1 Samuel 7:2-14
I believe that prayer is one of the key factors that have led to the success of Footsteps. So, as we celebrate 20 years we can raise a pillar called ‘Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” ’ [1 Samuel 7:12]
Samuel was called, as a young child, to be a prophet during a very bad time in the story of God’s people, Israel. The last few chapters of the book of Judges show how bad things were. When Samuel was called, the sons of Eli, the high priest, were using their position to exploit the people. Their blasphemy [1 Samuel 2:12-15; 3:13] even led to their death and the ark of God falling into the hands of the Philistines in a battle near Ebenezer [1 Samuel 4:1, 10].
In 1 Samuel 7 we are 20 years on from those dreadful events. The ark was soon returned but came to rest in an obscure town and ceased to play a central part in the life of the nation until the time of David. Samuel has now grown into a respected prophet and judge. The Philistines are still oppressing the people of God and they live in fear and poverty.
Suddenly there is a general conviction in Israel that things are bad because they have turned their backs on God. Samuel calls a general assembly at Mizpah so that the leaders of the people could show that they were turning their backs on their false gods. The Philistines see this as an opportunity to attack. The Israelites are unprepared to defend themselves so they can do nothing but ask Samuel to pray …
- Talk about what this story tells us about the causes of our problems – including poverty.
- Share experiences where prayer has been crucial in bringing about good change.
- Discuss the part played by God’s people [the church] turning back to God in making Samuel’s prayer effective.
Dewi Hughes, Theological Advisor, Tearfund