Speak, Lord, I’m Listening!
By Dot Bowen
The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 1 Samuel 3:8-9 (NIV)
I have often thought if Jesus sat on my bed and told me what He wanted me to do, I would do it. I find myself jealous of the great men of God like Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses who were able to talk to God in a very intimate way. Have you ever wished you had this kind of a relationship with God? I have a feeling you’re a lot like me; if God sat on your bed and gave you instructions how to make wise decisions, you would do what He said in a heartbeat. I also have a feeling if God entered our bedrooms and sat on our beds, our hearts would stop beating over the glory of His presence.
Recently I was reading in 1 Samuel 3 about Samuel hearing someone call his name while he was in bed. This reminded me of my desire to able to audibly hear the voice of God. As I read Samuel’s story, I found myself seeking clues on how to hear God’s voice. Even though I don’t have a certain role in the life of the Jewish people like Samuel, I do believe God is the same now as He was then.
How can we hear God’s voice? God longs to communicate with us even more than we desire to talk with Him. This may seem like an impossible thought until you study the life of Jesus. Jesus taught on prayer and illustrated how we should pray during His three years of ministry. Based on personal experience, I firmly believe the reason I don’t hear God speaking is often my unwillingness to be still and quiet long enough to listen. I’m far more interested in talking and listening to other people talk about how I can hear God than asking God to speak to me. One of my favorite things about the story of Eli and Samuel is Eli’s response to Samuel. Eli recognized that it was God talking to Samuel. Instead of telling Samuel what Eli thought God was saying, He encouraged Samuel to seek God for himself; he told Samuel to go and be still before God and listen. What a great mentor Eli was to Samuel! We should all be so fortunate to have this kind a mentor in our lives.
When Samuel was still before God, he heard God. While hiding in a rock, Elijah was alone and quiet before God and heard Him. When Jesus wanted to talk with God, He left the crowds and the disciples to be alone and hear from God. Have you noticed a theme? Getting away and being still before God is essential if you want to hear from Him. But there is also another clue in the story of Samuel. Samuel was willing to hear from God. It is obvious when we read Genesis that God created human beings to have fellowship with Him. Human beings alone are created to relate and respond to God.
So why do we seldom feel we can talk with God and anticipate a response from Him? I believe it’s a lack of understanding of who God is and who He created us to be. Note that I said God created us to be not to do. For years in my Christian life, I struggled with believing I would hear God when serving Him rather than when spending time alone with Him in my study. But just the opposite is true! I have heard God speak more clearly in my heart and mind when being still before Him with a desire to hear from Him than doing an activity for Don’t hear me say we shouldn’t actively serve God. Instead, hear me say we should actively be still before God before we serve Him.
Samuel went back to his quiet room and waited to hear God’s voice. When Samuel heard God speak to him, he immediately responded, “Speak, Lord, I’m listening!” We learn to pray by praying, and we learn to listen by listening. If you desire to find God, you will find Him. He’s not hiding from you. We may need to be still and shut out all the other voices so when God does speak we are in a position to hear Him. When our heart is seeking Him, we will hear even if He whispers. As we pray, we are guided into a deeper and more intimate relationship with our God who loves and cares for His children.
Further Reading 1 Samuel 3; Psalm 46:10; 1 Kings 19