“The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up 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 your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” 1 Samuel 3:8-9 (NRSV)
If I want to hear from God, I must be willing to be still and wait on him. When Eli understood that it was God speaking, the first thing he told Samuel was to go back to his room, to be alone. We need regular doses of solitude and silence to be able to hear God’s voice in our frantic world. Otherwise there are is just too much competition. Eli also wisely told him to lie down. We need to be still, beginning with our bodies. Even more important is quieting our minds enough to listen. Go apart, be still, listen. It’s preparation for hearing from God.
Even Jesus needed time alone with God. How then do I think I can live or love without it? In solitude I find the inner stillness necessary to hear God speak. My restless heart becomes gentle, tender. I find I’m more able to be compassionate to those who suffer, for I’ve glimpsed that “but for the grace of God, there go I.” As Henri Nouwen wrote, “Compassion is the fruit of solitude and the basis of all ministry.”
Today’s prayer practice: Solitude
When was the last time you stepped apart from the crowd to be alone with God? What was it like? Were you able to clear the clutter in your mind? Find a window in your day today to try again. Ask God to meet you there, with no agenda other than to be with him. Seek the peace of his presence as you listen. As you seek to enter into the stillness with him, you might try praying Psalm 34, “for the Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.” Afterwards, journal about your prayer experience.