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Calling on the Name of the Lord: Historical Books

By Gianluca Cueva

Can you look back at your life and sojourn here on earth and think of prayers you’ve said that have shaped your journey?

This week we look at the historical books of Scripture. From Joshua to Kings, from the trials of entering the promised land to the trials and reign of king Solomon, we see that the people of God pray big prayers that shape and influence salvation history.

We begin with Joshua, the successor to Moses and the one who would lead the Israelites into the promised land. However, the first prayer we see is not one of praise but lament. Due to Israel’s sin in the promised land they are defeated at Ai (7:6-12). But even in their defeat, Joshua calls on the Lord to make good on his promises. And not only in their defeat, but also in their time of need (10:12-14). In perhaps one of the most iconic scenes in salvation history, we see God answer Joshua’s prayer, by literally moving heaven and earth (or better yet, stopping heaven and earth) to make good on his promises. In need or defeat, prayer asks for God to come through.

But soon after Joshua’s death, we are told that during those days “Israel had no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes'' (Judg. 21:25). And in perhaps one of the most dangerous times in Israel’s history (Judg. 20), especially for women (Judg. 19), we see a group of women rise up. From Deborah’s prayer and song (Judg. 5), to the prayers of the women in Ruth (Ru. 4), to Hannah’s prayer (1 Sam. 2), each of the prayers and acts of these Old Testament saints follow and continue in the flow of God’s covenantal promises. Heaven and earth may not have been moved, but without these prayers, salvation history wouldn’t be what it is today. They remind us that whoever we are, leaders and judges, or immigrants and foreigners, the Lord uses anyone’s prayers to shape redemption history.

This dark season however would soon change as Israel is given their first king. In Saul we have a king with only one recorded prayer (1 Sam. 14:37-41). If we look at his (for the most part) non-existent prayer life, we see that he did not consider the covenantal promises of God nor pray accordingly. In great contrast, the shepherd boy turned king, David, does have a heart after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14). We see his prayers littered throughout Scripture, calling on the name of the Lord and on his covenantal promises (2 Sam. 7:28-29). However, most often than not, when it comes to prayer, many of us are neither like David nor Saul, but more like king Solomon. Our prayers are mixed in their desires and motives, asking for our own purposes and for God’s purposes (1 Kg. 3:6-9).

Throughout our journeys we’ve all seen and experienced different prayers, prayed by different people for different reasons with different outcomes. And like Hannah, we may not know the impact our prayers will have down the road, but we can trust God will make good on his covenantal promises. So let us not grow weary and continue to call on the name of the Lord.