|Volume 19 Number 6 June 2017||
Gary C. Hampton
Samuel’s two sons took bribes and perverted justice. The elders of Israel went to Samuel at Ramah, seizing on these sad circumstances, to ask for a king like the nations around them (1 Samuel 8:1-5). They could have asked for others to assume the role of judging them, or for God to work things in accordance with His will, but they did not. Anytime God’s people lust for something other than what God provides, sin is crouching at the door (James 1:13-14; Genesis 4:6-7).
God knew Israel would desire a king. Moses wrote that a king had to be chosen by God from among the Israelites, no Gentile being allowed to sit on the throne. He could not accumulate horses, a harem or hoard up wealth because that would lead him astray. God’s law was to be central in his thinking so the king and his family could be blessed (Deuteronomy 17:14-20).
Samuel did not find the people’s request agreeable, but he took it to God in prayer (1 Samuel 8:6). Any other act would have placed him in the same category as the children of Israel. Good leaders of God’s people recognize they serve under God. Their job is to watch for the wellbeing of the souls under their care (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17).
Psalm 69:5-9 serves as an example of the prayer God’s leaders should pray.
O God, You know my foolishness; And my sins are not hidden from You. Let not those who wait for You, O Lord God of hosts, be ashamed because of me; Let not those who seek You be confounded because of me, O God of Israel. Because for Your sake I have borne reproach; Shame has covered my face. I have become a stranger to my brothers, And an alien to my mother’s children; Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
May God bless our shepherds as they watch for our souls.
Constant in Prayer
There is no question that we as Christians are to be identified by prayer. James reminds us, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16). We should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). In prayer, we offer praise to God as our Creator, Sustainer and Father. We can pour the needs of our hearts before Him, knowing He cares for us and will do what is right for us.
Not only should we be concerned about our individual needs, but also as part of the body, we ought to have concern for the church. With each of us joining in prayer for one’s congregation, what can God accomplish through us? As you offer your personal prayers on behalf of the church, here are some things that would be appropriate to include in your petitions.
Pray for our elders, deacons, preachers and their families, as well as for the work they perform on behalf of this flock. Pray for our various church programs of work, such as Leadership Training for Christ, World Bible School, the Prison Ministry, the Visitation Program, our Bible Classes, our Building Program, etc., as well as those involved in these various good works. Pray the Lord will provide us more opportunities for service and growth. Pray you will seek, according to your talents and abilities, to serve more fervently, more effectively.
There is much that competes for our time and attention. By spending time in prayer, we can sift through it all and devote ourselves to what deserves our time. Being constant in prayer, we can draw closer to our Heavenly Father. When we draw closer to God, we also draw closer to each other. Those who are constant in prayer reveal hearts open to God and open to receive His blessings. What can the congregation be when we join in prayer? The prayer of the righteous can accomplish much.