks to different people in different ways. Some may hear an audible voice; some may have a new thought enter their mind; others may receive His message from scripture or even from other people. It’s important that you know how God speaks to you — whether it’s one of the ways listed or some other way. When you do, you recognize His voice because you have your spiritual ears open.

Why might we close our ears to what God is saying to us? Sometimes it’s because we’re distracted by the cares of life, or perhaps we’re unwilling to wait for God’s response, or maybe we’re in a sinful condition. However, the most frequent reason why our ears are closed is that we are looking for a different response than what God is giving and are therefore unwilling to hear anything different than that. This is why Israel missed Christ; they were looking for a different type of Messiah than what God said would be coming.

So, when we communicate with God, let’s remember to not only talk to Him but to also keep our ears open for His response. The more we try to recognize His voice and not put words in His mouth and wait until He is ready to respond, the more God will speak to us. We all prefer to speak to those who actually listen to us; likewise, God prefers to speak to us if our ears are open.

Saints Hymnal No. 304 (verse 2)

Open my ears that I may hear
Voices of truth thou sendest clear
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear
Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee
Ready my God thy will to see
Open my ears, illumine me
Spirit divine!

This article has undergone ministry review and approval.


  • Brother Jerry Valenti

    Brother Jerry lives in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with wife Sister Pat and daughter Maria.

1 Comment

  1. Teri-Lyn Tunno

    I really enjoyed the lesson! Really wonderful blog! I can say that I do not always hear His voice and apologize to Him for my hard head. 🙂


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