Let’s start by defining prayer. It’s simple, isn’t it? Prayer is talking with God... not just talking to God. Prayer is a two-way conversation between us and our Creator. He hears us. And the Omnipresent God speaks to us, primarily through His written Word, but also by His Spirit, through other people and through circumstances that He orchestrates.
In the case of young Samuel, it was God that initiated the conversation. God called to Samuel four consecutive times (1 Samuel 3:4, 6, 8, 10). God awakened young Samuel in the night, and the first three times God called, Samuel mistook God’s voice, thinking that it was his mentor, Eli.
Why did God have to ring Samuel’s doorbell multiple times? Verse one gives us a hint. “In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread (1 Samuel 3:1). Following the death of Joshua, “another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10, CSB). After conquering Canaan, the Hebrews quickly turned their backs on God. It was during this spiritually dark period that Samuel was raised. Even “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, because the word of the Lordhad not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7, CSB).
Prior to God’s fourth call, Eli encouraged Samuel to be aware of God’s voice. Then “the Lord came, stood there, and called as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel responded, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ ” (1 Samuel 3:10, CSB).
Remember, prayer is the conversation between us and our God. Here, Samuel’s micro-prayer is “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, CSB). The young man had the spiritual insight to invite God to speak. He was ready to hear the message that God would share.
This simple encounter was just the beginning. “Samuel grew. The Lord was with him, and he fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied. All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there he revealed himself to Samuel by his word” (1 Samuel 3:19–21, CSB). Did you get that? God revealed Himself to Samuel, by “His Word!”
So, here’s the question for us. Are we listening? Have we invited God to fill our ears and our hearts with His Word?
God speaks to us through the Bible... God’s Word. It is living and active in our lives (Hebrews 4:12). Let me challenge you just as God is challenging me. Open up the Bible and study a passage of Scripture. Don’t just read it, but meditate on it and pray about its meaning and application for you today!
Could it be true that we are like Samuel? Is it possible that God has come calling, and we haven’t heard His voice? Is it true that our prayers are so one-sided that we have failed to give God opportunity to speak?
Let’s pray like Samuel. “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, CSB).
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor