In I Samuel 3:1, the spiritual environment surrounding God's people had eroded and it was due to several factors. Things had become sleepy. Those who were supposed to be looking out for God's people had let some things slip to the extent that people were effected. There was scandal, and in some cases, those that should have known better were thumbing their nose at God. (I Samuel 2:12-25).
Samuel, as a young boy, grew up in the middle of all of it:
And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. I Samuel 3:1Samuel was committed to God. God never forces anyone to live for him. Everyone has a choice. God will work with those who love him. He knew Samuel's heart. The word was costly and rare in those days. Open vision or revelation involves hearing from God. Things were not too hot spiritually. God spoke to Samuel. He wasn't familiar with receiving revelation from God and thought Eli was calling him:
4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. I Samuel 3:4-5This happened 2 more times and finally Eli figured out what was happening:
And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. I Samuel 3: 8b-9aGod had someone who would listen in Samuel:
And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. I Samuel 3:11God was going to shake things up. Samuel was established as a prophet (someone who speaks for God) as God let none of his words 'fall to the ground' (or fail) I Samuel 3:19
In the New Testament, under the new covenant with God through Jesus Christ, every believer has the capacity to hear from God. It is a tool built into the holy spirit package. The how-to of it is as simple as what Eli told Samuel. Most of the time it is a 'still small voice' in our heart. Some people call it a nudge. It is a live and powerful thought. It is a nudge that produces peaceful godly results and flows with the written word to produce the results desired by God.