Speak To Me |03.03.24| Dangerous Prayers pt.2
Drew Williams   -  

1 Samuel 3

Pastor Drew Williams

When I was growing up, I was very talkative. You can just ask my mom, she’ll tell you that I was never guilty of being too quiet or shy. In fact, one of the biggest reasons I got in trouble when I was growing up was when I would be talking too much instead of listening.


And honestly, that’s still what gets me in trouble even now. I’m often uncomfortable with silence, so I’ll end up filling in any awkward pauses in a conversation with my own voice. But then I’m filling all the space, instead of listening and receiving what anyone else might be trying to say.


Have you ever done that? You’ve been too busy talking that you don’t realize you aren’t listening?


I’m sure that when we do that when we are talking with someone else, filling all the space with our own voice, they probably wonder why they are there and if they are even needed in the conversation.


And I wonder, don’t we often do the same thing with prayer? We’ve all been taught that prayer is a conversation with God, but don’t most of us treat it more like a monologue, where we are doing all the talking?


Well, last week, we began a series called “Dangerous Prayers,” where we are trying to learn more about this spiritual habit of prayer, not only to get a deeper connection to God through prayer, but also to learn how to pray the type of prayers that aren’t safe.


Because most of the prayers people pray are safe: “Be with us, bless this food.” Those are the types of prayers that don’t actually require us to trust God for anything. They’re safe. They don’t require us to grow or be stretched.


But we want to learn how to pray dangerous prayers that stretch us and grow us to be more like Jesus so that we can be transformed by him together, for others.



So open your Bibles to 1 Samuel chapter 3, which can be found on p192 of the OT in your black, seat-back Bibles. While you’re finding it, let me remind you of what led up to this point in the Bible.


After Israel was rescued from slavery in Egypt, they made a covenant with God at Mount Sinai and eventually came into the promised Land. Once there, Israel was SUPPOSED to be faithful to God and obey the covenant commands.


Before the book of Samuel, the book of Judges showed how Israel FAILED at that task of obeying God and living according to what he spoke to them. It was a time of moral chaos, and it showed Israel’s need for wise, faithful leaders and people who would LISTEN to God and follow his way of life.


So lets read together…


[1 Samuel 3:1-18]


[SLIDE 4] v1

Our story starts with Samuel, a young boy, probably around 12 years old, who lived with the priest and worked at the temple. The text tells us that “the word of the Lord was rare in those days,” which means there had been a long gap since priests and judges were receiving visions and missions from God to lead the people.


In fact, it makes me think of nowadays. It is really rare for anyone today to say “I have a word from the Lord.” And when someone does, it’s often met with confusion or suspicion or at the very least people won’t take it at face value.


[SLIDE 5] vv3-5

So Samuel is going to sleep, and he hears his name called, but he’s not expecting anything divine, so he assumes it was Eli his master. In fact, even after Eli says it wasn’t him, Samuel still assumes it’s Eli when he hears his name called two more times.


He wasn’t expecting a special message from God. He wasn’t willing to think that it was a supernatural voice. And I wonder how similar we are?


Do we miss God’s voice sometimes because we aren’t expecting it? Do we regularly hear commands, or nudges, or prompts from God in our hearts that we ignore?


[SLIDE 6] v7

So Samuel keeps going to Eli, saying “Here I am.” And I love the servant-hearted nature of this kid, who is still willingly running over to Eli, even after Eli is saying it’s not him. So either Eli is losing it, or he’s playing a trick on Samuel, but Samuel doesn’t change his response. He’s there, and he’s willing.


But our text tells us that he didn’t “know” the Lord yet. The word translated here means to know by experience, to be instructed, to recognize. So Samuel hadn’t been instructed to recognize God’s voice, God’s character, God’s moving yet.


God didn’t need Samuel to be super experienced or knowledgeable in order to speak to him. And I want you to hear that today: God can speak to ANYONE. He doesn’t need you to learn more or experience more before he can speak to you. He just needs you to listen.


[SLIDE 7] v9

And that’s exactly what he needed from Samuel. Eli finally is awake enough to figure out that the boy isn’t trying to prank him, that he’s probably hearing God call to him, so he gives him some instructions. Go, lie down, wait. IF God calls to you, ask him to speak to you. Listen to him.


[SLIDE 8] blank

“If he calls…” I had never noticed this before all the other times I’ve heard this story: God didn’t force his voice on Samuel. He didn’t force his instruction on Samuel. He called his name and he WAITED for a response.


Eli tells Samuel to go back, wait for the call again, and respond.


And this time around, the Lord COMES and STANDS THERE and calls out to Samuel. So this time, it’s not only a voice, but it’s also a vision. And Samuel doesn’t freak out, he doesn’t run off to Eli, he prays a dangerous prayer: Speak to Me.


