Listening to God

Today’s blog was written by Mary Anna Wu on prayer.

“…Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down again… The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening,’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:3-10

A few years ago, when I found myself battling insomnia for weeks on end, I was extremely challenged. I would start the night well, and somewhere around 2:30 a.m. my mind would activate and I’d spend the next several hours tossing and turning, miserable, and becoming increasingly distressed about my ability to function the following day. I prayed, “God, what is wrong with me? Please let me rest!” During this long season of sleeplessness, I couldn’t understand why God, who obviously created me with a need to sleep, wouldn’t help me get the rest I so desperately wanted. I learned that 3:30 a.m. is the stillest, most isolating time in the world. No other soul is around and if they are, they don’t want to talk at that hour.

Somewhere around this season, the Lord reminded me of the story of Samuel, where He spoke to the boy in the night. Could it be possible that I, like Samuel, was awake because the Lord was talking to ME? Up until this point in my life, I had generally viewed prayer as a one-sided conversation. I would do all the talking, expected that God was likely listening and at some point would make the events unfold that needed to happen. Sort of like business email: I expected to get a canned follow-up response later. But lying prostrate in the dark during this season, the thoughts of my heart, profound words of Scripture, personal conviction, and piercing, loving truth that can only come from God was blaring inside of me. “Oh, so I am awake at this time because You want to talk to me!” I realized. 

This was a game-changer for me. While I really wanted sleep badly, God finally had my attention. There was nowhere else for me to go, and now I knew to listen and ask questions about my anxious thoughts, my failures, circumstances with my family, and even the most confusing scriptures I had read. God responded to me at night with peaceful, coherent words into my heart. I would wrestle through my complaints against God and He would answer them with healing. Being so on-the-go during the daytime, I had not cultivated a way to listen. Too many voices impeded my hearing. But not in the middle of the night. At night, everything else was quiet but God. 

Is He speaking to you, too?


Lord, I don’t want to have just one-sided conversations with You. I want to hear what You are saying. Speak, for Your servant is listening.