On Sunday we heard the story of God calling the boy Samuel. If you don’t know it, you can read it here.
As preachers love to point out, Eli told Samuel to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” but so often we get it the wrong way round and say, “Listen, Lord, your servant is speaking!” We think of prayer as telling God what we want him to do and, often, how we want him to do it!
Of course it is absolutely right that we do share our cares and concerns with God and ask his help for ourselves and others. But we need the other side of the conversation as well; we need to keep quiet and let God get a word in.
Try finding a short time (10 minutes is a good start, 20 minutes even better! ) in which you settle quietly and say “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Let go of preconceived expectations and notice what happens. It’s not likely there will be a clap of thunder and words you can hear but notice what phrase, thought, idea, image, feeling, is gently, and perhaps surprisingly, just ‘there’. Don’t be afraid to ask God about it, to carry on this two-way conversation.
If you have more time, you might like to read the story of Samuel and imagine you are there. What strikes you? How would you respond to that surprise calling of your name?