There are two questions many of us get asked. One is, “Did you hear that?” The other is, “Are you listening to me?” There is a difference between the two. Hearing is an involuntary function. As long as your ears work, you hear things all the time whether your brain takes the time to interpret the sounds. Listening is a voluntary function. It requires that you pay attention. The brain is looking to understand the sounds and to make sense of them. There’s quite a difference between the two.
In I Samuel 3, Samuel was a boy and he was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the altar. He heard someone say his name, so he went to Eli the priest and said, “Here I am. Did you call me?” (NLT). Eli replied, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” When Samuel got back to bed, he heard his name called again. Three times this happened and all three times, Eli sent him back to bed. On the third time though, Eli figured it out.
Eli realized that Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord before. He instructed the boy to go back and respond should he hear the voice again. Verse 10 says, “And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.'” He had heard the Lords voice three times, but it wasn’t until he learned to listen that the Lord gave him a message.
I believe God is talking to you and me all the time. Many times we hear His voice involuntarily and we interpret it as a feeling inside of us as to what we should do. I believe it is critical for each one of us pause in our prayer time to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” God doesn’t just want us to hear His voice, He wants us to listen to what He’s saying to us and then to obey. It’s going to require that you listen purposefully and then block out the other sounds your brain involuntarily hears.