Israel wanted an earthly king. They desired to be like the pagan nations around them. Therefore, God called Samuel to select, ordain, and install a Benjamite named Saul.
Israel’s new king was young, tall, strong, good looking, and quite talented. In the early days of Saul’s monarchy, God’s chosen nation felt pretty good about their new leader.
However, Samuel soon rained on their regal parade. In requesting a human king, Israel had rejected their God. This was a great wickedness they had done in the sight of the Lord, and one day they would regret their transgression. (1 Samuel 8:7; 12:17; 12:19)
But God and Samuel did not leave the foolish Israelites in despair. Through Samuel, God called them to do the next right thing. They and their new king were to fear, serve, and obey the Lord’s voice. (1 Samuel 12:14-15) This would be right, good, pleasing, and profitable.
God then supported Samuel’s sermon by means of a storm. Before the congregation, Samuel called upon God to send down thunder and rain, and the Lord did so with such gusto that Samuel’s brothers and sisters were filled with great fear.” (1 Samuel 12:16-18)
At this point, the people begged Samuel,
Pray for your servants to the Lord … (1 Samuel 12:19)
Samuel then promised,
Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you … (1 Samuel 12:23)
Throughout the Bible, God called upon individuals to be priestly intercessors:
- Patriarchs — like Noah, Job, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
- Priests — like Melchizedek, Moses, Aaron, and the Levites
- Prophets — like Deborah, Samuel and Elijah
- Kings — like David and Solomon
- Leaders — like Nehemiah and Mordecai
All these knew intercession was something desired and commanded by God. All these knew supplication was something desperately needed by men. All these knew, like Samuel, that to forsake such would be sinful.
Then came Jesus Christ. He was the perfect Patriarch, Priest, Prophet, Judge, and King. Consistently, he called upon his Heavenly Father to heal, exorcize, and save. And upon receiving his royal crown, robe, and throne, he still supplicates for his friends by name. Jesus is the perfectly faithful priestly intercessor.
And today, God calls all his disciples — male and female — to be priestly intercessors. The scriptural authors exemplify this (Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12), and they call all of us to follow their lead. (Romans 15:30; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 4:3; James 5:16; Galatians 6:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, 25; 1 Timothy 2:1; 1 John 5:16) Clearly, all of us are to be priests in the Father’s international house of prayer.
Therefore — ministers, elders, and deacons — let’s review our job description and recommit ourselves to brotherly prayer. Let’s be busy, very busy, showering grace upon our congregants by means of our priestly intercession.
Brothers and sisters — let us recommit to praying for the spiritual, emotional, financial, relational, and physical needs of one another. Let’s partner with Jesus — the Great High Priest — and take one another before the throne of God above.
Brothers and sisters — let us recommit to faithful involvement in small groups, fellowship groups, life groups, community groups, shepherding groups, discipleship groups, youth groups, men’s groups, women’s groups, Sunday school classes, or whatever else you call them. In order for you to know and be known, in order for people to pray appropriately for you, and in order for you to develop your own personal prayer list that covers the personal needs of your brothers and sisters, you have to be regularly fellowship and commune. This cannot be done in the big church service alone. Smaller groups and gatherings are essential.
Friends, can’t you imagine such a family. Can’t you imagine hundreds of people gathering for large group corporate prayer on Sunday morning. Then, can’t you imagine dozens of small groups of people meeting at other times, gracing one another by means of prayer. Prayer is powerful and effective; let’s do it more and more.