Advent Reflections 2023: Day 18

1 Samuel 3:1-9

My father’s answerphone message used to say, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening, or will do eventually!’ I wonder if we’re all a bit like that with God: keen to be God’s servant, publicly declaring our desire to do as God says. We want to be better people, obedient, serving. We pray, determined to respond to the call. ‘Speak, Lord! I am listening!’

But maybe we’re also busy bringing a list of things we’d like God to do. Maybe we’re busy chattering away about our day and how wonderful/ frustrating/exhilarating/miserable/dull it was. Maybe we run out of time. ‘Speak, Lord! I’d like to hear you!’ Perhaps our prayer life is being pushed aside, particularly as the days get busy with Christmas preparations, or family life intervenes, or because we’ve fallen out of the habit. ‘Speak, Lord! I’ll let you know when I’m free…’

It’s not always easy to distinguish God’s voice from the clamour of noises that surround us. We are easily swayed by the latest trends and persuasive advertising, or give way to peer pressure. Furthermore, most of the time we don’t expect to be hearing from God.

It was no different in Samuel’s time. Hearing the word of the Lord was rare. This partly explains why it wasn’t until Eli had been woken for the third time that he understood Samuel to be hearing the voice of God. Unexpected though it was, he knew God was calling. Eli was old, tired and asleep; Samuel was young and inexperienced. Nevertheless, God persisted in his call and – eventually – his servants heard him.

What is God saying to you? Allow time today to pray those words:
‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’

Catharine Hughes

Lord God, I give you this time. I open my hands to your Spirit; I open my heart to your Word. I set aside all the clutter of the day, and focus on you alone. Come, for I am ready. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.