Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Prayers of a Mighty Man

I'm intrigued by the person of Samson in the Bible. (Judges 13-16)  Mainly because he had everything a man wants to be and have--including God's blessing--and he squandered it all for his own glory. With March Madness and the NFL Draft on the horizon, I wonder how many Samsons will be handed an opportunity of a lifetime and we watch them end up under a pile of rubble they pull down upon themselves like Samson.

We are observing the prayer life of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke as Legacy Church these days, and my thoughts drew me back to the prayer life of Samson. How does a man chosen by God and who has it all pray?

Our storyteller records only two prayers of Samson: the first after he killed the thousand Philistines with the jawbone, the second just before his death...in both cases, Samson asked God to serve him, rather than the other way around. (87)
Samon's first prayer was filled with pride and presumption. He prayed, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagans?” (Judges 15:18; NLT) Not much humility or graciousness in that prayer, huh? 

Samson in this prayer sounds more like a NBA player with a 4-year-40-million-dollar contract talking to his coach than a servant of God seeking help from the One who gave him all he has.
Samson at his Death
Samon's only other recorded prayer wasn't much different than the first. As he stood blinded and humiliated with his arms placed on the pillars of a pagan god's temple, he cried, "O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.” (Judges 16:28; NLT) I observed,
Our hero [at his death] is still the guy we have watched all along. Samson wanted his strength to get personal revenge on the people who gouged his eyes out. He had no intention of changing his interests to serve others. His death, like his life, would serve his needs above those of others. (132)
 What a contrast to the prayer of the mighty man of God, Jesus, at his death. On the cross, Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34; NIV) I wrote, "Just as he had washed the feet of the one who betrayed him, he prayed forgiveness for those who nailed him to the cross." (133) I then concluded,
...Only the Son of God could act that way toward those who sought to kill him. Samson was incapable of such a prayer. His heart never submitted to God's purposes. The prayers of our two saviors at their deaths demonstrate the depth of their differences as leaders of God's people. (133)
What do your prayers tell others about your heart's relationship with God? Do your prayers sound more like those of Samson or Jesus? 

Prayer exposes your heart. Listen today as you pray and hear your heart.

No comments: