Voice recognition software is the bane of my life. Whenever I reach an answering service that requires me to speak my requests, I know I am doomed. My British accent inevitably stumps the machine: “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand your response. Let’s try again.” Many times I have tried to confirm a flight to London and been taken down a rabbit trail of alternative destinations. “I think you said Leningrad.”
The best software has the capacity to improve its performance with use. Unfortunately, English accents still trip up American computers.
Our ability to recognize God’s voice also follows a learning curve. However, God has made it easy enough for children to hear Him, perhaps easier than adults. Every child of God should expect to hear the Father’s voice. Samuel needed a little help from the high priest, Eli.
It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (1 Sam. 3:2-9)
Samuel’s ear was not yet attuned to God, so he had to learn how to hear the voice of God. Thankfully, Eli still had wisdom to know what was happening to Samuel and sent him back to bed with simple advice. Hearing God’s voice does not require complex or taxing preparations.
All Samuel had to do was relax in his temple room and wait for God. In our case anywhere with few distractions will do.
Being ready to respond is important too. Verse 9 uses the active continuous present tense, “is listening,” rather than a simple present, “listens,” or a passive, “hears.” Samuel was alert to all God had to say; he recorded God’s message in the verses that follow and he obeyed by relating it to Eli.
Learning to listen prepared Samuel for one of the most fulfilled lives in the Bible and it will do the same for us.
Do you know someone who wants to learn how to hear the voice of God? Please share Bible Maturity with them.