June 30, 2009

Lessons in prayer from the life of Samuel

Throughout the life of Samuel we see a beautiful  portrayal of humility in the sight of God and complete dependency on him. Samuel, a man of prayer, had a passionate prayer life that epitomizes these very things.



And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. (1Sa 8:21)

Here Samuel was placed in a very difficult situation. He had to mediate between the people’s demands for a king and God’s disapproval to that demand. He wasn’t allowed to take any decision without God’s permissive will. At the same time he was constantly being pressed by the people who ignored God’s protest to their demands and insisted more for a king.

Samuel communicated what God told him to the people and tried to persuade them to listen to God’s voice. But alas, they weren’t going to budge. So helplessly Samuel went back to God with their demands and rehearsed them in the ears of God. It’s strange because God would have already taken note of the people’s insubordination to him and yet Samuel rehearsed the whole situation back to God.

Did he make God look deaf? No. I think that in this very act, Samuel showed what it meant to be humble and completely dependent on God. He didn’t really think it appropriate for him to take any decision. Hence he approached God with all humility asking him for help. Samuel was a people’s man. The people loved him and respected him. And in all this, Samuel loved the people equally. He corrected them from God’s word occasionally and guided them when necessary. He understood their feelings and recognized himself with their emotions. That’s why when he went back to God in prayer; he went as a negotiator to God. He brought forth the people’s feelings to God. That’s why we see him ‘rehearsing’ the whole situation to God. And what was the outcome? God listened to the people’s cries!

Was it because of Samuel’s intercessions? I fail to see God listening to the people’s petitions without Samuel being there as a mediator.

When was the last time we went to God interceding for someone else fervently? Are we concerned for our fellow brethren’s needs even though they may sound not important? It makes it doubly important for God when you bring your brother’s need to him in prayer. Can we do this for our family, church and even our nation? Let us approach God with all humility and dependency on him and pray just as Samuel prayed.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent (passionate) prayer of a righteous man availeth much. (Jas 5:16)


Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: (1Sa 12:23)

After appointing a king over Israel, the people realized their mistake in asking for a king and ran back to Samuel that he may intercede with God for the forgiveness of their sin. In the process of replying back to them, Samuel makes this stunning statement, “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.”

Samuel considered praying for his people very important. He expressed a deep feeling for them and prayed ‘without ceasing’ for them. He went to the extent of considering it as a sin to cease praying for them. As James puts it in James 4:17,

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

Samuel was determined. He didn’t allow any of his humanly excuses hinder his prayer life. He chose to be faithful in his prayer life. He chose between an easy life and a hard labored life. He spent a lot of time towards the growth of his people in the Lord. He ensured that he taught them the good and right way. ‘He lived for others’ as simply put. And all of this was backed up by a strong prayer life that empowered him to work for the people.

Where are we today? Busy in our work? Lost in the busyness and concerns of our life? Could we be like Samuel, passionate in prayer and seriously concerned about the needs of our people?


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