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. 9 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
My daughter and me have been having this ongoing discussion about how God communicates with human beings. She intimated that she has been asking God to speak to her for years and have not heard from Him yet. She concluded God does not want to talk to her. So, a few weeks ago, she asked me, “how do people know when God is talking to them?” She shared her frustration about not hearing from God for all these years.
Sadly, there are many people who feel the same way. They struggle to discern when the Almighty is talking to them. Consequently, they assume God does not care about them or does not want to talk to them. This is a lie from the devil. God does care and is always talking to us. The challenge is that many people cannot focus their spiritual ears so they can hear what the Lord is saying to them.
What are the requirements for hearing from God? First, the person must have a relationship with God. That does not mean God does not talk to non-believers. But because non-believers are not led by the Holy Spirit of God, their spiritual ears are not sensitized to the voice of God. Therefore, even when God is talking to them, they cannot recognize His voice. That relationship is cultivated through prayer and daily reading of the word of God. These two spiritual exercises are the primary ways that God communicate with people.
Secondly, the person must be willing to set aside specific time to hear from God. We live in a very busy world with so many distractions. Our attention span has been greatly impacted by social media, television, and all the other forms of entertainment available to us. One must be intentional about disconnecting from the world so they can connect with God and hear from Him. For example, waking up early in the morning to pray and meditate before doing anything else. Or, ending the day in prayer and meditation so as to hear from the Lord.
Thirdly, the person must be willing to listen. This seems simple, but it is not. Some people are too busy to hear what God is saying to them. Others are too worried, stressed, anxious or discouraged to discern the voice of God.
In today’s text, the young prophet Samuel could not discern the voice of God. Each time God spoke to Him, he thought it was the prophet Eli who was calling him. Samuel had never heard from God and was too young to discern the voice of God. But because he listened to Samuel, he was able to have a conversation with God.
At times, God will use other people (preachers, pastors, Bible study/Sunday school teachers, a best friend, parent, children, etc.) to speak to us. Indeed, God does not always communicate with us through some mystical mode. He is a practical God who meets us where we are. God often uses the person or people we trust the most to speak to us. He may use nature or one’s favorite movie or song.
I told my daughter that God is speaking to her through the conversations she and I have been having. I told her to read the Bible when she has a specific question for God. I encouraged her to hear more sermons and spend more time in prayer so as not to feel like God is not speaking to her. She was not fully convinced; and that’s okay because I know she now has a broader understanding of how God communicates with people. Prayerfully, she will be more open to hearing from the Lord from different sources.
Questions for Personal Reflection
How do you know when God is talking to you?
What are the most common forms of communication you get from God?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for pouring into my heart through your Holy Spirit. Please give me an obedient spirit and an ear that is tuned to the frequency of your voice so I can hear you at all times.