We're lingering in the passages about our buddy Samuel, the man of prayer, for there is still more for us here! We'll get back to our "women of the Bible" series soon, don't worry!
Last week we saw that Samuel was quite provoked when the people slighted him, Remember that? He made the rounds all year long, going from place to place to do justice for them, and had never even looked at a bribe. No fees, no rewards. He had kept the land in peace, but he was getting on in years, and his sons were not following in the grand old man's footsteps -- they were definitely not chips off the old block, as my grandma used to say. So, the people seized on this excuse and demanded a king. God listened as he poured out his heart, and consoled the old man with the knowledge that they were not rejecting Samuel himself, but God. He tells Samuel to warn the people of what having a monarch will be like.
And he does.
And they still want one.
He doesn't grow irritated. He doesn't get peevish. He goes back to God the Father and then anoints them a king.
Here's our practical life lesson from this: when we are tempted to stop praying for persons that we have been lifting up to God, we must not give in. If they have ridiculed our prayers, no matter. If they have said they don't want them, never mind. At that point, we try to show even greater love, by continuing to pray for them! If our friend persists in a sinful habit, if our child resists our loving guidance, if our neighbor hurls one more insult -- yes, even then, we keep on lifting them up to Jesus!
Samuel set us an example there . . . remember when Saul went astray?
“I regret that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.” (I Samuel 15:11a)What was Samuel's response? He cried out to the Lord all night for Saul.
Shall I get that box of bandaids?
How many of us have stayed in prayer all night -- and for someone else?
How often are our prayers like this: Lord-I'm-sorry-for-my-sins-and-I'll-try-to-do-better-tomorrow-if-You'll-help-me-oh-and-please-bless-the pastor-and-the-mission-team-and-oh-dear-I-can't-recall-the-name-of-that-lady-that-Judith-mentioned-but-God-you-know-her-she-has-cancer-and-isn't-saved.....the sound of gentle breathing says that we've now fallen asleep.
Amen. I've been there, too.
But now, can we get serious about our prayers? Can we look back at Samuel's words and repeat them, God forbid if we cease to pray for him, and her, and them, and, and .....
Here's where the rubber meets the road, y'all. Even if it's a gravel road, like I live on.
We have to practice.
Shouldn't it come naturally?
To some extent, yes.
But think about this; if a woman wants to sew a lovely quilt, she practices. If a boy wants to learn to cast a fishing lure, he practices. If a man wants to play ball with his kids, they will get out together and practice.
I know you have probably seen this acronym before, or some iteration of it. It's not a bad way to look at prayer, and practice:
P -- Praise Him for all of our blessings
R -- Repent of our sins, even the secret sins that we might not realize we did
A -- Ask Him our requests, especially those of interceding for someone else
Y -- Yield to His will
E -- Expect Him to act on our behalf, or for the one we're praying for
R -- Rejoice in the blessings yet to come!
There is truly power in prayer. If we can't do much financially, or if we don't have a gift for public speaking, then we can still do a great deal for His kingdom. We can do it on our knees, in prayer.