Monday, May 18, 2009

Your Servant is Listening

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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 3:9 NIV

My cat amazes me. He has an incredible ability to concentrate on just one thing, blocking out all distractions. I’ve spotted him sitting on the window ledge, staring into the house, waiting for someone to walk by the window. Then he’ll submit his request with a meow, and we’ll let him in. He lingers in this concentration for quite some time, because he has no concept of time. He simply knows that eventually, someone will come and open the door. So, patiently, he waits.

How would it be if we prayed that way? If we approached God with single-minded determination to hear His voice? Instead, fill the air with our own words. We like the sound of our voice better than the quiet intonations of His in our hearts. We’re more comfortable with what we have to say than we are with what He has to say.

When God spoke to young Samuel, the boy had no idea whose voice it was. He thought it was his teacher Eli calling him. He asked Eli, and the old sage told him how to respond to God. “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

How would it be if, instead of filling the air with all that we want to say, we simply followed Eli’s advice? “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Can you imagine a more simple prayer?

First, this prayer acknowledges the relationship between servant and Lord. In your prayers, do you monopolize the time? Whoever dominates a conversation usually dominates a relationship. Are you really God’s servant, relating to your Lord in prayer? Or do you try to dominate your own prayer time?

Next, this prayer makes a request: “Speak.” We have been taught that praying is when talking to God. This is only partly true. Do we come to our prayer time, expecting God to speak to us? Samuel only wanted one thing from God. He didn’t ask God to heal anybody or provide anything or do a miracle. He simply wanted God to speak His heart. This attitude can radically transform your prayer life—to want to hear from God more than anything else. Is that what you want when you pray?

Finally, Samuel told God that he was listening. The truth is that God speaks to us all the time. We don’t hear because we’re usually not listening. We tell God what we want Him to hear, and then we say amen. Taking the time to sit and listen is a challenging discipline to begin, but it offers great rewards.

Oh, to be like my cat—sitting and waiting, watching for the door to open! Oh to have the simplicity of Samuel’s prayer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

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