"It was a disastrous defeat, in which Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured." —1 Samuel 4:10-11
How many people have prayed to the Lord when things went bad, and then things got worse? The Israelites suffered four thousand casualties when they were defeated by the Philistines (1 Sm 4:2). Then the Israelites brought forth the ark of the covenant and "lost thirty thousand foot soldiers"! (1 Sm 4:10) Prayer changes things — sometimes for the worse.
Sometimes things get worse after we pray because we are not obeying the Lord. "When one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Prv 28:9). "Does the Lord so delight in holocausts and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord?" (1 Sm 15:22) Prayer without obedience is often an attempt to manipulate the Lord, and He will not let us use and abuse Him in this way. The writer of the book of James wrote: "You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, with a view to squandering what you receive on your pleasures" (Jas 4:3). Jesus said: "None of those who cry out, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of God but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven" (Mt 7:21).
The Lord commands us to pray always (Lk 18:1), but that will be pleasing to Him and beneficial to us only if we obey always. Obey and pray.
Prayer: Father, I repent of disobedience. I will go to Confession as soon as possible.
Promise: "The leprosy left him then and there, and he was cured." —Mk 1:42
Praise: Julie had attempted suicide many times. Jesus delivered her and set her free as she was reading Psalm 6.
Reference: (For related teaching, order our leaflet, Obedience School.)
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, June 1, 1997
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 9, 1997