[SLIDE 9] v10

“Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”


Isn’t this so cool? Samuel actually got to hear the voice of God. God called to him, and he listened and asked for him to speak whatever it was he wanted to speak.


The big problem was WHAT God spoke to Samuel, because it wasn’t easy to hear. But before we talk about what it was that God spoke, we need to play a quick round of Bible Trivia.


[SLIDE 10] blank

For this round of Bible Trivia, I want to ask this: out of all the times in the Bible that God speaks to someone, how many times was the assignment easy? If you guessed three times, you’re wrong, because it was NEVER an easy assignment!


Just think of the times that God spoke to people. Noah heard God tell him to build an ark. And I doubt that Noah knew what an ark was! “Build a big boat, the size of two football fields, because a flood is coming and I want you to save all the species of animals and help restart the human race.” No big deal.


Or think of Jonah. God told him to go to Ninevah, the most godless, violent city in the world at the time. “Go tell them they need to repent or die. Tell them they need Jesus. I know that they have a reputation for killing people they get annoyed with, but go do this thing I’m telling you.”


Or what about Mary, the mother of Jesus? She’s an unmarried teenager, and God tells her that she’s going to get miraculously pregnant to give birth to the Son of God. The main bummer is that everyone around her will assume the worst about her, and it could very well cost her life and all her relationships.


If you are willing to pray the dangerous prayer and ask God to speak to you, don’t be surprised when what God says is something that is convicting. It might startle you. It might stretch you. It might seem impossible or very uncomfortable.


Samuel heard the voice of God, and prayed, speak to me. And he DIDN’T hear God say, “Samuel, you get to give good news to every one of my people!”


He didn’t say, “Samuel, I’m giving you a sneak peek at your future: you get married to that cute girl you like in youth group, and you’re going to have two kids and a dog, and you’re going to make over 6 figures a year being a youtube influencer!


No, God told Samuel some shocking things about his priest, Eli, and the truths about how his sons sinned and turned away from God and even led other people away from God.


God says, “I’m going to bring judgment on him, and it won’t be pleasant.”


And Samuel, who is probably only 12, is the one God trusts to deliver this message and help make things right.


“Speak to me.” That’s a dangerous prayer. We shouldn’t ask God to speak to us if we don’t want to hear what he says.


[SLIDE 11] v15

And Samuel doesn’t go straight to Eli like he had the first three times. He lies there until morning because he’s afraid to tell Eli what he saw and heard.


And his fear is probably rightfully placed, because Eli scolds him and threatens him. The word of the Lord didn’t come to Eli, the priest. He’s probably hurt by that. He’s probably angry at Samuel for being the one to hear God.


[SLIDE 12] v18

But watch what happens…Samuel is transformed when he does what God told him to. He tells Eli everything. He isn’t afraid anymore.


God’s word transforms us when we respond. Up until the point that Samuel actually DID what God told him to, he was still afraid. He hadn’t been changed.


[SLIDE 13] blank

Receiving God’s word can INFORM us, but more information isn’t the point. Transformation is the point. And RESPONDING to God’s word is what transforms us.


Because we know that prayer is not just talking. It is also hearing and OBEYING. Jesus says in one of his most important teachings that the life of wisdom is when you hear his words and DO what he says. THAT’S when you’re like the wise man who built his house on the rock instead of the sand.


Hear and obey. Listen and respond. But that means we need to actually slow down to listen for God’s voice.


[SLIDE 14]

Because the truth is that God is always speaking. Are we willing to listen? God is always inviting. Are we willing to follow?


But we can only follow if we first hear him. So how do we learn to hear God’s voice?


Pastor Craig Groeschel from Life.Church give three steps to learning how to hear God’s voice: Be Still, Be Willing, and Be Ready.


[SLIDE 15] blank

First, we need to Be Still. One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 46:10. It’s actually up on the wall next door in the chapel. It tells us exactly how we can best experience God’s presence.


It doesn’t say, “Be anxious, be frantic, be too busy to stop, always be on the go…” No, it says, “Be STILL, and know that I am God.” Be Still.


But that’s not common for us. No, we normally fill every free moment we have. Raise your hand if in the last week, you spent an hour watching TV? Binging something on Netflix? Or Hulu? Or DisneyPlus?!


And that’s not just a young person thing. My grandmother, before she passed, was in her 80s and her favorite passtime at home was to spend hours on her computer, scrolling on facebook, playing her card games, and sending emails to people.


We fill our time with media, or we always have the radio on in the car, or we always have a trashy novel or two laying around the house to pick up whenever we have a spare moment.


But when was the last time you spent an hour being still so that you could quietly wait to hear God? And I don’t mean the last time you prayed, because we already talked about how most of us fill most of our prayer time with our own voice.


