Samuel  -  “Heard of God”

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
It is important for us to consider and apprehend how prayer is used in times of difficulty, and we see it strikingly set forth in the case of Samuel. He is himself the gift of prayer, as his name declares (heard of God), and in his service toward Israel he uses prayer above any of his predecessors; in fact, he introduces and proves to us the power of prayer. Other servants of God were distinguished for works of another kind — Samuel, peculiarly for prayer. Great works had been wrought by devoted servants in the times of the judges, but now the failure of Israel is so deep that all service that made something of man is set aside. What God can be and what He can do for them when called on is now declared and shown forth through Samuel. His power — and the secret of his success in service — is prayer. Hence his example is one of great encouragement to us at the present time.
Helped of God
In 1 Samuel 7 we find an instance of deliverance and succor accorded in answer to prayer and the spirit of true dependence in a moment of greatest difficulty.
“Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering [a picture of Christ, the ground of our acceptance], the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.  ...  Then Samuel took a stone, and set it up between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
The Remembrance Stone —
When we have received mercy of the Lord, it is most important that we should own it. We may pray and receive, but the moment which perpetuates the mercy is not the mercy itself, but the Ebenezer — the acknowledgment of the heart of how God has helped and succored us. The mercy conferred was great — a day ever to be remembered by Israel — but it is not the thing done, or even the marvelous way in which it was done, that is the monument of it, but more, it is the testimony of the heart to the unfailing help of God that is the Ebenezer: “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” I know and own Him as my Helper hitherto; the mercy may remain or it may pass away; the Ebenezer ever remains; I have not only received, but I know the One from whom I have received. I have a fixed judgment about Him, and my heart records it. This is the real strength of the heart — and it’s Ebenezer. It is distinct and positive to me that it is His hand that has done all.
I believe that souls lose immensely by not being able to record more distinctly that hitherto God has helped them. It is the experimental knowledge of God which is acquired by true dependence on Him. When we have true confidence in Him because of what He is and He has been to us, we are enabled to go forward in spite of all difficulties, and then we have no self-confidence. Our tendency is not to have full confidence in Him and, though we have prayed, to have few “remembrance monuments” in our hearts of the power and succor of Christ, and then we seek for confidence in ourselves, which easy circumstances tend to feed. One prays largely and fully in proportion as one has confidence in God, and if I really know Him as my Helper, if I have a sure remembrance of His help, I can easily and simply look to Him. The great principle of prayer is that I know the One whom I am addressing, and I am reckoning on His help.
The Sense of Need
In the church of Philadelphia (Rev. 3) there is both the sense of the need of help and the knowledge of the gain of it, whereas the state in Laodicea is a “need of nothing” — no sense of the use of help, for there is no sense of needing it.
We ought to regard prayer as the prelude to blessing, and thus be able to raise our “Ebenezers.” I know what God is, and how He has helped me hitherto, and I am expecting and reckoning on His help. We have not merely to own our weakness and need; that is the first thing, but we have to expect help and succor.
Prayer is a mighty engine through which the resources of God are made available to us. It is as the needy one, not as the self-satisfied and self-confident one, that I avail myself of it, and as I exercise my heart in my “Ebenezers” as touching what He has been to me, the more am I encouraged to go on in faith and to “continue in prayer  ...  with thanksgiving.”
Christian Truth (adapted)