Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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18 The direction of prayer.

1 Samuel 23: 1-4; 7-8; 10-13

One day news came to David that the Philistines were at Keilah stealing grain from the threshing floors. 2 David asked the Lord, “Should I go and attack them?” “Yes, go and save Keilah,” the Lord told him. 3 But David’s men said, “We’re afraid even here in Judah. We certainly don’t want to go to Keilah to fight the whole Philistine army!” 4 So David asked the Lord again, and again the Lord replied, “Go down to Keilah, for I will help you conquer the Philistines.”  7 Saul soon learned that David was at Keilah. “Good!” he exclaimed. “We’ve got him now! God has handed him over to me, for he has trapped himself in a walled town!” 8 So Saul mobilized his entire army to march to Keilah and besiege David and his men. 10 Then David prayed, “O Lord, God of Israel, I have heard that Saul is planning to come and destroy Keilah because I am here. 11 Will the leaders of Keilah betray me to him?  And will Saul actually come as I have heard? O Lord, God of Israel, please tell me.” And the Lord said, “He will come.” 12 Again David asked, “Will the leaders of Keilah betray me and my men to Saul?” And the Lord replied, “Yes, they will betray you.” 13 So David and his men—about 600 of them now—left Keilah and began roaming the countryside. Word soon reached Saul that David had escaped, so he didn’t go to Keilah after all.

Where does prayer fit in your decision making process? David made multiple trips to his prayer closet and got “confirmations” from God before he launched out. There are many people that I know who daringly move forward saying, “I feel good about this” so I am going ahead with this marriage, job, purchase, decision. Who do you turn to for direction, the Father or your feelings? In the previous chapter Saul murdered 85 of the Lord’s priest and he is after David’s blood, David is shattered by the news. Now, the next scene (chapter) opens with the people approaching David: “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah, and they are robbing the threshing floors.” Now, David did not send them back saying, “I’m upset and in no mood to help people” instead, David went to God in prayer, he made a decision to seek the Father over feelings. A true warrior of God does not react but interacts with God for his people! David does not react emotionally and impulsively but enquires of the Lord, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The Lord said, “go”.

Now having been demoralized by the things of the past, David’s men responded by questioning this move, “Look, we are afraid here in Judah. How much more then, if we go to Keilah against the armies of the Philistines?”  Their reasoning was based on their past experiences not God’s spoken word so they used their own reasoning to determine their direction. Common sense would say “when we are not safe with our own guys, how much more against the enemies”. David could have listened to their advice and allowed it to direct his life but instead he again goes to the Lord in prayer and the Lord says, ‘Arise, go down to Keilah.’ Where do you go for direction, who do you listen to? Do you seeking the Lord first in prayer? Prayer keeps your focus on Him.

What followed was : “David and his men went to Keilah and fought with the Philistines, struck them with a mighty blow, and took away their livestock. So David saved the inhabitants of Keilah.”  Here we learn two things:

  • Obedience to God’s direction for our lives brings victory

David didn’t just pray, David also obeyed, prayer is not just talking (asking) but it is also listening (hearing). When you hear from God do you obey? Victory for God’s people always starts with prayer.

  • As David followed God so his men followed him.

The direction that we take doesn’t just affect our lives. The person that follows lust or liqueur, laziness or lying doesn’t just bring themselves to ruin but destroys their family also. Do you want victory or defeat, who has God called you to lead, what direction do you want them to go?

At this point in the story we are remind of what prayer really is and what it’s not, we are given a clear picture of fake prayer. Saul said, “God has delivered him into my hand, for he has shut himself in by entering a town that has gates and bars.” Notice that Saul is claiming to hear from God also, the evil and wicked man who has just slaughtered 85 priests of the Lord said that He heard God. Saul is saying that it is God’s will that he kills David! Many of us will say that we have heard from God simply because what we want lines up, so we try to use God to validate our plans. Prayer is not getting God to listen to you but us listening to Him.

David again prayed to God: “Will the men of Keilah deliver me into his hand? Will Saul come down?” The Lord replied: YES. Again there are two thing that we learn:

  • God wants to reveal his plan and direction to us.

From the beginning God makes His ways crystal clear, David asks and God reveals.

  • God’s direction can be trusted.

How do you think David felt when he heard that the people of Keilah, for whom he had fought against their enemies, would give him up and turn him over to the enemy? This is what you call being stabbed in the back. Get ready for betrayals and hurts when you follow the Lord whole-heartedly. David dusted off the pain of betrayal and rejection, two of the deepest hurts we can experience, and got ready to move. He understood that only God is completely faithful, people will fail us.

The next verses bring tears to my eyes because I can relate with David’s pain, the Bible says: “So David and his men, about six hundred, arose and departed from Keilah and began roaming the countryside. After faithfully and consistently seeking direction from the Lord David finds himself on the run, homeless, the man of God had no place to rest! So what do we learn from prayer.

  • Better to be homeless than directionless
  • Better to wander in the desert than wonder about our Fathers will.
  • Never be moved by flesh but in faith wait for His will
  • Better to pray again and again than make wrong moves
  • Don’t let other’s negative opinion derail you from God’s will
  • There is victory in obedience
  • Don’t bask in victory too long, be alert, the enemy will be planning their next attack
  • God’s path may not always be a ‘comfort zone’ but it is always a ‘safety zone.’