Very early on in the Bible we discover that having our prayers answered is not dependent on either proper form or our goodness. Samson is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. His strength is tied to keeping a vow that includes not cutting his hair. However, outside the conditions of his vow he does not keep the law of God. He does have a relationship with God, but I don’t think it is one I would want to copy. Samson’s prayer provides an excellent example of a self-centered prayer. Definitely not a prayer we would want to copy.
A Thirsty Prayer
Now Samson was very thirsty, and he cried out to the Lord, “You have accomplished this great victory by the strength of your servant. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of these pagan people?” So God caused water to gush out of a hollow in the ground at Lehi, and Samson was revived as he drank. Then he named that place “The Spring of the One Who Cried Out,” and it is still in Lehi to this day.Judges 15:18,19 NLT
God has a plan. After 40 years of disciplining the Israelites at the hands of the Philistines God decides to send them a deliverer. That deliverer is Samson. God gives Samson great strength and with that strength Samson takes vengeance on the Philistines. Samson doesn’t come to God with a request. Instead he makes a demand and God provides exactly what Samson asks for. God has a plan and it certainly won’t come to pass if Samson dies, so he causes water to come out of the ground. I don’t think God is even surprised when Samson names the spring after himself. God isn’t looking for credit or thanks. The water flows from His power and goodness to accomplish His will.
A Prayer of Vengeance
Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me one more time so that I may pay back the Philistines for the loss of my eyes.” Then Samson put his hands on the center pillars of the temple and pushed against them with all his might. “Let me die with the Philistines,” he prayed. And the temple crashed down on the Philistine leaders and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.Judges 16:28-30 NLT
Samson does pray one more time and his attitude is different this time, but I don’t think it is his attitude that motivates God to answer the prayer with a yes. God desires to destroy the Philistines and Samson’s request is in line with God’s will.
I think one of the first lessons we must learn is to stop trying to manipulate God through prayer into helping us accomplish our will. Instead, the more we surrender to God’s will and desire to see it accomplished the more likely we are to see God at work through us and our prayers.