Persistent Prayer

In my devotions yesterday I read these words of Samuel: "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you" —1 Samuel 12:23 (NIV). I'm not sure we think that we might be sinning when we fail to pray, but that certainly seems to be Samuel's attitude.

In my reading this morning, we find Samuel in anguish because of Saul's persistent disobedience. When the Lord tells his prophet that he is going to take the kingdom away from Saul, Samuel immediately goes to prayer. I Samuel 15:11b (NIV) says: "Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night."

We suppose that Samuel had kept his promise and had been praying for Saul. But those prayers apparently didn't have the effect that Samuel anticipated. Now the end of Saul's reign is in sight, and Samuel goes back to prayer again.

I wonder what that all night conversation was like? What did Samuel ask for?

This morning I talked to the Lord about the long list of people that I pray for. I continue to pray for those I left behind in Venezuela. I pray for various people I "know" through the groups I belong to. I pray for family and friends. And now, in this new position, I pray for the people here in my church. I pray for my denomination and those I know within that organism. The list grows longer and longer.

I know I don't pray enough. I don't always pray for the right things. I confess I don't get everyone prayed for every day. And those prayers aren't always answered as I expect them to be.

However, the frailty of prayer doesn't negate its importance. Like Samuel I need to remember that to not pray is not right. To stop praying even when things don't turn out the way I expected, or people fail, is just as wrong.

Samuel didn't give up on prayer, nor did he give up on Saul even though Saul failed miserably and even though God would soon separate himself and Samuel from Saul. Samuel pleaded with God, he wept, he continued to pray. After Saul's ultimate sin the Scriptures say: "Until the day Samuel died, he did not go to see Saul again, though Samuel mourned for him" —1 Samuel 15:35 (NIV).

I'll bet Samuel prayed as he mourned, keeping his promise to pray, and to pray, and to pray.

One of the best books I've read on prayer is Prayer: Does it Make a Difference? by Philip Yancey. I'd recommend it to you. As for me, I pray for a prayer complex like that of Samuel and like that of Paul who told us to "pray continually" —I Thessalonians 5:17.


  1. He hears our hearts cry, when we talk with Him. I look forward to reading, Phillip Yancey's book on prayer. He is an awesome writer.



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