PRAY FOR WHO?
In a season when many people may feel isolated, restricted, manipulated, marginalized, and let down, we tend to have negative feelings toward the people that did these things. We certainly aren’t motivated to take them to God in prayer. Yet Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you!” (1 Sam 12:23 KJV)
SAMUEL REFUSED TO STOP PRAYING FOR PEOPLE WHO DIDN’T CARE IF HE PRAYED FOR THEM OR NOT.
Samuel, whose name means “God heard my prayers” was a priest who ministered the love and law of God, as well as a minister of God’s mercy to a failing people. He stood firm in God’s truth and at the same time showed compassion to those who lost their way.
It was a time when Israel didn’t want God as king anymore but wanted a human king like the rest of the nations. Israel chose Saul as their king. In time, Saul rejected God and wanted to do things his way.
SAMUEL WAS DEEPLY GRIEVED WITH SAUL’S BEHAVIOR.
God has given every person a free choice. When we decide to go our own way, God does not revoke His commitment to us. He remains faithful. But Saul had chosen his own way. That is why Samuel said, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.” 1 Sam 12:23 BSB
SAMUEL REMINDS US, “I DON’T WANT TO FALL SHORT OF GOD’S HIGHEST PURPOSE FOR ME AND NOT PRAY FOR YOU.”
Later on, we see where God said to Samuel, “Saul has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my commands.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night. (1 Sam 15:11 NLT) Samuel was so grieved for a man who had walked away from God, that he spent the whole night in prayer. Would we stop our prayers for someone whom God was disappointed with their actions? Would we assume God washed His hands of them?
We all know people who are outside our circle of values: neighbors who are rude, politicians who waffle on critical issues, leaders who violate trust, and enemies that antagonize us. We may have family members who reject the Lord’s way and oppose our views. But should we withdraw our prayers from them?
We must remember two things: God has given them free choice and they have chosen the path they want to go, and secondly, God has not removed His love for them, no matter how far they removed themselves from Him.
Did we forget that God so loved us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us? We became born again by the grace of God on no merit of our own. Every person is worthy and in need of our passionate concern in prayer.
PRAY FOR THEM?
There’s a story of how a church had lost its way. While praying for them God said , “The church has died.”
But Later, that church experienced a great revival. The question was asked, “God, did I misunderstand?” His answer: “Yes. I told you it was dead, and you concluded you should do nothing. I told you it died so that you would pray for its resurrection.”
When we pray for people and don’t see the answers we expect, do we feel our prayers were wasted? Some may ask, “What good did Samuel’s prayers do?” The fact remains Saul chose his own way. Despite that Samuel mourned, prayed, and fasted for Saul—for someone he didn’t care for. But little did he know that God was working a greater purpose in Israel.
You see a little shepherd boy named David was being fashioned and formed by the Spirit of the Lord. Through worship and music, God was forming a teenager whose heart would be passionately glued to God. The abiding evidence of Samuel’s prayers is that God brought Israel to a new season in its history, with new victories, a new spirit of worship, and new revelations of God so powerful that when God raised His own Son as Messiah, He called Him the “Son of David.” That’s what happens when we, like Samuel, continue to pray for someone who turns from God and goes their own way.
That is why we continue to pray, as we should for all people, despite their political views, social status, race, or religion. No matter whether they are in our circle or out. All people and situations are worthy of our prayers.
Will you expand your prayer list to include those people that you may have been disinclined to pray for? God is not done with them yet. Include that politician that rubs you the wrong way, the reporter that seems to skew the truth, the celebrity who stands against your faith. Do you have an aggressive relative or a coworker that is actively speaking against your causes? Let’s pray for them, that the Lord would save them, set them free, and show them His unending Love!
This message was adapted from a Pastor Jack Hayford teaching.