Let’s think about approaching the Bible purposefully, expectantly, and prayerfully. Christians study the Scriptures not just individually but also corporately to learn more about God and His ways. Underlying this simple concept is a big challenge. To gather biblical knowledge with purpose means determining in our heart to obey what we hear. “Teach me, Lord, the way of your decrees, that I may follow it to the end.” (Ps. 119:33). And to do so expectantly means we believe that the Lord is going to speak specifically to us. “Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.” (Ps. 25:4). Sermons, Sunday school lessons, and quiet times on our own are all things to be anticipated. God uses these to build us up, strengthen us, or offer us comfort—He certainly makes listening to Him worthwhile. And obedience is the only proper response to this kind of personal attention.
Approaching the reading of Scripture prayerfully prepares our hearts to listen well and ushers in an attitude of purpose and expectancy. Today’s passage (1 Samuel 3:1-10) tells the story of young Samuel’s first encounter with God. The priest Eli gives the boy valuable advice—that when the Lord calls, he should say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (v. 9). Pray those simple words with conviction before you open your Bible, and you will hear God more clearly.
If you want to experience God working in your life, come to Scripture with a prayerful, expectant, purpose-filled attitude. The mourner will be comforted. The weary will gain strength. Those convicted of their sin will repent and know peace. All will sense joy. Recognize what a gift God’s Word is.