Samuel Sunday School Lesson Topic Discussion

1.What experiences in Samuel’s life equipped him to pray effectively? What personal experiences have taught you how to pray?
Samuel grew up in the temple surrounded by the leaders of God’s people. He had a mother who modeled a life of fervent prayer. He was called by God as a prophet and served as a judge of God’s people. Sometimes the very experience of being thrown into leadership causes a person to pray more fervently.
As a general rule, most of us pray more out of need than from self-discipline. Thus when we step out into ministries that are larger than our abilities, we pursue prayer as the only available means to fulfill our tasks for God! To move from praying primarily out of need to praying out of self-discipline is a mark of spiritual maturity.
2.What should biblical repentance look like today? Does Samuel’s four-part process still apply? Why, or why not?
We often think of repentance as feeling sorry for our personal sins. But biblical repentance also requires a change of our will. That is, we change our allegiance from the world (or self) to God. But there is more. Biblical repentance includes recompense (Exodus 22:1-15; Numbers 5:5-8:Luke 19:8). That is, we make restitution to the one wronged whenever possible. Furthermore, the concept of repentance in the Bible often has a plural subject. Thus it is not merely something an individual does (as important as that is), it is also a group activity. National repentance, especially one accompanied by a fast, is very biblical.
3. If God called you to be a Samuel in the twenty-first century, how would you lead your nation to repentance? What activities would you call people to participate in?
We must be careful here not to allow this to become a political debate. However, there are some things in the Bible that are beyond question. For example, idolatry is the main thing that Samuel called his own people to repent of. But we should not restrict our thinking of idols as being merely blocks of wood and stone. Idols of the heart are most displeasing to God (Ezekiel14:4, 7; Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5, 6). Unfortunately, the casual use of the word idol, as in the TV show American Idol, has desensitized many to the sobering nature of the word. Certainly, sexual immorality is a blight that calls for repentance; it is listed alongside idolatry in 1 Corinthians 5:10, 11. The ease with which we abort babies must make God sad. Our list could include violence, neglect of the poor, abuse of women, and abandonment of children. As always, repentance begins in our own hearts. We may not pour out water on the ground as did Samuel; we may write letters to sponsors of lurid TV programs instead.
4.What kind of an Ebenezer could we raise today? In other words what kinds of memorials could we establish that would remind us to pray for our nation and repent of our sins?
Every year the ancient Israelites were to ob-serve a Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). It was a time of national repentance. Some Christian groups have similar observances surrounding Easter or (in America) the anniversary of the court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Could we participate in such traditions? Could we combine a national day of prayer with a fast for forgiveness? Could we use the Lord’s Supper as an Ebenezer that would re-mind us to repent as a church? Try to create a realistic list of Ebenezer events you could practice.
5.What are the various kinds of prayers and petitions that we could lift up to God? Which kind do you pray most often? Why?
Obviously, there are different kinds of prayers. Help your students think through the following: praise (honoring God for who He is and what He has done), confession of sins (both individual and corporate), thanksgiving (recognizing and appreciating God’s provisions), requests (presenting our needs before God for healing, provision, comfort, guidance, and strength), imprecation(praying against some person, thing, idea or behavior that stands in the way of God’s church),intercession (asking God to help someone else, whether an individual or a nation). This last kind of prayer is the focus of this lesson. Perhaps you could end by putting this one into practice.