1 Samuel 3 (New International Reader's Version)
1 The boy Samuel served the Lord under the direction of Eli. In those days the Lord didn't give many messages to his people. He didn't give them many visions.
2 One night Eli was lying down in his usual place. His eyes were becoming so weak he couldn't see very well. 3 Samuel was lying down in the Lord's house. That's where the ark of God was kept. The lamp of God was still burning. 4 The Lord called out to Samuel.
Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 He ran over to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." But Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back and lie down." So he went and lay down.
6 Again the Lord called out, "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." "My son," Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back and lie down."
7 Samuel didn't know the Lord yet. That's because the Lord still hadn't given him a message.
8 The Lord called out to Samuel for the third time. Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, "Here I am. You called out to me." Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down. If someone calls out to you again, say, 'Speak, Lord. I'm listening.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there. He called out, just as he had done the other times. He said, "Samuel! Samuel!"
Then Samuel replied, "Speak. I'm listening."
Have you had God call you? I mean really, has God ever called you? Have you ever heard His voice? Have you ever felt His presence? If you have, you know what I am asking. Many of us believe in God and Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior, yet say that we don't know if we have ever heard His voice. Or have we?
In the passage above we read about an encounter that Samuel, the prophet of God during the time of Israel's first king Saul, had when he was just a boy. Samuel was dedicated to the Lord's service at birth, bacause his mother Hannah had prayed earnestly for a son, and God found favor with her and answered her prayer. When he was old enough, he was given to serve in the Temple of God, under the instruction of Eli the high priest.
I believe that today's world is much like the time of Samuel, and it is easy to relate to the verse, "In those days the Lord didn't give many messages to his people. He didn't give them many visions." Most of the time we are far to busy to hear God speak to us, and for many, because the "cares of this world" have our attention, our hearts are hardened to the impressions of the Holy Spirit of God.
So what can we learn from this passage? First of all, God's call to Samuel was in response to the prayers of his mother before he was even born. Because his mother was faithful in prayer and in fulfilling her commitment she made to give her son to the service of the Lord, God appointed Samuel to be His messenger to the people of Israel when the time was right. When you have a burden or need that you need to hear from God for, you have to create the proper conditions for God's answer by preparing the way with prayer. These prayers need to be specific to the situation and you need to patiently wait for the Lord to answer you. He will in the proper time.
Next we need to understand that Samuel was called when he was in the quiet of the temple of the Lord. Because he was right with God and in the right circumstances, he was able to hear God's call. There is no way that God will hear our prayers or we can hear His answer unless we are in right standing with God. God is perfect and holy, and He cannot work in the presence of sin or our wrongdoing. If you want God to answer a specific prayer, you need to be sure you are in the right place with Him.
We should also note that God's calling is very personal. Eli could not hear the call, although he was in the same room that Samuel was in. This tells me that the call might not have been audible, or loud enough to be heard by others. Most of the time, God will speak to us through "impressions on our hearts", meaning that He places thoughts and feelings within us that we know are from Him. When He really wants us to listen, He will make those impressions very strong.
Lastly, we need to note that just because Samuel did not know that it was God calling, God did not quit calling out to Samuel. God was persistent in His call to Samuel, and when Samuel understood and was ready to listen, God proceeded with His message to Samuel. In our lives, God sometimes has to work the same way. Oftentimes He will call us, and because we are not ready to listen, we will not understand or hear what He is trying to tell us. It has often been said that if you hear something that you believe is from God, if it is confirmed three different ways or times, then you will know it is from God.
If you are earnest in prayerfully making your specific request, if you are in the right place with God, and if you are ready to get away from the distractions of the world and listen, He will be easy to hear.