I have been on a mission for the last 15 months to improve my prayer life. I do not think I have it all figured out. For several weeks during the spring (2017), I went to a prayer time for the missionaries our church supports. I enjoyed my time with those that were there praying with me immensely. They were retired missionaries and other senior saints that blessed me and taught me. As we sat talking about prayer before our actual prayer time one of these gentleman said, “I keep changing my prayer method trying to improve on what I had done previously.” What a blessing to me to hear others that are far wiser than I struggle with the same things I do.
I Samuel 12:23 reminds me how important and integral prayer is to our lives.
“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.” (I Samuel 12:23).
I have been writing about this section of Scripture for a few weeks now. Just a little reminder of what we have learned. This is the conclusion of Samuel’s farewell address to the children of Israel. They had asked for a king and God gave them a king. Samuel reminded them that asking for a king was evil. He reminded them, though, that now that they had a king they needed to remember a few things:
- Do not turn aside from following the Lord
- Serve the Lord with your whole heart
- Empty things do not profit
- Fear the Lord
As Samuel was reminding them of these key things, he told them that he also had a responsibility. It was not just for them to follow God, he also had a responsibility: PRAY AND TEACH. Samuel did not just instruct others. He also informed the Israelites of his responsibility and if he did not fulfill his responsibilities, it was a sin against the Lord. What was this sin against the Lord: ceasing to pray for the Israelites.
The Israelites were a tough crowd. They continued to follow after sinful things. Even when instructed to do what is right and committing to do what is right, they still sinned. They worshipped false gods. They married foreigners. They adopted pagan ways. They forgot God who had brought them into the Promised Land. They repeatedly were in a cycle of apostasy, judgment, servitude, crying out to the Lord for relief from their servitude, repentance, and rescue. Then they would forget what God had done for them and start the cycle again.
I am sure Samuel would get discouraged with these people he was attempting to shepherd. They had ears but did not listen. Yet, he had a responsibility: pray and teach. Samuel was challenging himself not to give up. The way seemed uphill every day. Easy to want to quit. Since we know the rest of the Old Testament story of the Israelites, the other prophets continued to pray and teach the Israelites and they continued to have ears that did not hear. God knew this, yet he kept sending prophets to teach them.
Do you feel like giving up on a good deed? The Bible is full of stories of those who had insurmountable tasks. Paul being one of those and yet he reminded the Thessalonians and he also reminds us
“Do not grow weary in doing good.” (I Thessalonians 3:13).
Let me challenge you along with challenging myself: Keep praying! Keep teaching! Keep doing good!
“For in due season, we will reap if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9).