Someone recently told me, “I don’t know why you have so many classical music CD’s. To me they all sound the same anyway!” But people who love this kind of music and are trained in listening can easily hear the differences in each piece and enjoy the depth of the music.
Proper listening and understanding always requires that we are familiar with the language we are listening to, whether it is the language of music, a foreign language or the language of an infant. And it is similar with hearing God’s voice. There are many ways of hearing God’s voice, the most straightforward, of course, being through the Bible. But we know there are more subtle ways as well, especially when it comes to hearing God’s voice in relation to a personal life question.
Sometimes it is not so easy to distinguish the voice of God from the many other voices that are seeking our attention. But it does not mean God’s voice is not recognisable. It is a question of practice, experience and having the right attitude. And it is a question of the strength of our relationship with Him.
God had to call three times before Eli, the experienced priest, was able to help Samuel. It seems that he himself did not expect to hear anything from God, at least he did not expect that God would want to directly talk to his young servant. Eli had been fulfilling a religious role but there was no true, living relationship with God. Only when Samuel came to him for the third time did he realise that it must be God that was speaking to the young boy, the God he knew from a time long past. Only then did he tell Samuel how to respond to God’s call: with willingness to hear and obey. “Speak, Lord, your servant hears” – this is the secret of communicating well with God.
When the child Samuel prayed, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” he opened his heart to hear God’s voice. Let us in the same child-like way listen to God and hear what He is saying to us individually and as a community whilst we are praying for each other.
With warmest greetings and blessings,
International Director, Scripture Union International