One of the hardest things in prayer is to listen. It is really easy to tell God what we want and what we think God should do but it is really hard to listen to what God might be saying to us. In today’s reading Samuel hears the call of God but mistakes it for his master Eli.
It can be hard to know how to listen to and make sense of the news let alone to God in prayer! An increasingly digital world should have given us access to so much information from so many viewpoints yet it seems that we mostly live in our echo chambers listening to the views that reflect our own. It can be hard work to hear the views of others. This week I have found myself reading a lot of commentary on the events in the Capitol Building in the USA on the 6th January. The raw footage of what happened is available on the net. The opinions of those who truly believe that the election of Joe Biden was fraudulent can be read or viewed. It is easy to dismiss others as wrong before we start to listen and that frames what we hear.
There is a great deal of wisdom in our reading for today when faced with uncertainty. Eli is a flawed man. His time as a leader is not covered in glory yet he recognises that God is speaking to Samuel. It would have been so easy to ignore the child who was kept waking him up. Although the word of God is rare at this time Eli trusts that it is God speaking and he encourages the child to listen. That takes humility and courage.
God could have had a message for Samuel about how Eli had failed yet Eli gives the child the permission to listen and the freedom to do that without someone else getting in the way. Flawed as he was Eli was a man of prayer and able to put his agenda to one side so that young Samuel could become the prophet who would speak truth to power.
Can we be more Eli?
There is hope that our current lockdown will be eased with the roll out of the vaccine. The world has changed. What will our calling be in this new world and how do we hear it? Time to look to our listening? Who knows where it will lead…