“And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for thy servant hears.’” (1 Samuel 3:8-9)
Today, we continue the story of Hannah. God eventually blessed her with a child just as the Priest Eli had assured her. Hannah could have decided to stop praying altogether as some of us do when we are blessed but she remembered her vow and kept her word. She literally donated the boy Samuel to God.
Having been offered to God, Samuel had nowhere else to lay his head other than the place where the Ark of God was kept. It was here that God called him. Samuel was quiet enough to hear the voice of God clearly. Three times, he ran to Eli thinking it was Eli’s voice. Eli then understood what was happening and gave spiritual guidance to Samuel. When next he calls, say: “Speak Lord, for your servant, is listening.”
Two lessons we learn from this encounter are: 1. The importance of listening to God especially during prayer. Prayer should not just be all about informing God of our needs and problems as if He does not already know. Prayer is a relationship. It is a conversation. As we talk, we must listen. 2. The need to have a Spiritual Director. Like a good coach, your spiritual director challenges you, monitors your progress, motivates you and journeys with you until you become the best you can ever be.
In our Gospel passage, we see Jesus curing Simon’s mother-in-law who was sick with a fever. News of this went fast across the community and that night the whole town gathered about Simon’s door to receive their share of the healing bonanza. Jesus rose up very early the next morning and went to a lonely place to pray. Why did Jesus prefer a lonely place? He wanted a place quiet enough to hear God’s voice. What Jesus did is what we refer to as a retreat; leaving everything else behind to focus on the one thing necessary – God.
Again, there are two lessons we learn from Jesus in this passage: 1. The importance of personal prayer. You may pray in Church or with others. (Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there. Matthew 18:20). However, it is very important to create time to be alone with God. Switch off the phone, switch off the television. There will be time to respond to your calls or social media later. 2. For effective prayer, location matters. Jesus warned us against praying in street corners or in market places to attract the attention of others or give the impression of holiness. Find a place where you would not be distracted easily. Find a chapel you can visit regularly or create a lonely place in your home, your office or your store. Even if it is your closet, make out a clean spot where you can be alone with God.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, strengthen my prayer life. Amen.
Bible Study: 1 Sam. 3:1-10,19-20, Ps. 40:2,5,7-10, Mark 1:29-39).