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Prayer Starts with Repentance (1 Samuel 28:6–7)

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“And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, ‘Seek out for me a woman who is a medium that I may go to her and inquire of her.’ And his servant said to him, ‘Behold, there is a medium at Endor.’
-1 Samuel 28:6–7

This is a really sad couple of verses. As we see Saul seeking God, not hearing what he wants to hear, and so Saul decides to look for answers elsewhere, just like that, instead of considering, why might God be silent in this situation? What do I need to do in repentance or in just waiting on God with patience? Instead, he immediately does that which God has explicitly, specifically said not to do.

God help us to come before you humbly, daily, continually, quick to confess sin in our hearts.

And as I see this picture in Saul, I can’t help but to think about this tendency in my own life, and I’m guessing in yours, in a variety of different ways. We don’t know all the details about why God did not answer Saul in this situation. Obviously, we’re led to believe that much of it has to do with Saul’s disobedience to God.

And so when we pray, we do need to start with confession of sin. We need to come before God, even before asking Him for this or that, or seeking Him for wisdom and direction in this way or that way, to make sure that we are walking in obedience to Him, that we’re honest with Him about where we have sinned or are sinning against Him.

To think that it’s possible for you and I to come to God and to say, “God, please direct me in this way or that way,” when we are disobeying the specific direction He has given us in His Word in this or that area of our lives. And so we need to be careful to evaluate our hearts, our lives, our obedience to God as we seek Him.

And then in times where it may seem God is silent and we’re walking in obedience to Him to wait on Him and never to give up on asking. I just think about the parable Jesus told in Luke, chapter 18, when he said, “He told them this parable to teach them.” So let me lead us to pray based on this picture in Saul and this tendency in all of our hearts.

Oh God, we ask that you would teach us to pray. God help us to come before you humbly, daily, continually, quick to confess sin in our hearts. God, I confess even now. It would be hypocritical if I didn’t lead this podcast episode without confessing before you and those who are listening right now my tendency to come before you and to ask for this or that, or even to seek direction in this way or that way and meanwhile, I’ve not been honest with you about sin. I’ve not stopped to examine my heart before you and to confess sin before you.

God, we pray that we would be quick to confess sin. God that by your spirit, you would convict us of sin and that we would respond to your conviction immediately in repentance. God, please keep me, please keep us from asking you for direction in this way or that way while ignoring your clear direction in your Word in this way or that way in our lives.

And then God, we pray, that even when we were walking in obedience to you and we have confessed our sin before you, in moments where it seems like you are silent or you’re not answering in the way we might want or in the timing we might want, God, we pray you would help us to trust in you. God, that we would never, never then go outside of coming to you thinking, “Well, if God’s not answering, I’m going to do this or that.”

God, please help us to walk obediently with you, to walk patiently with you, to seek you, to ask and keep on asking, and knock and keep on knocking and to trust that you hear the prayers of your children as we humbly walk in obedience to you as we confess our sin continually before you as we receive your grace and as we seek your direction. God teach us to pray in light of First Samuel 28, verse six through seven.

Jesus, we praise you for making all of this possible, for making confession and forgiveness of sin possible, for making communion with God possible, for making petition and intercession before God possible. You are our Savior, our Lord, our King, our Intercessor, and we worship you. We pray all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
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