“Go … and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”
1 Samuel 3:9
In this story Samuel is just a boy, perhaps not yet a teenager. But he had been dedicated to God by someone who had sought God with all her heart: his mother, Hannah. Hannah had begged God for a child despite her persistent barrenness, and she had promised the Lord that if she was given a child, she would give him back to the Lord. Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel, and after she weaned him, she kept her promise and delivered Samuel to Eli, the priest, to be raised in the house of the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1; 2:26).
Then came that defining night when Samuel was lying on his bed, with the lamp of God still burning, and all was quiet. He heard a voice. Thinking it was Eli the priest, Samuel got up to see what Eli wanted. But Eli had not called, so Samuel returned to lie down. The voice called a second time. This time when Samuel got up to ask what he wanted, Eli realized what was happening. He gave Samuel instructions that have been cherished by God–seekers ever since.
Speak, Lord, I’m listening. Seeking God involves listening. It means waiting for his voice. It means reading the Bible with our ears as well as our eyes. It calls for cultivating big chunks of silence, in which all we do is simply sit in the presence of God, open to God–given impressions that come our way.
Father, I’m often so noisy. And sometimes I fear long periods of silence. Teach me to be still in your presence and simply to wait for you to whisper. In Christ’s name, Amen
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