Ask: Speak Lord, I’m Listening
It can be hard to find the confidence to believe that you can hear God’s voice. We get down on ourselves too much; we think, “Who am I to say I hear God?” That’s why discovering practical ways to value, recognize and steward God’s voice in your life is an invaluable part of your walk with Him.
Let’s look at the verses that describe Samuel hearing the voice of the Lord. 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NIV) explains: “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ But Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ So, he went and lay down. Again, the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ ‘My son,’ Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. A third time the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ 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. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.'”
One of the most important prayers we can pray is, “Speak Lord, I’m listening.” Let’s look at 1 Samuel 3:1 (NIV) again: “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare.” Notice that it says the word of the Lord was rare in those times. Now, the Lord always wants to communicate with us, so we know that it wasn’t that He didn’t want to communicate with His people. The issue was that His people simply stopped listening because they were living like those around them rather than seeking God’s voice in their lives. Judges 17:6b (ESV) says: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” We cannot allow that to happen to us, though the world we live in certainly encourages it.
- You must value it. Listening for God’s voice takes intentionality. We need to take time for it, make sacred space for it, and even pay a price for it. Matthew 21:12-14 (MSG) says: “Jesus went straight to the Temple and threw out everyone who had set up shop, buying and selling. He kicked over the tables of loan sharks and the stalls of dove merchants. He quoted this text: My house was designated a house of prayer; You have made it a hangout for thieves. Now there was room for the blind and crippled to get in. They came to Jesus and he healed them.”
- You must recognize it. You can hear the voice of God all day long, but if you don’t realize it’s Him, it isn’t going to have the impact it is meant to have. John 10:3-5 (AMP) says: “The doorkeeper opens [the gate] for this man, and the sheep hear his voice and pay attention to it. And [knowing that they listen] he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out [to pasture]. When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” God can speak to you in whispers, dreams and promptings just as often as He uses doors, other people, signs and wonders, our circumstances, and scripture (and this is not an exhaustive list). It is important to know the ways God reveals Himself to us so that we can recognise His voice when we hear it. Here’s something you need to be aware of: as a flower of Christ, you can hear God’s voice, even if you doubt it. You are a sheep and you can – and do – hear His voice. Learning to recognize God’s voice speaking to you is sometimes a process, but don’t lose heart. You do hear Him.
- You must steward it. God doesn’t speak to be heard, He speaks to be obeyed. Mark 4:23-25 (AMP) declares: “‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words.’ Then He said to them, ‘Pay attention to what you hear. By your own standard of measurement [that is, to the extent that you study spiritual truth and apply godly wisdom] it will be measured to you [and you will be given even greater ability to respond] —and more will be given to you besides. For whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a yearning for truth], even what he has will be taken away from him.'” Your decision to steward the word does not only affect you. God is a God of multiples; He has multiple plans going at once – it affects you but it will affect others, too. Samuel stewarded what God spoke to him and it affected not only an entire nation but all of history – Samuel anointed David as king and from David’s line we have Jesus, our Messiah. Imagine if Samuel had kept God’s voice to himself.
Appointments with God in order to hear His voice are never in vain, even if you don’t see it in the moment. Learning to value it, recognize it, and steward it can be a life-changing thing not only for you but everyone you touch, and God has so much He wants to say to you.