photo from http://flickr.com/photos/africaneze101/2497867063/
Judges is a book filled with sin and sexual abuse and slayings and sick sick stuff. In fact, there is so much sadism in this book that there is little room left over for prayer. About the only prayer we see comes in the cries of the people every time their sin results in their misery. These cries are pathetic moans and despairing worries… occasionally bolstered by some repentant hearts… but not always. There are a handful of moments when individuals have conversation with
the Angel of the Lord (which may be the Lord himself- some say even a
pre-incarnate Jesus). One of the only characters of integrity and sincere spirituality in the
book is Deborah… and interestingly, she also seems to be one of the only who dialogues with God on a regular basis. Other than that, there are only a couple brief shout-outs to God. We see no mention of prayer when Ehud slays Eglon, no mention of prayer when Gideon creates an image of false worship, no indication that anyone was praying during Abimilech’s aggression, and nothing remotely resembling healthy prayer from anyone when Jepthah sacrificed his daughter. The great "hero" Samson suffered from prayer constipation and diarrhea. Eventually, at one point, a very frustrated Lord told all the people to stuff it. In effect God told them, "Don’t bother ever talking ot me again… Go ahead and cry out to the gods" they had chosen. "Let them rescue you!" he said.
One sweet direct mention of a person praying to God comes in Judges 13:8. "Then Manoah prayed to the Lord." Manoah and his wife had been told by the Angel of the Lord that a son was to be born to them who would rescue the people from their oppression. (Sound familiar? The whole history of Israel is a precursor to the coming of Jesus… and the book of Judges is about God raising up saviors… but not until Jesus does the salvation stick.) The next verse, Judges 13:9 is a moment of hope in this depraved book. It says, "God answered his prayer."
Unfortunately, there are not many like Manaoh or Deborah in this period of history. What concerns me is that our history today could be told like this. Sin, sex, slayings, sadistic sick stuff. Little prayer.
God, may our generation not reflect the period of the Judges. Send your Spirit to live daily within and among us. Let us be always in prayer. Don’t let us slip away from your voice even for a moment. Let our ears be hungry for your words. Let our mouths be receptive to your heart. All the time. Everyday. Amen.