Judges 16:28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.”
This is an interesting prayer, with both power and impurity. It has for a starting point a humility that Samson was slow to achieve. He recognized, finally, that it was only God who had given him so much strength in the past, and it was his own disobedience that had stripped him of that strength. That was good, but at the same time, the desire for personal revenge was not good. I don’t know whether his willingness to die in the process had any bearing on the good-or-bad scale. His personal desire was for revenge, but at the same time, the Philistines were actively praising their god for their victory over Samson, and that was reason enough for God to act. This is a very popular story in Sunday School, but it is certainly R-rated at best! Samson is an example of how flawed a person can be and still be used by God. He appears to have done most of his thinking with his gonads, which is hardly the image of a man of God! At the same time, he is a picture of God using us in spite of ourselves, and how it is never too late to recognize our dependence on Him.
I have certainly prayed with mixed motives many times. That’s probably why my prayers haven’t had a higher success rate! By God’s grace I have made it past the age at which my father died, and I am fully aware that it is only by His grace that I can accomplish anything at all. Yesterday he enabled me to do repair work on the ceiling, balanced on a scaffold, and today my body is telling me it didn’t enjoy that! However, by His grace my body will recover, and neither I nor the young man helping me had any injuries, which had been a real concern. The whole matter of motivation for prayer is an important one, for me personally and for my ministry as a pastor. I need to learn from this prayer of Samson that prayer can be effective even when the motivation isn’t pure. Accordingly, I should never be hesitant to pray, or to encourage others to pray. I need to trust the Holy Spirit to sort it all out, (Romans 8:26-27) and just pray.
Father, thank You for Your guidance and protection yesterday. I am very aware of the imperfections in what was done and how, but You got us through it anyway. Help me not hold back from anything You direct because of focusing on my weaknesses, but rather trust You to enable me to do Your will. Thank You that what was done yesterday is not going to increase my personal pride! Help me make the use that You intend of the abilities You have given me, without being personally proud of any of it, so that You alone may be glorified. Thank You. Praise God!