Study 3 THE PRAYER FOR GOD TO SPEAK
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: 1 Samuel 3: 3-10
It was a tremendous experience for Samuel when the Lord spoke to him and when he was led humbly to pray, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (verse 9). It is also a tremendous experience for us when we meet together with other Christians for worship, or when we come alone before God at the Throne of Grace. At such times there is a two-way traffic of words: first, we speak to the Lord and our hearts go out to Him in adoration, praise and thanksgiving. This worshipping of the Lord is the quiet and humble expression of our hearts as we sit in His presence and meditate upon His love and goodness. But not only do we speak to the Lord, the wonderful thing is that He speaks to us! - look up Acts 10:33. Whenever we draw near to God He speaks to us. To place the whole matter in right perspective, it is God who first speaks to us. He takes the initiative, and then we speak to Him. Look at this simple prayer of Samuel’s, “Speak, Lord; for your servant is listening”, and see what we learn from it:-
1. This prayer reveals a belief in the fact and an evidence of the fact that God does speak to His people.
Old Eli believed this, and Samuel proved this in his own experience. Three times Samuel thought Eli was calling him; then, at the old man’s word, he went back and prayed this wonderful prayer that God would speak to him, a prayer which is implicit with faith; Samuel believed that God did speak to people and would in fact speak to him. We are far removed from Samuel today but, thank God, He still speaks to His people! He does this by the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God. The important thing is - are we listening for His voice?
2. This prayer indicates a strong desire for God to speak.
When Samuel went before the Lord he said, “Speak, Lord…” He longed to hear God’s voice. What a great thing it is to hear what God has to say to us! We hear the voice of man so much. Have you a desire to hear God’s voice, to hear about His love for you (Romans 5:8); about His wondrous gift to you (Romans 6:23); about His salvation (Acts 4:12); about your acceptance before Him through faith in Christ (Ephesians 1:6); about your work and sport, leisure and home, about your future and His plan for your life, about Heaven and about eternity …? Have you a longing to hear His voice?
3. In this prayer we see the expectation that God will speak.
When Samuel lay down he expected that the Lord would say something to him. When you go to the House of God do you expect to hear the Lord’s voice? Do you say, in the words of David - look up Psalm 85:8? If you are expecting God to speak to you, you can be quite sure that He will not disappoint you. If you need guidance He will give it (Proverbs 3:5-6); if you need comfort, He will supply it (Isaiah 41:10); and if you require provision, He will provide for you (Philippians 4:19). Are you expecting Him to speak to you?
4. Samuel not only believed that God would speak, and desired and expected that He would do so, but he prayed that He would.
He prayed, ”Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” He said, ”I am waiting, Lord, waiting to hear your voice. Please speak to me!…”
A friend once said to me, ‘Pray that you may never get into any place where God is not able to speak to you, and where you are not able to hear His voice.’ What sort of a place is this, where God cannot speak and we cannot hear His voice? It is any place of disobedience, of conscious rebellion, of wilful sin, of refusal to do the will of God or to go in the way of God - look up Hebrews 12:25 and compare John 2:5.
5. This prayer contains the right attitude for one who wants to hear God’s voice.
What is the right attitude? It is one of humility. Samuel described himself as God’s ”servant”. This indicates his submission to the Lord. It tells us that he had a lowly heart. He had a child-like spirit (Matthew 11:25-26). It is possible to be too big, too important, too proud, to hear the voice of the Lord. It is when we get down low at Jesus’ feet in humility that we hear Him speak to us - look up Luke 10:39.
6. This prayer teaches us the importance of a recognition of the lordship of the One who speaks.
Samuel addressed God as the Lord. He said “Speak, Lord…” He recognised the sovereignty, the lordship of the One to whom he was praying. This shows us that Samuel was ready to obey God, and he did obey God. He waited for the Lord to speak; and when He spoke, because it was the Lord who spoke, he obeyed Him - compare 2 Samuel 15:15 and Acts 9:6. In Samuel’s case, submitting to the Lord meant conveying a message of judgment to Eli - see 1 Samuel 3:17-18.
7. What are the benefits, the results, of hearing God’s voice and doing His will?
In 1 Samuel 3:19 we find a three-fold answer:-
- (1) Growth in grace – “Samuel grew …” How did he grow? By hearing God speak through His Word. This is the way we grow (2 Peter 3:18).
- (2) The conscious presence of the Lord. We are told that ”the Lord was with Samuel”. If you are with someone and you never speak to that person or hear his voice, there is something wrong. But everything was right with Samuel, the Lord was with him - refer to 1 Samuel 3:21.
- (3) Usefulness in service. The Lord “let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground”.