All of us have given care to someone in our lives. Think of someone who you have truly watched over concerning their needs (physical, emotional, spiritual, etc.).
Maybe your list is very thorough and all-encompassing. You have spent time, resources, and energy on caring for the person who came to mind.
What if your care for them was graded solely on the prayers that you had prayed for him or her? How covered would he or she be?
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.
In 1 Samuel 12:1-5, Samuel reminds the people of how had lived before them. He had been faithful to God and to the people. The people agreed – they found no fault in Samuel.
Next, in 1 Samuel 12:6-15, Samuel recounts God’s faithful acts and Israel’s faithless acts. He reminds Israel how far out of their league they are with the LORD.
Samuel then offers up a prayer for rain in 1 Samuel 12:16-19. God answers and the people are in awe. Prayer worked! God is powerful! Samuel has been faithful!
At the end of this passage, Samuel says something that is somewhat shocking (1 Samuel 12:20-25).
As for me, I vow that I will not sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way. -1 Samuel 12:23
Did you catch that? After all that Samuel had done for the people, he considered it to be sinful if he neglected to pray for this people.
Is My Lack of Prayers Sinful?
Much like the person you mentioned earlier to whom you have given care, 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 did not want to sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for the people for which he had cared. 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?
Don’t sin by ceasing to pray for those you are called to serve!