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Embracing Our Duty to Pray

by Ken Spicher on February 28, 2018

Embracing Our Duty to Pray

“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

Samuel’s compulsion to pray

In 1 Samuel 12, the Israelites were desperate for prayer.   They had just realized the depth of their wickedness in demanding a king to rule over them and are fearful of God’s judgement. 

“Please pray for us!” they cried out to Samuel.   

Few people in the Bible truly grasped their role in participating with God in His work here on earth like Samuel.   Samuel was so aware of the importance in using the gift of prayer that he considered it a sin if he was not faithful to employ it.  Notice Samuel said it would be a sin to him if he “ceased” to pray for them.  That meant Samuel never stopped praying and interceding for the people. 

He saw prayer as a ministry not so much because of his position as a prophet, but rather more for the power and impact it had on people.  Samuel was so committed to the importance of prayer that he couldn’t imagine not praying for others.  It would simply be wrong to ignore it, neglect it, or be indifferent to it. 

Hudson Taylor

If you were to research some of the great men of prayer in history, your search would include the name Hudson Taylor.  Hudson was a missionary to China in the 1800’s.  There is a story of him evangelizing to a Chinaman while traveling on a boat one day.  The man was interested in what Hudson had to say Christ but wouldn’t commit to surrendering his life at that time.  Later in day, that man jumped overboard in an attempt take his own life. 

Hudson saw the man jump off the boat and looked around for a way to help.  He spotted a fishing boat nearby and began to call out to the fisherman.  He cried out for them to bring their nets over to his boat to see if they could rescue the Chinaman. 

“It is not convenient” was there initial response. 

“Don’t talk about convenience!” yelled Hudson.  “A man is drowning!”

“We are busy fishing and cannot come,” they said.

Hudson kept urging them and eventually offered to pay the fishermen for their help.  Finally, the fishing boat came over and let their hooks down into the water.  In less than a minute they were able to bring the man up to the surface and on to the boat.  But it was too late, and the Chinaman could not be resuscitated.

For Hudson the application of this story to our lives was clear.  Those fishermen had the opportunity and means to save another person but refused to use them.  Just as a fishing net and hook were a means to rescue a drowning man, so prayer and scripture are our means to rescue those who don’t know Christ.  We could be very critical of those fishermen.  But Hudson would invite us to look within ourselves and ask if we, too, use similar excuses of inconvenience and being too busy to pray for God’s work in the lives of those desperate for help. 

Bearing fruit and prayer

Jesus gave us all the same calling and he gave us prayer to achieve that calling:  “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:16).  The Father will give you what you ask of Him in Jesus’ name so that you can fulfill your calling to bear fruit.  Bearing fruit and prayer are forever connected. 

That means prayer is every disciple’s duty.  It’s not just for a few “prayer warriors” in the church.  We all have the calling to bear fruit: to love God, love others, and to make disciples.  And we’ve all been provided with the same means to make it happen. 

Embrace the duty of prayer and enjoy God’s faithful answers!