The Prayer of the Selfish

Judges 15:18-20   He became very thirsty and called out to the LORD: “You have accomplished this great victory through Your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?”  So God split a hollow place in the ground at Lehi, and water came out of it. After Samson drank, his strength returned, and he revived. That is why he named it En-hakkore, which is in Lehi to this day. And he judged Israel 20 years in the days of the Philistines.

 

We’ve all done it before. We’ve all done it hundreds, thousands of times. We have each made prayers that could be describe by one word: selfish. We are born as lovers of self, and so it is natural for us to come before God and offer prayers focused on our needs and our desires with no thought given to the glory of God or the good of His people or the salvation of the lost. It might not be easy to admit, but it is easy to get trapped in a habit of only praying for self.

How does God respond to the prayers of the selfish? Does He turn His back on people who failed to begin without a word of praise? Does God look for a holy pattern in every prayer. Thankfully, God never made a prayer checklist in the Bible. People prayed exclusively to praise God and exclusively to confess sins. Some asked for personal needs while others prayed for their country. God doesn’t reject a prayer focused on self alone, but He may choose withhold blessings in response to personal disobedience.

Samson is one of the most fascinating characters in the Bible. He was crude, proud, controlled by his lusts, and disobedient to his parents. Yet Samson was chosen by God to judge Israel, and his prayers were answered with miracles. Samson’s prayer in Judges 15:18-20 sums up Samson’s spiritual life and impact with Israel in one brief account. Samson was used by God in spite of his selfishness to make a minimal impact on the lives of God’s people.

 

God hears the prayer of the selfish

Following a great military victory brought about by Samson’s muscles and a piece of animal bone, Samson finds himself in desperate need. He needs water or he might die of thirst in the wilderness. Samson in his moment of crisis calls out in prayer. His prayer reveals the heart of man looking out only for self.

Samson has the boldness to take the servant title of Moses and saw his hands as the source of power in God’s victory. This is like a star basketball player boasting after hitting the game winning basket by saying, “Our team won a great victory through my amazing basket.” Everyone would see that the player was exalting himself and not the team. God saw Samson’s selfish heart, but He still blessed the man with water.

Your prayers may be selfish, but you can trust that God hears every prayer from His children. Those spoken in a rash of greed or those offered for the blessing of a stranger. Trust that God hears you no matter what your motives may be, and He is never far from His own.

God withholds blessing from the selfish

While God hears every prayer from His children, He does withhold blessings from those who ask in selfishness. Samson was able to do great things for God, but he was never given true peace in his lifetime. Other judges watched over years of peace following their military victories (Judges 8:28). Samson never saw that peace. We only read that he judged Israel 20 years. He did not judge in peace. He judged during a time when the Philistines remained in power.

Understand that a life of selfishness stops you from receiving and experiencing blessings from God. Now those blessings should primarily be seen as eternal rewards laid up in heaven today, but you miss them when you live for your own glory instead of the Father’s. Don’t let your prayer life be defined by selfishness like Samson. Instead come before God seeking His will to be done instead of your own.