I’ve never considered him to be among the more illustrious characters of the Bible. Yet he made one of the most truthful, incisive, statements about prayer ever uttered!
But first I remembered this about Samuel. He was conceived, born into an atmosphere of prayer! Hannah, His Mother, begging God for a son! And old Eli thinking she was intoxicated! As in 1st Samuel 1:11. “She (Hannah) vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life.”
Samuel also grew up in the House of God, communing with the Lord from a very early age. “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth!” See 1st Samuel 3:9, words from the lad’s mouth!
But later, as a grown man, Samuel continued the art of prayer. The practice of prayer. And somehow he learned (from Hannah, from Eli, from the Holy Spirit?) the critical lesson of praying for others!
That’s called “intercession.”
He prayed for his whole nation, Israel.
He later prayed for his King, Saul.
In fact, he prayed for everybody.
So much so, so structured was his life around intercessory prayer that he arrived at a conviction. At a conclusion the Lord wanted added to the truths of Scripture! And here it is:
“Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you.” 1st Samuel 12:23
A SIN, not to pray for others!
The expression “forbid” in Hebrew means “far from me!”
The possibility of Samuel NOT praying for his people was a thousand miles away! It’s just a word picture but it certainly conveys the idea.
The verb “should sin” translates “chata” in Hebrew, meaning “to miss the mark!” God’s PLAN for Samuel was to pray for others! Really, that’s His Plan for us, too.
The preposition “against” is represented in the Text by the letter “lamed,” here simply spelled “la.” It means “to” or “toward” a person or thing. The sin of not loving and caring for Israel was a sin to/toward God! It at times can even mean “according to,” which might apply here as well.
“Ceasing” is “chadal,” meaning “to fail, to leave off, to forego, to forsake,” and once even “to rest from!” No break in the action! “Pray without ceasing,” Paul would have it.
Then the main verb, “to pray.” And “palal” means “to intervene!” To interpose, to intercede! To be a go-between! To plead with God on behalf of others!
This may be prayer on its highest level, folks!
Then a closing prepositional phrase. “For you.” And the pronoun is plural, for the whole people!
What a Verse!
In the New Testament too, we are exhorted: “Confess your faults one to another, and PRAY ONE FOR ANOTHER ….” James 5:16
The challenge has been made!
Let’s each make a prayer “list.”
And consistently pray for those we love.
Those who are in the Body of Christ!
Praying, like Samuel, for others!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell
(Here’s the advantage of studying prayer biographically! Through the lives of those who modeled the ministry of prayer! Otherwise we might have missed today’s vital truth.)