Summary: Prayer is as much about listening as it is about talking to God. This message encourges members of the congregation to participate in small prayer groups.
God Still Speaks Today
In First Samuel we find the people of Israel have gone back to their old ways of being indifferent toward their Creator. Their leader at the time was the high priest, Eli, an old man whose eyesight has begun to go bad. Unless something changes Eli will turn his priestly leadership over to his ungodly, rebellious sons, Hophni, Phinehas.
As it turns out the hope of Israel was in the hand of a praying woman, Hannah. She was a regular visitor to the temple and spent most of her time praying. Her prayers focused upon praying for a son. She vowed to the Lord that if God answered her request she would give her son back to the Lord to serve him the rest of his life.
God answered her prayers and gave Hannah a son. She called her son “Samuel,” which means, “Asked of God.” Soon after her son was weaned she fulfilled her promise by giving Samuel to Eli to serve him in the Tabernacle.
I Samuel 3:1-4 we read: “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel was serving the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon. One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had just gone to bed. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Suddenly, the Lord called out, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Samuel answered, “Yes,” Who is it?” He jumped up and ran to Eli. He woke up Eli and said, “Here I am. What do you need?”
Three times Samuel heard someone calling his name and each time he ran to Eli. The third time Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling Samuel so he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, “Yes, Lord, your servant is listening.”
We know that from the beginning of creator God spoke to various people. He spoke to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. God spoke to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses.
But does God still speak today? If God does speak today how does He speak? Have you heard God speaking lately?
When Samuel answered the Lord that he was listening God spoke to him and revealed to him what was about to happen. They were words of warning.
I Samuel 3:11-14 - “Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carryout all my threats against Eli and his family. I have warned him continually that judgment is coming for his family, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”
The next day Eli pressured Samuel to tell him the revelation form God. Samuel could have taken immediate action, but continued to allow his sons to go about their evil ways.
The main theme of this message is on “Listening to God speak”, but I want to take a sidebar on the theme and make a few comments about the importance of discipline in the home. Proverbs 23:13-14 “Don’t fail to correct your children. They won’t die if you span them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”
Proverbs 19:18 “Discipline your children while there is still hope. If you don’t you will ruin their lives.” (NLT)
“Discipline your children while you shall have the chance; indulging them destroys them.” (Message)
Discipline correctly given is not brutal and harmful. Giving discipline when angry is not healthy. When discipline is given without restraint the result can damage a child’s heart and soul. Discipline is always given in love. Without any discipline there is no love.
In our family of with four children we found that each one needed different levels of discipline. When our children were young we found that a swat on their behind got their attention. As they got older taking away privileges were the most helpful. Setting up boundaries demonstrates a parent’s love.
Before applying discipline make sure you have the big picture. Consistency and follow-through are needed when applying discipline in the home.
Eli participated in his son’s behavior. He got fat from the food his sons had stolen form the altar. Eli excused himself from the sins of his sons while eating stolen meat from the altar.
Samuel heard God speak because he listened. God does speak, are you listening?
Prayer is as much about listening as it is about talking to God.
A.W. Tozer in his book, The Pursuit of God, explains the value of praying:
Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my