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I would be disobeying the Lord if I stopped praying for you! I will always teach you how to live right. 1 Samuel 12:23

When those around us fail, the natural inclination of our human nature is to write them off as losers. It would be nice if we could say it’s different in the church, but the reality it’s not. Sometimes we ‘graciously’ offer a grace period in which we test the guilty party to see if they are sincere, but if we are honest, we look more for opportunities to condemn than notice the small steps towards restoration.

The Israelites were notorious for having the attitude of a spoiled two-year-old. Time and again they would rebel against God’s commands, repent and enjoy God’s forgiveness and restoration, only to slip back into their old habits of self-serving, idolatrous living.

After being rescued from Egyptian slavery, miraculously provided for during their trek through the wilderness, protected from enemies more powerful than they were and established in the Promised Land, the Israelites looked around at the surrounding nations and begged Samuel for a king because ‘everyone else gets a king, why can’t we?’

In spite of constant warnings of the dangers of having a human king, God finally relented and allowed them to have a king but not without stern warning. Then the Israelites realized their sin, they repented (again) and asked for prayer (could be spelled protection?).

Samuel’s response challenges our ‘normal, human way of thinking’. He promises to continue to pray for the people out of obedience to God. There almost seems to be a bit of ‘horror’ in his words. NOT praying for the people, in Samuel’s view, would be an act of disobedience to God. But he adds another twist. Samuel didn’t just promise to pray for the rebellious Israelites, he promised to teach them in the way they should go. His actions backed up his prayers. He not only interceded for them, he promised to give them the tools to keep from falling again.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the disciples a challenge for the future. He told them to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ Discipleship is building relationship. Discipleship isn’t pointing out the failures of those in our circles; it’s giving them the tools to deal this life attack. We don’t need to be told we are bad, we know that. We need to be shown how to be better.

When the Israelites realized their failure they went to God’s man and received not only prayer for protection but a promise to teach them the ways of Jehovah God. Discipleship takes time and personal interaction. Discipleship isn’t a program but a lifestyle.

When someone you know falls, Paul says to ‘gently restore’ them (Galatians 6:1). Prayer and teaching (time) are two the best ways to restore the broken soul.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you changed everyone you touched by prayer and teaching with patience. Help us to do the same to those in need around us. In your name I pray, Amen.

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