by Bruce Okkema
So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, `Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” I Samuel 3:8-10
It is often difficult to know when God is speaking to us. Does He speak to us audibly? Does He speak to us through visions? Does He speak to us through our hearts and feelings? Does He speak to us through scripture? Does He speak to us through other people? Yes. Of course, if we are to hear anyone speak, we have to listen, which also means we have to stop talking occasionally.
Imagine a “conversation” in which you would go to someone and say, “Hi. Here’s how I am feeling. I want this and this and this. I don’t know what to do about this. Please help me with this, this, and that. Thank you for this. Talk to you later.” After this great conversation, you turn around, walk away, and go about your business. Would it be safe to expect that most people would be either offended or hurt by that? Does this sound too close to the way we pray sometimes?
Our private prayers and quiet times with the Lord are to be communion with Him — conversations with Him. By prayer and through the study of His Word we come to know Him. Just like your earthly father wants you to tell him how much you love him, what you are thinking about, what you are worried about, and what you need, he wants to tell you how much he loves you, and what he thinks you should do, and how he wants to help you. I think this is what God wants our conversations with Him to be like.
He is not usually going to speak to us like He did to Samuel, but if you will take the posture of honestly listening to the Lord, and if you are willing to take the time to search out His will, at some point he will make it clear to you. In the meantime keep praying and keep listening!