(Photo: The Rock Church)
These days almost every phone has Caller ID on it. You also might identify your caller with a ringtone or a tune or a photo. Whatever the cool feature you use, Caller ID helps you decide whether or not to answer the call.
How do you know when God is calling?
How do you decide whether to take the call? How often do you actually answer Him?
God is speaking to you every single day – all day. He doesn't use a fancy ringtone or yell or blast you with a megaphone, though. His call is a still small voice you need to learn to listen for, as Elijah did in 1 Kings 19:11-13.
His quiet voice comes in many ways – through His Word, through circumstances, through your conscience, and through creation.
Prepare with expectation to hear the voice of God. 1 Samuel 3:9-10
As a boy, Samuel hears the voice of God but believes his master, the prophet Eli, is calling him. Eli finally perceives that God is calling Samuel and so instructs him to go back to his "place" and wait for the voice again, ready with this response: "Speak, for your servant hears."
When you pray, have the expectation that God will speak to you. Be in your "place" – a quiet spot designated for prayer – and be prepared. Have a pen and paper ready to write down what you hear. Tell God, "I'm not going to move until I hear you!"
Respond to His voice immediately. 1 Samuel 3:4
When Samuel first thinks he hears Eli calling him, he stands up and runs to Eli. When you respond to God wholeheartedly, He is able to guide and direct you. Imagine trying to turn a car's steering wheel when it is parked. The car must be moving to be guided, and the same is true for you.
Respond consistently. 1 Samuel 3:6
The Lord calls Samuel repeatedly until Samuel answers properly. Then God tells him more.
He calls you repeatedly and He wants to know that He can count on you to be consistent and reliable. Many Christians serve for a while, pray for a while, respond for a while, but then stop. When you develop consistency in the little things, God will bless you and entrust you with more responsibility.
Respond persistently. 1 Samuel 3:8
God calls Samuel a third time. Now Eli perceives that it is the Lord calling Samuel and therefore instructs Samuel to answer God directly.
Samuel keeps getting up every time he hears the voice, even though he likely is starting to feel irritated. God is not a genie to instantly gratify your whims. You have to press Him persistently. God will allow obedience obstacles to enter your life and sometimes God uses pain to test how much you trust him and how persistent you will be in pursuing Him.
As you seek God, He purifies you, redirects your prayers, reshapes your thinking, and – once you are ready – gives you what you really need. See James 5:16!
Respond as a humble servant. 1 Samuel 3:10-11
Remember, God will never ask you to do something that you won't be glad of having done in the end.
The next time the Lord calls, Samuel answers, "Speak, for your servant hears." Then the Lord responds with a prophetic message. God did not tell him the important information until he answered correctly.
We need to be willing to answer God obediently, whatever He asks. Remember, God made you and He knows what is best for you.
So turn off your smart phone for a while and practice responding to God's voice every day. Find a place where you listen to God and come prepared with your Bible, a pen, and paper. Need a place to start? Proverbs has 31 chapters and there are 31 days in a month, so read the chapter that pertains to that day's date.