"THE SIN OF NOT PRAYING"
Intro. The nation of Israel has rejected God from being king over them and have demanded that they be given a king like the other nations. God chose for them a king who was the most qualified in all the land. Samuel is now rebuking the people for demanding a king, and tells them of God's displeasure, saying that it would be manifested by a downpour of rain in the harvest season. As the thunder and rain came, the people greatly feared and begged Samuel to pray for them that they would not die because of their sin.
I. SAMUEL'S MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE.
A. Though you have done this evil, do not turn aside from following the Lord.
1. You have taken one step away from Him, be careful not to take two.
a. It does often follow, when a person begins to turn away from the Lord they continue on that path until they are completely alienated from God.
b. God has allowed you to take the lower road, but make sure you keep heading in the right direction, that you do not turn away from Him.
2. "Serve Him with all of your heart."
a. "That in my secret heart, no other love competes, no rival throne survives, and I serve only thee."
B. "Turn not aside after vain things."
1. 2 Kings 17
records the fall of Israel to Assyria and the writer gives the reasons for their fall and going into captivity.
a. They worshipped other gods.
b. They walked in the ways of the heathen.
c. They secretly did things which were not right against the Lord.
d. They built false altars.
e. They established places for the worship of the false gods.
f. They did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger.
g. They served idols.
h. They would not listen to the prophets of God.
i. They stiffened their necks.
j. They rejected His statutes.
k. They broke His covenant.
l. They followed vanity and became vain.
m. They started to live like the heathen around them.
C. It is tragic how that so many turn to vain or empty things, which can only lead to vanity and emptiness.
1. It is like trying to satisfy your hunger with cotton candy, or your thirst with a coke.
2. It may taste sweet to your senses, but in the end will only leave you hungrier and thirstier.
C. Deep down in the innermost part of every man there is a thirst for God.
1. David said, "As the deer panteth after the water brooks, so my soul thirsts after the living God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." Psa. 422
2. Again in Psa 63
he said: PSA 63:1
O God, thou [art] my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsts for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;
3. Jesus said to the Samaritan woman at the well, "Drink of this water and you will thirst again."
a. Write that over every material thing that you ever thirsted for.
b. Write that over every ambition that you ever had.
D. Isaiah speaks of the folly and vanity of serving false gods. He declares that it is totally unprofitable. Yet man becomes blind to his folly. He loses all sense of reason. Listen to the observations of Isaiah. The wood carver takes a block of wood and measures it and marks it out and carves from that block of wood a likeness of a man. He now has a God to worship that cannot even move from the pedestal upon which it was placed. He selects the wood from the oak tree because of its hardness, or he plants an ash tree. When it is grown, he cuts it down, and with part of the wood, he bakes his bread, and with part of the wood he roasts his meat, and burns part of it in the fireplace to keep the house warm. Then with part of it he carves out a god that he might worship it, to bow before it and offer it praise. He prays to it to deliver him, and he declares, "You are my god. How can he be so stupid and ignorant? It is because God has closed his eyes and mind so that he has lost his reasoning ability.
Man doesn't stop to think, that it is nothing more than a block of wood. I used it to bake my bread and cook my meat, it warmed my house, how can the rest of it be a god? Should I bow down to a block of wood? The poor deluded fool is trusting in something that can never help him in his time of need. He cannot bring himself to admit that this is all vanity and a lie.
E. Many of you today if you have turned from following after God's best for your life, are trying to find joy and contentment in blocks of wood. Oh no, you are too sophisticated to carve your god out of a block of wood, we have moved beyond that. But that block of of wood, according to the form that was carved represented to them that their lives were mastered by their desire for sex, or power, or material possessions, or pleasure. These were their gods that ruled their lives.
1. Though they were deluded and could not acknowledge that it was nothing more than a block of wood.
2. You are more deluded than they, for you do not even recognize your worship of a false god, because you have not made an idol to represent it, to which you bow down.
3. They were not deceived, but you are.
4. If someone today would accuse you of idolatry, you would deny it vehemently because you do not have any carved representation of your god. But you are worshipping that god just the same.
E. The wonderful promise, "The Lord will not forsake His people, and He has chosen you to be His people."
1. For hundreds of years God referred to Israel as my people. even when they had turned their backs on Him, He did not turn His back on them.
2. Oh how faithful God is.
F. The people had begged Samuel to pray for them that they would not die because of their sin. To this request Samuel responds,
III. GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD SIN AGAINST THE LORD IN CEASING TO PRAY FOR YOU.
A. Samuel here declares that failure to pray is to sin against the Lord.
1. I wonder how many of us are guilty of this sin?
2. When a person is desperate it is interesting how they are willing to try anything but prayer.
a. They will put their hope in anything that promises a cure.
b. A person who is really desperate becomes a likely candidate for the charlatan, and there are many out there who prey on these desperate people.
c. They will put their trust in some wild unfounded promise of man, but they hesitate to put their trust in the promise of God.
d. I think of the lyrics of the hymn, "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." "Oh what peace we often forfeit, Oh what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer."
B. Listen to Paul's words to the various churches and people.
1. To the Romans,
For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers;
2. To the Ephesians
Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
3. To the Colossians
For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
4. To the Thessalonians,
Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
5. To Timothy,
I thank God, whom I serve from [my] forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day;
C. Men and women who have been used mightily by God are men and women who have come to realize the value of prayer, and consider it a sin not to pray.
D. Prayer however should not be looked upon as an obligation, but a wonderful privilege. "What a privilege it is to carry, everything to God in prayer."
1. To think that I can solicit the aid of the God who created this Universe to help me in my time of need.
2. To guide me in my hour of confusion.
3. To give me strength in my time of weakness.
4. To give me joy in my time of sorrow.
5. And hope in my time of despair.
E. God forbid that I should sin by failing to spend time with Him in prayer.