7 Minute Read

Today’s Bible Reading:

1 Samuel 5:1–7:17
John 6:1-21
Psalm 106:13-31
Proverbs 14:32-33

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

1 Samuel 7:9 (NLT): “So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.” 

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

The verse I chose for today is simple and straightforward. The prophet Samuel sacrificed an animal, he prayed for the Israelites, and God heard his prayer.

Yet, we learn quite a bit more by reading the context. The Ark of the Covenant had been previously held by the Philistines. It eventually came back into the possession of the Israelites.

But, the Israelites’ deep desire was for something more. They wanted the Lord. God seemed like a million miles away to them, and they wanted to enjoy Him and relish in His blessings again.

So they went to the prophet Samuel. He told them to get rid of their foreign gods and commit to solely worshiping the one true God in their hearts. He also told them to gather at Mizpah where he would pray for them.

They gathered, and a time of worship and cleansing began. Yet, the Philistines heard about the gathering and misunderstood the Israelites’ intentions. They jumped to a conclusion and thought that the Israelites were preparing for war. So the Philistines suited up for a battle. An attack on the Israelites seemed imminent.

As you might suspect, the Israelites sensed an urgency to pray. The Israelites were unprepared and terrified. They begged Samuel to pray for them.

1 Samuel 7:8 (NLT): “‘Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!’ they begged Samuel.”

So, what did Samuel do? He offered a sacrifice, said a prayer, and God answered his prayer.

1 Samuel 7:9 (NLT): “So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.” 

Now, there’s a lot that could be said about that three-step process, so I’ll be brief:

The Sacrifice 

Sacrificing animals was the Old Testament way of showing the severity of sin that required a death. It also powerfully pictured how the substitution of an innocent animal could be offered on behalf of the guilty.

A sacrifice is essential if we are to approach God with our petitions and have any chance of being heard. This is why Jesus came. He died as our substitute, as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. The forgiveness offered by His death is provided to anyone who will look to Him in faith.

Jesus’ sacrificial death aligns with the first step of Samuel’s three-step process.

The Prayer

To get things from God, we’ve got to begin by talking to Him about what we need in prayer. There are a handful of prayer principles that we must comply with if we are to get anything. But, when we consider what can be gained by praying the way God has told us to pray, why not learn those principles … and then pray!

If you want to get a helpful book that can assist you in learning how the Bible teaches us to pray, consider reading the short book, “How to Pray” by R.A. Torrey. A lengthier book that I have found helpful is “Prayer: Asking and Receiving,” by John R. Rice.

The Answer

Prayer enables us to enjoy fellowship with God. As a by-product, we receive from God the things for which we ask. In fact, Jesus said that answers to prayer are intended to cultivate happiness within us (John 16:24).

So, depending upon the blood of Jesus to grant you entrance into God’s presence, pray. And while praying, make sure you are applying each of the biblical prayer principles so that you can enjoy the fruit of your prayer – fellowship with God and the answer(s) for which you are asking.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash