Samuel the priest played a pivotal role in the nation of Israel. He had a miraculous birth (1 Sam. 1:20), a praying mother who dedicated him to priestly service (1 Sam. 1:27-28), a divine calling into ministry (1 Sam. 3:10), and a special role in the history of the nation to guide the people’s hearts back to the LORD (1 Sam. 7:12).
For all the ways he pointed the people to God, the nation eventually decided to reject God as Israel’s king and desired to have an earthly king like all the other nations around them (1 Sam. 8:5-8). God instructed Samuel to obey their wishes (1 Sam. 8:22), and he would later anoint Saul as king of Israel (1 Sam. 10:1).
In 1 Samuel 12, Samuel delivers a farewell address to the people as he is drawing closer to his death.
Samuel gave great care to the people of Israel. He had done certain things for them. He had refrained from other things to their benefit. He reminded them concerning the faithfulness of God in the past. He prayed with faith before them, and they witnessed God respond powerfully.
But in all that effort, he was deeply concerned about one thing:
Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. -1 Samuel 12:23
Thou Shalt Pray
What a powerfully convicting thought! While “thou shalt pray” is not the 11th commandment, this passage is found in the Word of God. The Word equates prayerlessness with sin! Have I sinned because I have failed to pray for others?
I automatically push back and think that I might be slack but I am not sinning, right? When I fail to pray, I choose to keep things in my own hands. I play the part of God. That breaks the first commandment. So when I cease praying and rely on myself, I am replacing the Almighty God with the measly me.
God, forgive me of the sinful lack of prayers I have not prayed!
While Samuel had done so much for the people throughout his priestly career, his job wasn’t over. And neither is yours.
Maybe you have physically cared for those you love. Maybe you have been a source of encouragement in their lives. Maybe you have cared for them at such a level that your bank account is low, your body is exhausted, and your emotions spent. But how much and in what way have you prayed for them?
A question I have been pondering as of late:
What if your care for your loved ones was graded solely on the prayers that you had prayed for him or her? How covered would they be?
This prayer curriculum with the Kendricks’ brothers for Movie #5 has caused me to do some serious reflection concerning my own prayer life. I have been convicted and inspired by the Word of God during my time of study. My prayer life has improved greatly in recent days, and yet I still want to go so much further!
Lord, help us to be people who still believe that prayer works!