“Shema” | Listen and Obey

When we hear the words “listen and obey,” we think of them as two separate actions in our Western mindset. However, this is not the case as it relates to the Hebraic thought process. 

In Hebrew, to obey doesn’t mean to simply follow instructions. It means…

  • To listen 
  • To pay attention
  • To take heed
  • To respond

The word for obey is “shema,” which encompasses hearing and responding. 

Listen and Obey | The Shema Prayer

For thousands of years, the Hebrew people pray these words morning and night…

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

—Deuteronomy 6:4-5

This is one of the shortest prayers recited by the Hebrew people. Yet, it is one of the most important. It expresses their devotion to the Lord. It is an expression of the covenant. 

Deuteronomy 6 goes on to say… 

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

—Deuteronomy 6:6-9

In other words, when we listen and obey, we acknowledge who God is (the Lord is one). We declare our covenant relationship and devotion (love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength) in the heavenly courts. 

This prayer sows seeds in the spirit that God multiplies. 

How the Lord Multiplies Listening and Obeying

Sowing these seeds creates a pathway for our children. They will learn to listen and obey the Lord. When we meditate on this covenant command and instruction wherever we are, God releases heavenly protection and wisdom needed in any situation. 

Furthermore, when our children learn the depth of what it means to listen and obey, a legacy will be left, and there will be blessings for a thousand generations.

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments;”

—Deuteronomy 7:9

Jesus echoes this… 

“‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’”

—Matthew 22:36-40

Free Guide Are You Unknowingly Blocking Your Spiritual Blessings

Listen and Obey in Scripture

Below is a list of scriptures with the words that reflect the concept and command to “listen and obey.” Take a moment to read through these scriptures. When you come across the following words and their variations, replace them with your new understanding of “shema”—to listen and obey.

  • Hear 
  • Listen
  • Do
  • Obey
  • Keep

Listen and Obey Bible Verses

  • “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”—Romans 10:17 (emphasis added)

  • “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.—James 1:22-25 (emphasis added)

  • “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.’”—John 14:23-24 (emphasis added)

  • “Then the Angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said: ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the Lord, because you have done this thing,’” (a picture of obedience) “‘and have not withheld your son, your only son—blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’”—Genesis 22:15-18 (emphasis added)

Ask the Lord to put this covenant word in your heart, with full understanding and knowledge that “to listen and obey” is a reflection of your devotion to Him and His to you. The words are two sides of the same coin. 

The understanding here is to see that when we listen and obey (and know those two as one), God multiplies the seeds sown in our words and deeds, causing blessings to flow. There is a blessing released in covenant obedience!

Understanding “Shema” Protects You

The Bible says that we (His people) are destroyed for lack of knowledge (see Hosea 4:6)—the knowledge is His Word that reveals His covenant will. So, if we separate “listen and obey” into two stand-alone commands, it only creates a gap in our understanding of covenant. The two are to be one—shema. The Lord sees them as one. 

And when we see the words “listen and obey” as one command, we close the gap and activate the Shema Prayer, which creates a protective covering over us. Therefore, the devil cannot gain access or has no foothold in our lives. 

Hands opening a pair of doors to reveal bright light.

Understanding “Shema” Opens Doors

Not only does understanding that “listen and obey” go hand-in-hand, but it also opens doors to our prayers. 

From this new understanding, you know that when you hear a word from the Lord, your response is to obey accordingly. You see the blessings of multiplication that follow.

But there is more…

God is the God who hears—El Shema. He hears your cries, prayers, petitions, and praise. And He responds! This is the beauty and glory of the covenant relationship you have with Him. 

  • “I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me!”—Psalm 66:17-20 (emphasis added)

  • “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”—1 John 5:14-15

  • “The Lord is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous.”—Proverbs 15:29 (emphasis added)

  • “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.”—Psalm 34:17 (emphasis added)

When we listen and obey, turning to Him and following Jesus’ command to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, and minds, we can expect the Lord to hear and respond. Furthermore, His Spirit will reveal to us what to ask for in prayer. 

So then, move forward into this new era, knowing, seeing, and feeling the covenant-keeping God in a deeper way. Encounter what it truly means to listen and obey and watch as God listens and responds to you.