Mizpah gives us a clip of Samuel, the pray-er in action. In 1 Sam 7 three things happened: Israel returned to the Lord, the Philistines advanced and Samuel prayed. I was sitting in a quiet Chiangmai coffee shop trying to visualize Samuel’s noisy, violent prayer arena. On one side, a terrified, sure-to-lose army of Israel; on the other the terrifying, advancing, sure-to-win Philistine war machine. And then there was the pray-er, Samuel…. the game changer. Without him in the picture the outcome would have been predictable, but the pray-er’s involvement upset the ‘sure-to’ forecast. Samuel prayed, God thundered, the great Philistine army was destroyed and an invisible Hand kept them from re-crossing Israel’s borders for the duration of Samuel’s life. His mother, Hannah had prayed for a son and Sam was the answer. Then the boy grew up into a pray-er whose asking brought God’s thunder and blessed the nation with deliverance and peace.
I opened to Psalm 99 and got no further than verse 6:
Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them
Samuel – like Elijah – was a prayer news-maker, a pray-er of renown. But he was one man among those who called on the Lord. What about all the other pray-ers? Who were they? What were their names? What were their prayer accomplishments? How many times did heaven thunder in response to their prayers? We don’t know. The Lord has recorded the names of some pray-ers for us, but they are outnumbered by the company of nameless ones. He answered them too, but didn’t broadcast their names.
These are the faithful pray-ers who are happy to stay hidden. They have no desire to publish their prayer schedules and they talk little about the cost of their inner-room life. They’re glad for the chance to serve Jesus’ glory and don’t mind doing it away from the bright lights of the platform.
These nameless pray-ers might not have glowing reports of evangelistic adventures and full meeting schedules, or be able to share photos of great aid programmes and development projects, but if heaven would select just one of them and project to our smart phone screens the consequences of their prayer encounter times, it would probably put us face-down in amazement that so much “thunder” can result from one person who lives to pray him known.
The Lord allows the names of some of his choice intercessors to be promoted publicly, but a much larger number remain hidden, content to simply be known to him in the secret place. Of course, they won’t be hidden forever. The Final Day will thrust them into the spotlight, dressed in indescribable brilliance as Jesus honours them before the Father.
By now my quiet, little coffee table – fortunately in an empty corner – had become a Potter’s wheel. The Lord was shaping my heart, and letting me feel just a small measure of his affection for his present-day nameless pray-ers. Although he chooses not to announce their names on earth, he boasts of them in heaven. They are crucial to the outworking of every good thing he plans to do. Their praying in his name is a conduit of the impossible, supernatural advances of his kingdom in all nations! We can’t know how many nameless pray-ers are devoted to his glory on earth. But what we can conclude is this: there are still too few.
If his kingdom is to break through with greater power and his glory to shine with more strength in the world’s unlikely, resistant places, then the company of his nameless pray-ers must grow bigger. There’s no global sign-up sheet, no badge or daily roll-call for those who will join. We are simply to begin, and then keep doing it.
We know that the inner room (personal prayer life) is good, enjoyable and possible for us all. Yet many of us find it difficult to keep doing it. Why? Please share with us what you think are some of the most common obstacles or struggles Christians face with personal prayer life.
Looking forward to your comments.
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