Samuel was only a boy serving the Lord in the temple under Eli. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Samuel was asleep when God called out, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Yes? I’m here.” This happened a second and a third time. That’s when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So, Eli directed Samuel, “Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, God. I’m your servant, ready to listen.’” Samuel returned to his bed. Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, “Samuel! Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”(1 Samuel 3:1-10).
For us to be aware of God and spiritual things we need to learn how to listen. This essential art requires us to be able to tune out certain sounds and tune in to the various ways in which God might speak. Like young Samuel, we are in a learning process concerning distinguishing the voice of God from the many other sounds around us.
Most people these days can’t bear to turn off their mobile phones. Conse- quently, a never-ending variety of ring tones sounds (even in church!). There is another epidemic troubling our world and that is ‘ringanxiety’. With phones becoming like an extra limb sprouting from our ears, most people are in a constant state of telephone vigilance.
Our ears become attuned to certain sounds like the crying of a baby and the ringing of a phone. The vital thing is that we practise the discipline of silencing the familiar sounds and conditioning our ears to listen to the still, small voice of God. Pray repeatedly and reflectively the prayer of Samuel: “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” and then jot down some of your reflections.