A Prayer for Instruction

Chapter 8

Theme: A Prayer for Instruction
Focus on: Manoah
Reading Portion(s): Judges 13
– Important Background Information
– Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
God listens when we ask for instructions. This is especially true when these instructions are very important for future life and work. This kind of a prayer is very useful when the instructions given the first time need to be heard again to be understood fully.

Such a prayer can be prayed only by persons who understand the responsibility that God places on them. Sadly many understand that they need to take responsibility but still do not think of it seriously. Only when we give high priority to what God has to say to us will we pray for instruction. And those who pray for instruction pray thus only because they are determined to obey them. When a person prays thus with the intention of obeying as well as taking responsibility for what God has committed into his hands and care; God answers his prayer for instruction. And He sends messengers to instruct him.

The Book of Judges give us a pattern: The Israelites sin and disobey God. Then God gives them to the hand of their enemies. This makes the Israelites cry out to God. And God in His mercy raises up for them Judges or Deliverers who rescues them.

In this passage we come across one such situation. Now the Israelites were under the Philistines because of the evil they had done. The oppression of these enemies continued for forty years. And God chose to act at this point of time. He sent the angel of the Lord who appeared to a sterile and childless woman. He promised her that she will give birth to a son. She was also commanded not to drink wine or other fermented drink and not to eat anything unclean. The boy’s hair was not to be cut. This was because the boy was to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth. The angel also said that the boy will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.

Now when the angel had come the woman was alone. So she went to her husband Manoah and told him the glad news. She described to her husband the awesomeness of the angel as well as the rules to govern the life of the child.

But strangely we do not find Manoah celebrating on account of this glad news. Actually this was an occasion they should have really celebrated because to Manoah’s barren wife a child was to be born. Why was this so? It was so because Manoah had a different kind of heart than others. He had a different list of priorities. He must have been really happy that a child was to be born. But he was more conscious of the responsibility that the angel of the Lord had entrusted to them. And this responsibility was no ordinary one. It demanded that his wife be careful to observe many things during pregnancy. It also demanded that the boy be set apart to God from birth itself. No wonder Manoah was found praying to God immediately as he heard the glad news.

Manoah prayed for instruction. He wanted God to sent the man who was sent earlier to them and teach them how to bring up the boy to be born. He pleaded with God. It was a very short prayer. But it was so earnest that God heard him.

As a result the angel of the Lord appeared again to Manoah’s wife. She hurried to tell her husband. Manoah came and confirmed that it was the same person who had appeared earlier to his wife. Then he asked the angel to tell them the rules to govern the boy’s life and work when his words would be fulfilled. Then they were instructed.

As we look at God’s promise to this couple we find that it was not born out of their prayer. The promise to give them a son was God-initiated. Neither Manoah nor his wife disbelieved the promise. But they did not give first priority to celebration but to prayer. This should help us to learn a lesson.

The lesson is that we should seek God’s instruction in prayer when God initiates good things for us. When God promises to begin our deliverance we have to seek God all the more before we start rejoicing. For God to fulfill His promise we need to obey the things He wants us to do. But we cannot correctly follow the guidelines given unless we are thoroughly instructed. This can happen only through prayer. We need to plead with God to give us understanding as to what to do to make His promise come true. It is not the length of your praying that matters but it is earnestness that counts. Then God shall hear and answer your prayer.

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