26 The boy Samuel grew tall, wise in the ways of the Lord,
and in favor with God and the people he served.
It’s easy to look at the heroes of the Bible and think they had it made. We see the end product and miss the road they walked to get there. In fairness, we aren’t always told all the details but we can look at the story of Samuel and learn a lot about the power of prayer.
In 1 Samuel chapter 1 and 2 we read about Hannah who was barren and was humiliated by her co-wife who was fruitful. She turned to God and prayed desperately for a child. When she received a son, Samuel, she immediately returned him to God as she had promised. When he was in service to the Lord she came each year with a new robe she’d made with love for him. Samuel would see the happy family he had been ‘excluded from’ and who could blame him for resenting his parents and God and rebelling? But he didn’t; he grew in favour with the Lord and with people.
Do you imagine Hannah forgot Samuel when God blessed her with more children? I suspect her love for him was poured out in each stitch in the robe that she made each year; sewn with tears because she missed him, with gratitude that she could do this small act and with prayer to a good God that Samuel would be healthy, well and blessed. Those prayers were effective.
Samuel grew up under the guidance of Eli who had failed so miserably with his own sons that God told Eli that He was rejecting them and raising up a new priest. Eli could have taken that out on Samuel as he saw the signs of God’s blessing. He could have refused to raise this ‘usurper’ who wasn’t even a true Levite but he taught Samuel so that the boy grew in favour with God and man.
What made Samuel successful when his sons, Hophni and Phinehas were such bad examples? Samuel would see them just as much as Eli and they were closer to his age. They were the ‘cool’ ones who got the best food, they had the girls – they did just what they wanted without a care. So why did Samuel not follow their example? I am going to point again to Hannah who prayed for her son.
God doesn’t remove our free will. We can choose to obey or to sin as we wish. But the prayers of those who love us matter. It’s not that God listens to them and makes us obey but those prayers have an impact because they have an effect in the spiritual realm that affects the physical world.
Prayer is powerful, don’t ever give up praying for people and situations because prayer changes things. We might not see the results at once, we might not see the result at all but God is good and He hears and answers our prayers in ways that bring Him glory and that work for our good.
Just like Hannah we can bring to God our deepest concerns and leave them with Him knowing that He loves us, He is faithful and He is good.