God is speaking. Are we listening? It isn’t as easy as we might think. At times, we are too busy defending or excusing ourselves. Other times we are listening to the wrong voices—hearing condemnation or criticism, rejection or put downs—voices that are not God’s at all, but echoes from our past haunting us.
God called the young boy Samuel in the middle of the night. You can read the story of his call in 1 Samuel 3. The priest Eli had grown old and comfortable. Eli was no longer listening to God. His sons, who were also priests, were too busy with their immoral passions and desires to listen to God. So, God was raising up a faithful priest who would do according to God’s heart and mind (1 Samuel 2:35). Samuel became that person.
We are told “the Word of the Lord was rare in those days, visions were not widespread” (1 Samuel 3:1). Samuel “did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7).
That is when Samuel heard God in the night. Three times Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. Three times he ran to Eli. But it wasn’t Eli. The fourth time, having been instructed by Eli, Samuel replies, “speak, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10) and God gave some taught news for Samuel to share about Eli and his wicked sons. We, too, can learn to know the Lord. We too can say, “speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.”
Here are some ways we can train our hearts to listen.
- Praying—asking God to give us His Spirit; to tune our hearts to His frequency—sifting through the voices and learning to pay attention to God’s voice. “My sheep hear My voice and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
- Reading—letting God speak to us through His Word, the Bible.
- Journaling—writing down the thoughts you have. That process helps you to clarify and refine what you are hearing and reading. It is a great way to “pay attention.”
- Don’t assume you have “20/20” hearing. Give place to doubts. Wrestle with your assumptions. This isn’t doubting God. It is clarifying and being discerning.
- Talking—tell other people what you are wrestling with. They can help you sift through what you are hearing and thinking. Verbalizing can help you sort through your thoughts as you try to understand what God is saying to you.
- Doing—putting into practice what God is telling you to do. Obedience to God’s revealed will is the best way to show God we are listening—paying attention.
“He who has ears, let him hear” Matthew 11:15.