Most times in prayer, we just need to speak out what’s on our minds and hearts. Other times, we do really want to hear God speak to us. For a student who’s confused on choosing a school, sweethearts contemplating marriage, a parent who’s so worried for a sick child, an entrepreneur considering a new risk, hearing from God becomes very important.
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So I would be picking an incident from the Bible that may help you listen. It’s an account from the life of Samuel, recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 3, and it offers 5 helpful tips for hearing from God.
TIPS ON HOW TO HEAR FROM GOD
Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli (1 Samuel 3:1, NIV).
Notice that God did not speak to the grown-up priest, Eli, nor spoke to the priest’s haughty sons or anyone else. Just to “Samuel”. The Bible says that: God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6, NIV).
It is a grace to hear God’s voice. So if you want to hear God’s voice, try and humble yourself.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could hardly see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God is to yet go out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was located. Then the Lord called upon Samuel (1 Samuel 3:2-4, NIV).
God spoke to Samuel when he was lying down. I doubt if its incidental. Do you want to hear God’s voice? Then be quiet.
Get into God’s presence.
Did you notice where Samuel “was lying down?”
Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord which can be seen as the church, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called upon Samuel in (1 Samuel 3:3-4, NIV).
Samuel’s mother had already dedicated him to the service of God, so he was already in the temple. But the account says more. He was “where the ark of God was.” That is, he was in the place of God’s presence at that point.
You might think church service is a perfect place for the presence of God. But then it’s far from the only place to get into God’s presence. Some people have a “prayer closet” where they spend some time with God. For others it’s a city park or a forest path. For some, it’s not even a place, but a song, a silence, a state of mind if possible. If you wish to hear from God, then always be in God’s presence.
Now in verses 4-8 of the story relate to how God spoke repeatedly to Samuel, even calling to him by name. But then Samuel was slow to catch on at first. It’s likely to be the same with you. But notice verse 9 that says
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 (1 Samuel 3:9, NIV).
Though Eli was not the one that was hearing God’s voice, he nevertheless gave wise counsel to Samuel. If you believe God is speaking, but you’re not really sure, go to someone you respect so much, someone who knows God well, and someone who is spiritually mature and seek for counseling.
Exhibit the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord.”
So Samuel went and lay down in his place of rest. 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 3:9b-10, NIV).
It is one of my favorite and most frequent prayers. Oswald Chambers wrote: Exhibit the habit of saying, “Speak, Lord,” and life will become a romance. Every time circumstances press, just say, “Speak, Lord.”
When you face a decision, large or small: “Speak, Lord.”
When you tend to lack wisdom: “Speak, Lord.”
Whenever you open your mouth in prayer: “Speak, Lord.”
As you greet a new day: “Speak, Lord.”
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These are just the few ways in which you can confidently hear from God. Try to put this into practice, do well to share as received.