The Prayer of Samuel

Sunday, October 23, 2016

boy praying

As I read the book of 1 Samuel, I am discovering new insights I have never seen before. In chapter three I have noticed a few key points. 

  • #1 - The word of the Lord and visions were rare then. 
  • #2 - Eli laid down every night in his usual place while Samuel slept in the temple where the ark of God was. God spoke to Samuel and not to Eli. 
  • #3 - Eli let Samuel do the communicating with God. 

The end result of these is that the Lord began to regularly appear again in Shiloh and he chose Samuel as his new mouthpiece. This chapter is a sad commentary on how leadership shirked their spiritual responsibility and became comfortable with the fact that God's presence had left them. God had no choice but to bypass the leadership and begin speaking to the younger generation of that day. I don't have time to go into it here, but I see some of the same things happening in the Church today and the Lord is already bypassing those of us who are the leaders and is beginning to move through our younger generation.

As I read chapter four, I see something very disturbing. This chapter gives us a warning about what will happen if the generation that is in charge right now doesn't heed the warning signs here. As God began speaking to Samuel, Eli and the rest of the nation of Israel began to try and take personal ownership of God's revelation. They assumed that God's favor was on them now that his voice is being heard again. With that assumption, they decide to pick a fight with the Philistines. They go one step further and take the ark out of the temple and put it on the battle field with them assuming God's anointing was on them. To make a long story short, Israel lost big time. At the end of the day, 30,000 men were killed and the ark was captured by the enemy. They made two deadly errors. The first was asking God to bless what they wanted to do rather than finding out what God wanted them to do. The second was thinking that they could take ownership of God's presence. These are two big no-nos!

The challenge for us today is not to make these same mistakes. Those of us in leadership must take great care to ensure that God's presence and voice is leading us, not the other way around. If we are not careful, God's voice can become silent and we won't even notice. This happens when we get too caught up in "doing God's work" rather than letting God "work through us". We tend to pray like this--"God, we pray that you would anoint our efforts today." We should pray like this--"Lord, help us to put our efforts into what You are already at work doing." Do you see the difference in those two prayers? If we are doing what God is already doing, we won't ever have to wonder if His anointing is upon our efforts. We get so busy doing things for God that we end up doing our work instead of his.

One final note--It is imperative that we listen to what God is speaking to our younger generation today. If Eli had done this I believe the outcome would have been very different. Our youth are hearing and seeing things that we tend to miss because we tend to become comfortable with where we are. We can get so good at ministry that we lose our effectiveness. Like Samuel, God will use our children to wake us up. I don't know about you, but I don't want to miss what God is saying to us. I don't want to be comfortable with the status quo. May our prayer be the prayer of Samuel--"Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

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