Has this ever happened to you? A friend tells you that he or she recently heard a "really great, powerful" sermon that was "just wonderful." You ask, "What was it about?" and your friend replies, "I don't really remember exactly — but anyway, it was just wonderful!" Sound familiar? The person did not benefit deeply from the message — he doesn't even remember what was said! — because he did not listen effectively. During the Feast of Tabernacles God's ministers will be encouraging, correcting and instructing us in God's way in numerous sermons and sermonettes. Here are five keys to help you remember and apply what you hear: 1.) Desire to learn and change. The book of Proverbs tells us that those who desire to hear instruction are wise (Prov. 1:5, 8:32-34). You must be in a continually repentant attitude, willing to admit error and to submit to correction (I John 1:8-10). Think about how to apply in your life what you are hearing. Listen as though the speaker were talking directly to you — he is! 2.) Develop concentration. Begin concentrating before the speaker says a word. This requires preparation. Make sure you have had a good night's rest the night before. Books, pen and paper should be ready — briefcases and purses put away. It's difficult to concentrate while rummaging through a purse, or while precariously balancing an open briefcase on your knees. Give the speaker your undivided attention. A book may drop with a thud, or a mother may have to carry a child out of the room. Some people will turn to stare in amazement, as if they have not seen anything like it before, and break their concentration on the speaker. By the time they tune into the speaker again, they will have missed a great deal. Do not daydream or become sidetracked. Concentrate until the speaker finishes. 3.) Increase your vocabulary. Words are the building blocks of the mind. Our minds must build mental pictures from the words we hear. If you have a good vocabulary, those mental pictures will be sharp, vivid and memorable rather than fuzzy and out-of-focus. As you hear or read unfamiliar words, make a note of them. Look up their definitions and add them to your vocabulary. Improving your vocabulary improves your mind and your ability to understand and retain what you hear. 4.) Take effective notes. Most speakers use an outline. They will usually state a point and then develop it. Listen carefully and try to reproduce the speaker's outline in your own words. Taking notes should help you concentrate and organize your thoughts as you listen, and notes can serve as a valuable memory tool. Of course, don't take too many notes. While you are writing you may miss something the speaker says. The pages following this article have been specially prepared for notetaking at the Feast of Tabernacles. 5.) Realize that spiritual understanding comes through God's Spirit. The previous keys will help anyone become a more effective listener to most subject matter. Paul tells us, though, that man cannot discover, on his own, the knowledge of God (I Cor. 2:12). God must reveal it through His Spirit. And Acts 5:32 tells us God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. Obedience is vital. Another prerequisite for spiritual understanding is prayer. Ask God to bless the delivery of the message and also your hearing and understanding. Learning to listen effectively is important to every Christian. God is revealing, to His end-time Church, much knowledge never before understood. We should realize what a privilege we have and how important effective listening is. If we apply these five keys, then Christ will be able to say to us, "Blessed are... your ears, for they hear" (Matt. 13:16).