“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.’” 1 Samuel 3:8,9
Hearing pertains to the physiological act of taking in words and other auditory stimuli with our ears. Listening, as my wife likes to remind me, means actually paying attention and seeking to understand what we hear.
While listening is important in our everyday life and relationships, it is even more important in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. As Charles Stanley says, “Listening to God is essential to walking with God.” It’s the first step of seeking to follow His ways and living a life of obedience. Jesus, our Good Shepherd, calls us to maintain a listening ear when He says, “My sheep know my voice; I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
If we’re not in the habit of pausing to listen for our Shepherd’s voice, we risk rushing ahead of Him or lagging behind. Worse still, we often keep Him at arm’s length, effectively saying, “I’ve got this, God. I’m going to stay in control. I’ll let you know when I need You.”
This is not how the Christian life is supposed to work.
In today’s key passage, Eli, the high priest, gives a young Samuel a seven-word prayer that provides a framework for listening to God’s voice: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9).
Imagine for a moment how different your day would look if you adopted this prayer as your own. What if you internalized these seven words and carried them with you into a variety of settings and scenarios? Think of their impact on your relationships at home, at work, or out in the community.
If you and I truly took these words to heart, they’d change us from the inside out, preventing His voice from going in one ear and out the other.
So, allow me to briefly unpack this beautiful prayer.
Speak – God’s voice is not dead. His Spirit still speaks today, inviting us into an ongoing, conversational relationship. To hear His voice, it is absolutely essential that we regularly read His Word. The Bible is one of the primary ways He speaks to His people. His voice will never contradict His written word.
Lord – We are not in charge of the universe, nor do we have authority over our lives. We live in perpetual surrender to His leadership.
For Your Servant – As servants, our lives don’t belong to us. We do what He calls us to do. We say what He wants us to say. We go where He wants us to go. Our listening is demonstrated by our obedience.
Is Listening – Listening isn’t an ‘every once in a while’ kind of thing, nor something we do only when we’re in crisis mode. Rather, we cultivate a continuous posture of listening for His voice in all situations and in every season of life.
I’ll be the first to admit that it can be difficult to listen and discern the voice of the Lord, especially amidst the hustle and bustle of life.
But by praying these seven words, at the very least, we demonstrate our desire to not only hear His voice but to listen and obey what He says.
Why not give it a try right now?
Make it personal by inserting your name into this powerful prayer.
“Speak, Lord, for your servant, ___________, is listening.”
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH