When I began training my hunting dog, I kept him very close to me, issued only one command, and made sure to enforce the command, should he not understand or obey. Each time we had success, I would give him a little more freedom and then repeat the command, making sure he received a lot of affirmation and praise for his compliance. These days I can let him loose in the woodlands and be assured that all I have to do is call his name and then give a hand signal and he will do as I tell him without delay—most of the time at least! He hears my voice, he is listening all the time for it, and he wants to obey because he trusts me.

Samuel was close to God. He lived in the temple. He was gently urged to listen in the quietness of the night, when there were no distractions (1 Samuel 3:9). He was encouraged by someone who recognized the signs that God was reaching out to him, even when Samuel himself did not understand. The command to listen was repeated with patience, and there was no rebuke for not understanding who was talking to him (1 Samuel 3:10). God was preparing a man to be His mouthpiece. Later, as Samuel grew up, he could hear God’s voice easily and everyone knew he was a prophet of God. God prepared His man well for the task that lay ahead (1 Samuel 3:11).

We often worry as to whether we can hear from God or whether we’ve heard correctly. To hear God’s voice includes praying for His guidance and seeking the wisdom found in Scripture. We don’t need to sharpen our ears, but to exercise faith and trust. He’s provided all we need to follow Him in obedience. As Peter wrote, “God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3). May we listen for His voice today.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 4:23-37