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.”
(1 Samuel 3:1–10)
When we decide to follow Jesus, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us, send us to speak to certain people, and help us notice where God is already at work in the world. But we have to hear the Spirit to respond. And this takes practice and paying attention. In this passage, we read a beautiful example of how God whispered to Samuel and how Samuel trained himself to open his ears to God’s voice. Samuel’s words can be our words when we walk into work, a restaurant, or around our neighborhood—“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
- When was the last time you felt the Holy Spirit sending you to do something or say something? How did you respond?
- What most often gets in the way of you hearing the Spirit’s promptings? Are there circumstances or seasons in which you seem to hear from the Holy Spirit more often? What sets those times apart?
- Practice listening for the Holy Spirit. Sit quietly for two to three minutes and pray Samuel’s simple words: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” What did you hear?
God, thank you for your Holy Spirit and the way you speak to me. I long to grow in knowing and hearing your promptings. And I want to respond in faith and without fear. Open my ears and give me a heart that listens so I can join you in the work you’re doing in this world. Amen.