[SLIDE 16]

One of my favorite books on prayer says this, “Most of us pray so why then can’t we listen? It’s a skill most of us haven’t mastered or even learned. It’s hard to sit still when we are distracted or in pain. We are numb or we don’t really want to hear because we are afraid of what we might hear. We are afraid because it is too hard to trust a God we don’t see. In some traditions, it’s easier to talk fast and loud which can alleviate some worry but for some of us that seems to be the only way we can interact with God. Talking without listening is an anxiety-ridden expression that can bring us some momentary relief but no peace.” jj 18


[SLIDE 17] blank

If we want to begin to learn how to hear God’s voice, we need to learn how to be still. We need to learn how to turn down the volume of the rest of the world. For me personally, I know for a fact that I need to set aside the first moments of the day, and I can’t grab my phone until after I’ve spent time with God, because I WILL be distracted by some notification or some email or something else.


Even if I grab my phone to use the Bible app, I’ll be sucked in to something else, and before I know it, my mind is loud with all the noise and distractions of everything else. I will miss God’s voice.


And I haven’t ever heard an audible voice from God like Samuel did, but I know that God speaks to us. God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen.


God speaks through his Word. I can often be reading a passage of Scripture, and it is directing me, guiding me, correcting me. That’s God speaking to me.


God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen. God speaks through his people. Sometimes God speaks to me through my wife, Megan. Just the other day, I was having an off day, and I was less than respectful with the staff. That night, Megan talked me through it, pointing out that I needed to repent and apologize.


God speaks through his people. Maybe he’ll speak to you through a godly friend, or through a sermon. Maybe he’s speaking to you right now.


God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen. God can speak through circumstances, like getting a door closed to a job opportunity that gives clarity of a choice for your family. Or he’ll open a door for you to let you know that he’s inviting you to follow him as you step forward.


The first step to learning how to hear God’s voice is to be still. Sometimes, I’ll just ask God to bring to mind people that he’s prompting me to pray for. Inhale. Exhale. And then I’ll pray for the people he brings to mind. Or I’ll reach out to them later on, to let them know I was thinking of them. Often that leads to open doors that the Lord was preparing.


God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen. And the more we listen, the better we get at recognizing his voice. The first step is to be still.


The second step to learning how to hear God’s voice is to be willing. Instead of only bringing to God our long list of requests that we want him to do for us, what if we came to God with a blank page, willing to let him tell US what HE wants us to do?


Speak to me Lord, I’m listening. Show me my sins that I need to bring into your light. Show me how to love my husband who is far from God. Tell me how I’m supposed to use my gifts at church.


But if we’re going to ask God to speak to us, we need to be willing to do what he tells us to do. God is always inviting if we’re willing to follow.


[SLIDE 18]

I love how Chad Veach says it in his book on prayer, “If prayer rarely leads to action, you’re doing it wrong.” Worried 35


If we are asking God to speak to us, but then we aren’t willing to DO what it is he shows us, then we shouldn’t be surprised if we don’t hear anything new from God. It’s probably because we haven’t obeyed the thing he showed us last!


[SLIDE 19]

Pastor Craig says it this way: “Maybe [GOD] isn’t showing you what to do in the future because you haven’t done what he gave you to do in the past.”


To hear God’s voice when we pray the dangerous prayer, Speak to Me, we need to be still. We need to be willing. And we need to be ready.


[SLIDE 20] blank

Because when God speaks, it might not be what you want him to say. I don’t think Samuel knew what he was asking when he said, “speak to me, Lord.” I don’t think he wanted to hear what the Lord had to say.


God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen, but we need to be ready to hear something we might not want to hear.


He might be telling you to lead a life group. Even though you’re scared to death.


He might be telling you to get serious about radical generosity, starting with tithing 10% of your income to the work God is doing through our church. Or he might be telling you to sacrifice above and beyond that to help build his kingdom.


God is always speaking, so we need to be ready to hear hard things.


He might show you some area of sin in your life that you haven’t given to him yet.


He might tell you to go back to school or to change careers.


He might tell you to invite your boss to church. Or to invite that neighbor you always avoid.


He might tell you to forgive that person who betrayed you.


Are you ready to hear that? Are you willing to listen? Are you willing to be still so that you can learn to hear his voice?


God is always speaking if we’re willing to listen. And he doesn’t need us to learn more. He doesn’t need us to be qualified in any way.


Because God LOVES to work through the most unlikely people. God LOVES to work through unprepared people. God loves to bring his work through broken people.


And he’s inviting us to pray this dangerous prayer. We don’t HAVE to. But we GET to. We get to pray, “speak, Lord, I’m listening.”


We GET to have him put names an faces in our minds for us to pray for. We get to take action and reach out to the people he puts in our minds. We get to share the words of encouragement we get from reading the Word.


We get to grow and be stretched by being in community like life groups or Bible studies, where he speaks to us through the words of others.


We get to spend each and every day we have on this earth learning how to hear his voice, learning how to obey him, and learning how to share the good news of grace and love that we have received.


God is always speaking. Are you willing to listen?