As parents, we are entrusted with the spiritual care of the children God has blessed us with. This not only begins at home but also requires that we build up a child in the way they should go through the community of a church and create opportunities for them to practice hearing the authentic voice of God.
So how do we begin?
Hearing God’s Voice in Serving
“Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest.”
1 Samuel 2:11, NKJV
This verse so powerfully states that Samuel, at a very young age, discovered his foundation by serving God. Parents, we must help our children find a place to minister to the Lord in the house of the Lord, no matter how young.
As a small child, my mother was the first to introduce me to the First Baptist Church of Glenarden. She loved to share my story as a young boy and how I was adamant about not going to church because the building was raggedy. However, little did I know this church was where I would find my beginnings, which held my destiny and a future as the senior pastor.
How are you being intentional in ministering to the Lord? And how are you encouraging your child to serve Him? Our outward service to God and His house is an expression of our gratitude for all He has done.
Are you thankful? Then, make it a priority for your family to serve the Lord!
Learning the Voice of God
“Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.”
1 Samuel 3:1, NKJV
Serving the Lord is a journey and also a lifestyle.
It is important to note that in Chapter 3, we don’t see Samuel as a child but as a boy. This is significant because he is now considered an adolescent, growing in age, in the house of the Lord.
Many of you know it can be hard to get teenagers to church. However, there is no other place they should be. As a church community, may we team up with the parents of our congregation and help our children learn how God operates, empowering them to be obedient to God in their own lives.
Each relationship with God looks different and starts in different seasons of life.
If you are an adult just now coming to the Lord, that is okay. The great news of Jesus is that you aren’t required to start your faith in childhood. Your yes is enough, and His mercies are new every morning.
Wherever you are at is an excellent place to begin.
God Speaks to Our Youth
“And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, ‘Here I am!’ So he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ And he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ And he went to lay down. Then the LORD called yet again, ‘Samuel!’ So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ He answered, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD revealed to him.) And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you did call me.’ Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore, Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for your servant hears!’”
1 Sam. 3:2-10, NKJV
Initially, Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God; he thought Eli was calling him. However, after hearing his name called multiple times and Samuel running straight to Eli, Eli had a revelation: it was the voice of God calling Samuel!
You see, God is always speaking wherever we are, but when we practice listening to God’s voice in the church, we have access to leaders who can come alongside us and mentor us in the process.
How Do I Know When I’ve Heard the Voice of God?
The most important thing about listening to God’s voice is that He is continually working to ordain your steps.
If you don’t quite feel like you are hearing from God, it’s not because He isn’t speaking. It could be that you don’t know how to recognize His voice.
He orders our steps, guides our words and responses, and tells us what is next. And in doing so, He proves that He is alive and well and loves and cares about us and our future!
So, how do you know when God is talking to you?
God’s Voice is Repetitive
Often, the voice we hear is our own thinking, what we had for dinner the night before, or most usually, the devil.
I can’t decipher which is which for you, but I can tell you that I have learned that God has no problem repeating Himself and usually does so multiple times. Throughout Scripture, we can read verses repeated over and over. You can read entire chapters repeated again and again. God is willing to speak to us, and because of our hard-headedness, it is most frequently a repetitive message.
Saints, can I encourage you? Please steer clear of making life-altering decisions based on something you have heard only once. (Especially when it comes to making your current partner your spouse!)
If you are unsure whether something is from God or elsewhere, ask God for a heart to listen to what He wants to say to you. Then, pay attention to any themes or repetitive commands.
Be Aware of What You Hear
It is common for someone to approach me after any given Sunday service and say, “Pastor, that message was just for me!” I am usually not surprised (but also edified) because, throughout the week, God tells me how I can minister to my congregation. God always knows what each person needs to hear, and if we are willing to be conduits of His voice and heart, lives will be changed.
This is how God communicates with me, and I trust it is His voice only because I remain aware and vigilant about what I am hearing. If God is speaking consistently over the course of some time, you can lean heavily on the fact that it is He who is speaking.
Has God been calling you to get saved?
Has He invited you out of a bad habit you can’t seem to let go?
Is His voice prompting you to make a change in your life?
I encourage you to lean in and ask God to speak. Then, be intentional about slowing down to listen. The more you practice, the more second nature it will become. And as we become skilled in listening to the Lord, we can help others learn to do the same, no matter where they are at.