Today’s Bible Story

SUNDAY 26 APRIL 2020

Prayer

In the next few weeks we are going to be thinking about prayer and how to do it!  In our story today, a boy called Samuel learns how be still and listen for God’s voice.

All the activities are at the bottom of this page.

Start by watching the story video.

You can also read the story in your bible. If you have a Bible you can find it in your full bible in 1 Samuel Chapter 3

1 Samuel 3

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.  The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.  Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the Lord called, “Samuel!”  And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord:  The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!”  And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

and to hear it read out loud!

How have you been keeping in touch with friends and family whilst on lockdown?  Maybe you’ve been on zoom, like us?!

Here we all are, trying to work it out and not all speak at the same time or mute each other by accident!

Maybe you’ve written someone an email, or sent a hug in the post?  However we choose to communicate, the important thing is that we DO IT, to keep our relationships strong and fresh, and to let people know that we love them and are thinking about them!

The same goes for our relationship with God, doesn’t it?  To keep it strong and fresh, we need to communicate – the bible calls it ‘prayer’.

So how can we pray well?

Pete Grieg is one of the leaders of a movement called 24/7 Prayer, so he’s done quite a lot of it over the years.  In his book ‘How to Pray’ he says this:  “TO START, WE MUST STOP”

Ok, what?

How can we start praying, by stopping?

Hmmmm….!

Have you ever played sleeping lions?  It’s a game invented by adults to keep children quiet and still for a few minutes, and when I was little I hated it!  I figured a game should be all noise and running about, like tag or stuck in the mud. Now I’m older (a lot older), I’m still not very good at sitting still for a long time.  I like doing – I’m not very good at stopping.  What about you?

In our story today, Samuel had been growing up as a helper in the tabernacle (a tent used as the temple), where he helped Eli, the old and partially sighted priest.

Eli had been showing Samuel how to DO lots of things – how to keep the tabernacle nice and clean, how to polish the lamp stands and plates ’til they shone, how to light the menorah candles and keep them lit all night long.

Eli had taught Samuel how to do, but he hadn’t yet taught Samuel something really important…. how to NOT DO.

How to stop and listen for God.

The thing is, sometimes in order to properly hear God’s voice, it’s good to be quiet and listen.  Our verse of the year is Psalm 46:10, and it starts “Be still,” which means stop doing, stop rushing around for a moment, stop filling every single second of your day with stuff (schoolworkxboxplayfightsbedroom tidyingwatchingfilmseatingtextingeatingagain…) and take a moment to “Be still and know that I am God.”

Unless we stop all the noise and listen, how are we going to hear from God and enjoy relationship with Him?

After Samuel popped up in his room a third time, Eli got the drift.  What did he tell Samuel to do?  “Go and lie down.”  In other words, be still.  “And if he calls you, say ‘speak Lord, for your servant is listening’.”

And Samuel’s relationship with the God of the universe began

Samuel went on to be God’s messenger his whole life, leading the country in battle, encouraging them in justice and holiness, and anointing the first two kings of Israel.  And all that came from that one moment of stillness.

I love that when Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray the Lord’s Prayer, he begins by saying “When you pray, go into your room, close the door”.

Matthew 6: 6-14

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.  And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  ‘This, then, is how you should pray:

‘“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

In other words, start by stopping.

Pause.

Your place of pause might not be a room or even sitting down;  remember we can pray anywhere, anytime – Jesus walked up hills to pray!

Whilst we’re stuck at home, what better time to practise being still?  Much of our normal rushing about routine is on pause right now anyway, so let’s use this moment!

In the next three weeks, we will move on from Samuel the king-maker, to see how three of Israel’s actual kings (David, Jehoshaphat and Josiah) prayed.

Right now though, I hope that as you go through the activities in the Deeper Zones you will find your own ways to be still and, like Samuel, to grow your relationship with the God of the universe!!

So let’s take a deeper look at this story!

Which zone will you choose today?

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