“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 right way.”—1 Samuel 12:23
Do you have to confess the sin of prayerlessness? Samuel, spoke the above words to the people who had clamored for a king, assuring them of his continual prayers on their behalf. He himself was born in answer to his mother’s prayers, and as he grew up he saw the value of prayer as he assumed his leadership position.
In contrast, Eli the priest, who had responsibly for the spiritual leadership of the nation, had long since given up on prayer. In fact, when Samuel’s mother came into the temple to pray, Eli thought she was drunk! Here is a contrast between a cynical man who had given up on prayer and a younger man who knew both the privilege and responsibility of prayer.
Let us consider Samuel’s words:
First, prayerlessness is not merely a weakness or an oversight—it is sin. We must realize that intercession—fervent praying—lies at the heart of God’s pattern for getting His work done in the world. If prayerlessness is sin, we should not only begin a life of serious prayer, we should confess our neglect, and treat our prayerlessness as we would any other sin.
Second, Samuel’s prayers were selfless. He realized that his intercession was to be not just for himself and his family, but for the nation. In context, the nation, in insisting on having a king, had run afoul with God’s perfect will. But although they had crossed this line of disobedience, Samuel gave them hope because of God’s mercy and the faithfulness of those who still were praying.
Finally, notice that Samuel’s greatest fear was not that he might fail in public, but that he might fail in private; that is, he feared that he might stop praying. And he knew that if he failed in this private discipline, he would most assuredly fail in his public life as well. He connected prayer with his ability to instruct others in the “good and right way.”
We must pray, for ourselves and others, that a “culture of prayer” might be developed in our own lives that will give us both the desire and the discipline to pray and put our lives on the line for others. Let us believe that things will be different because we have prayed.
Let Us Pray
Father, first of all we confess our own sin of prayerlessness. We admit that we have become cynical and indifferent, thinking that prayer will not change our circumstances or our nation. Help us to come to grips with the depth of our sin and the wonder of Your grace. Today, we resolve to put our sin of prayerlessness behind us.
So, we pray, first for _______ who is in great need. We pray for their deliverance from the distress in which they find themselves. We pray that You will give them hope and peace.
Lord, like Samuel, who prayed for his nation, so we pray for ours. Lord, we confess we have separated You from law, from education, from science, and from our courts. We blush in shame for our many sins and rebellion. Turn the hearts of Your people to You that through our witness we, as a nation, might turn back to You.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.