Maybe you are not the one who has messed up (THIS time — remember we all do!) What is your responsibility towards those who have sinned? We find one of the most important answers to that question in I Samuel 12:23, where Samuel responds to the people of Israel. They had sinned against God, and in :19 had asked Samuel to intercede for them. Samuel’s response has become one of scripture’s most familiar and best-loved verses: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you.” Despite what the people had done (and if you read the entire context it is clear in no uncertain terms that what they did was hurtful to him personally) he was committed to continue to pray for them.
You too have friends, family, or other loved ones who have “messed up.” Perhaps, like Samuel, you have been hurt by their sin. How are you to respond to them? Scripture gives us a variety of ways we may respond, depending upon the particular situation, but what we find here in I Samuel 12:23 is basic: don’t give up on them, and continue to pray for them.
Samuel’s commitment to pray is actually a very strong one. He didn’t just say, “I will pray for you.” He said it would be “a sin against the LORD” if he did not! Think about that in your relationship with that loved one — it would be a sin against God for you to stop praying for them! Sure, sometimes it seems like our prayers for certain people just “bounce off the ceiling” — but that is no excuse to stop praying.
One of the great pray-ers of all time was George Mueller, who one day put 5 of his friends on his prayer list, as he prayed for their salvation. It was 18 months before the first of them was saved, and then 5 and 6 years before the second two came to Christ. Mueller continued to pray, every day without fail, for the final two friends, until the day he died. He never saw their conversion — but BOTH of those friends were saved following his death!
Mueller should be an encouragement to each of us to pray for those who have strayed. May we imitate his commitment, and say like Samuel of those who have “messed up”: “As for me, far be it from me to sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you”! After all, each of us knows what it is like to “mess up.” If you have found God’s grace, then pray — and show — that same grace to others!
What an excellent reminder that we all mess up. Thank you. I will remember that all my life, and be first to remember when someone messes up.
Amen; thank you for writing, Pat!