By Pati Page
It is no small thing that the God of the universe who dwells above the heavens and has made the earth his footstool desires to commune with you. The same voice that broke through the void with creation and thunders through the ages is the same one who whispers into the heart of his child. We become as David, who pondered the magnificence of God’s intimacy and declared, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6).
And yet this God whose power can subdue tempests comes gentle as a dove and longs to be in communication with you. It takes my breath away to consider that the God who fills Heaven and earth has come to fill me with the knowledge of his presence.
We live in a world where communication has become more about personal expression than humble reception. We tweet it, text it, post it, update it, blog it. Our pace is fast, our time is limited, and our attention span is short. I wonder if we are even aware of the maze of obstacles that have hindered the ears of our soul from receiving freely the still small voice that calls. But there is a way to transcend the barriers we create. And there is someone who can show us how. His name is Samuel.
Growing up under the guardianship of Eli the priest, the young Samuel learned to be faithful and “ministered before the Lord” (1 Samuel 3:1). Samuel, however, was not practiced in hearing the Lord, for God had not yet revealed himself to Samuel. The night would come, though, when a voice would call out and the boy would learn how to respond with, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (v. 9).
Perhaps within this simple response there lies a precious lesson. Like Samuel, we can learn how to posture ourselves before God in a way that strengthens and deepens our worship and communion with him.
Speak, Lord: the Posture of Alignment
Prayer is an unbelievable gift in worship. It is direct access to the Father. It is you and me, on the heels of Jesus, breaking through the temporal and visible into the eternal and invisible. Our audience is the God of the universe.
I caught myself one day, thinking about the content of my prayers. How selfish I have become. Have you, like me, ever considered that prayer is not just flooding the corridors of Heaven with our supplications and petitions? Rather, prayer is making available a unique opportunity for the Father to unveil himself to the heart of his child. “Speak, Lord” is the intentional quieting of our soul and the invitation to our God to have complete access to us.
The posture of alignment is to leave everything of yourself behind and purposefully place your full and undistracted attention on God. When you and I come to him in this way, we are recognizing that he is our source of truth and wisdom. His thoughts are to be what we desire. It challenges our imagination to consider that God, by his Holy Spirit, desires to speak into our hearts and manifest his presence within us. He longs to be known and to be heard.
Do you hunger for him in this way? Are his concerns your concerns? Oh, dear one, be as Mary, “who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” (Luke 10:39). Make time to go to him without pretense or petition and just listen.
Your Servant: the Posture of Humility and Submission
After Jesus’ emotional battle in the garden, the quiet resolve, “not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42), took center stage. Jesus had continually taught his disciples that he did nothing of his own initiative but only what his Father commanded. The cross became the pinnacle demonstration of his surrendered will.
In the book of Philippians we learn that Jesus emptied himself to become a bondservant and was obedient to the point of death. He laid aside his heavenly glory to become a humble servant. Hold his example dear to your heart, for in this is the key to deep and lasting spiritual growth (Philippians 2:7, 8).
The posture of humility and submission is the recognition that I am not my own. I belong to someone. It is to place myself in the appropriate relationship with my Father as his possession.
Do you view yourself as a child of God whose sole focus is to serve his purposes? Oh, dear one, because we have been bought with a price, our greatest desire should be to place ourselves completely at his disposal. How it must please the Father when his child comes to him, completely surrendered to his will.
In a world where so much of the talk and teaching is about our personal pursuits, goals, and dreams, it takes humility to subdue our fleshly desires in order to pursue the purposes of God. I am learning, though, that what feels like a tug of war with the flesh soon turns to the purest of joys when surrender has its way. Temporal pursuits can never satisfy the eternal rewards of serving him. If we make humility our wreath and submission our necklace and offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice, a life of worship will be his glory and our reward (Romans 12:1).
Is Listening: the Posture of Commitment
You can see it on their faces. You find the courage to share something personal, but it is met with wandering eyes or a blank look. You have lost their attention. It hurts, doesn’t it, when we make ourselves vulnerable only to have our most precious thoughts carelessly received? I wonder how often the Father sees the same blank look on us when he begins to open up a precious, golden nugget of truth.
Listening means to be deliberate. It takes work. It requires a posture of commitment that is a willful determination to hear and to heed. I have caught myself many times searching the Scriptures for God’s benefits, promises, and blessings while skimming past his instructions and warnings.
When we go to him through his holy Scriptures, we need to be prepared to listen with obedience. This is where the chiseling, shaping, and rebuilding of character begins. This is the place of encouragement, hope, and eternal vision that beckons us to press on. True transformation takes place in the classroom of his Holy Spirit as he reveals the character of God against the backdrop of our sinful condition.
So much of our time is spent pealing through the Scriptures with a self-motivated search for answers or direction, when the Father dearly wants to use his Word to teach us about himself. Through his Word he wants to conform us to the character of Jesus. Many times after concluding his teaching, Jesus would issue the challenge: “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear” (Luke 14:35). A life of worship is a life of learning how to listen with a committed and obedient heart.
Worshipping Through Prayer: a Lifelong Journey
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). This was the verbal key that unlocked a lifelong journey of faith and obedience for Samuel. It marked the beginning of his calling as a prophet.
It is interesting to note that the message from God that came to the boy that night included hard words of judgment upon Eli. Samuel did not want to tell Eli what God had said to him, but he did. Samuel proved himself faithful to the responsibility of receiving God’s message.
How can we prove ourselves faithful? One way is to turn our prayers into an act of worship that aligns ourselves with God in humble submission and intentional obedience. Consider him who is Creator of the heavens and the earth, who commands the armies of Heaven and rules the nations of the world. He who is beyond comprehension desires to commune with you.
I pray that in your next quiet time with the Lord, when you open your Bible and prayerfully whisper, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” that he will flood your heart and mind with his presence. The sweetness of Christ will be your reward. May your prayer closet become your sanctuary of worship.
Pati Page is a freelanace writer in Bargersville, Indiana.
Interacting with God
Sometimes we worship how someone else worships or how we think people should worship instead of worshipping in ways best suited to how God made us.
In the field of education, Howard Gardner described eight ways that people learn and express themselves: bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, logical-mathematical, musical, naturalistic, verbal-linguistic, and visual-spatial.
Take this quiz to see which of the areas you’re strongest in; then find ways to incorporate that style into your personal worship of God.