How Should We Pray?
1 Samuel 13
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
How long after you pray do you wait on the Lord? Do you give God an opportunity to answer your prayers? Do you set deadlines? Do you threaten God, if He does not act within a certain time period? We often become panic stricken, if God does not answer in a certain way or by a specific time. I also struggle with this. When God does not answer in the time or in the way we desire, how do we respond? We often take matters into our own hands and feel justified in doing this. We feel as if we must act. Two examples of this are found in the Scriptures.
Abraham - Abram was childless, yet God promised he would be the father of nations in Genesis 13:14-18. You cannot be the father of nations if you have no children. In Genesis 15:1-6, Abraham attempted to make a deal with God. He also attempted to fulfill God’s promise by taking Hagar as his wife (Genesis 16:1-4). Once again, God restated His promise to Abraham in Genesis 17:1-19. God even sent angels to remind Abraham and Sarah of His promise (Genesis 18:9-14).
Abraham’s lack of faith in God led to problems with Pharaoh, Abimelech, Sarah, Hagar, and Ishmael. God fulfilled His promise in Genesis 21:1-7. I often wonder how much sooner would God have fulfilled His promise, if Abraham had simply waited on the Lord. I think sometimes we forfeit God’s best, because we fail to wait for Him. There are times God seems to make us take the same test over and over again until we pass.
Saul - (1 Samuel 13). Saul was an example of someone that never did get it right. He spent the productive years of his life in rebellion against God. While God used Saul to chase out many of Israel’s enemies and to train David, Saul failed to reap the blessings of walking with God.
Bad things seem to happen to us in groups (1 Samuel 13:1-7). Saul was a new king, and he was still adjusting to the role of king. He selected 3,000 key soldiers from his own tribe to act as a standing army. While these 3,000 men looked impressive on the parade grounds, they would have to stand against armies much larger and better equipped. These 3,000 men acted more like a police force than an army (1 Samuel 13:2).
Israel was no match for the mighty Philistines. The Philistines had military outposts throughout Israel, which served as centers for tax collection and the settlement of legal matters. It was also a place where the Philistines took advantage of the Jewish population. There is no doubt that these outposts were dangerous places for the Jewish people to live. Jonathan, Saul’s oldest son, had enough of the constant attacks and destroyed one of these Philistine outposts (1 Samuel 13:3). As a result, he stirred up an already tense situation (1 Samuel 13:4-5). To make matters worse, the very people who supported Saul in becoming the king of Israel were now running for their lives. The ones that did follow him were trembling (1 Samuel 13:6-7).
Saul was told by Samuel, the prophet, to wait on the Lord seven days until Samuel returned (1 Samuel 13:8). As the day approached, the enemy was getting closer and Saul’s people were leaving. There was no sign of Samuel, so Saul took matters into his own hands and offered a burnt sacrifice to the Lord(1 Samuel 13:9). What was the big deal? Saul made an offering to the Lord. What was the crime in this? Aren’t we supposed to make offerings to the Lord? Doesn’t God want us to be people of action? If Saul was not supposed to show leadership, why did God make Him king?
The point is Saul was instructed to wait. He did not, and his actions although seemingly heroic and noble were wrong. Samuel showed up just as Saul finished offering the burnt sacrifice. Although Saul attempted to justify his actions (1 Samuel 13:10-12), Samuel would have none of it. (1 Samuel 13:13) Saul’s action cost him the kingdom. He forfeited God’s best for the sake of the urgent. God would protect Israel even if only 600 men had remained to fight. God did not need Saul’s help. What God needed from Saul was faithfulness and obedience to the Word of God, and Saul failed.
What trial are you facing right now? Are you trusting God? Are you doing all He has instructed you to do? Be careful you do not allow the tyranny of the urgent to lead you into disobeying the word of the Lord.