I am fond of sentence prayers that are easy to memorize and can be said in a pinch.
When my mind can come up with nothing to pray about, I simply go to one of my sentence prayers. Sometimes I say the Shema and sometimes I say the Jesus Prayer. Lately, I have been using another prayer, what Adam McHugh calls the Samuel Prayer.
The Samuel Prayer is simply saying the following, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
This prayer comes from a charming story in scripture where a young Samuel, who was learning under a haggard priest named Eli, kept hearing God speak to him but thought it was Eli calling him instead. Finally, Eli instructs Samuel to listen for the voice again and when he hears it to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
What I like about this prayer is that it helps me flex my spiritual listening muscles. Did you know that prayer is also about listening?
For some reason, I always approach prayer like I am pulling up to a drive thru window. I want to get all of my requests out and the less I have to hear back from the voice behind the speaker the better for everyone. But that is not all there is to prayer. McHugh says, “prayer without listening is not truly prayer.” He says that listening prayer is the only way we can adhere to Paul’s directive of “praying without ceasing.”
I also like the language used in the prayer. The use of the word “Lord” is an important reminder as is the word “servant.” My best approach to God is as a servant and that means I need to be listening and investing time into hearing what God may be saying to me.
What has been the result for me saying the Samuel Prayer? What have I heard God saying to me?
Sometimes nothing but many times I have been directed, been spoken to, and been reminded of great truths. What I hear is not always the most important thing. The simple act of listening is a way of cultivating my relationship to God.
Any good relationship includes a healthy amount of speaking and listening. If I am doing all of the talking in a relationship then I am guilty of selfishness, greed, and gluttony but if I seek to listen as much as I can then I have a better understanding of the heart of the person I am in relationship with.
Take the Samuel Prayer and use it throughout the day or take a few moments at a designated time and use the Samuel Prayer to help you listen for God. I can’t tell you the skies will open up or you will have a legendary life with God like Samuel experienced but I can tell you that you will possess a posture of listening and you will see the importance of not just talking to God but also listening. God will be delighted that you are listening to him and will give you rich moments with him.