Disobedience may seem like an odd topic for a prayer gathering, but it was the message that God laid on Will Graham’s heart as he addressed a large crowd at the Ozark Mountain Prayer Breakfast in Branson, Missouri, for the 2023 National Day of Prayer on Thursday.
In a message that he titled “99% obedience is 100% disobedience,” Graham explained the circumstances of 1 Samuel 15. In the passage, God instructed Saul to “go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have…” (1 Samuel 15:3a, NKJV). Saul mostly did as he was told, but spared Agag, the king of the Amalekites, as well as the best of the livestock, which he claimed to save as a sacrifice to God.
This grieved the prophet Samuel, who confronted Saul, saying, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22, NKJV).
Graham recalled the words of Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse, who famously said, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” Graham then turned his attention to the gathered assembly at the Branson Convention Center.
“Disobedience grieves the heart of God, and there are some of you here today who are grieving the heart of God. Does your heart ache when you see disobedience in your own life?” he asked.
“God is weeping over our nation. He’s weeping over our churches. He’s weeping over our homes. He’s weeping over us because we’re a disobedient people.”
He continued, “Today we’ll blame everyone else for our own disobedience. We’ll blame others. We’ll blame rules. We’ll blame the government. We’ll blame the side of the tracks we were born on. We’ll blame economics. We’ll blame our parents. We’ll blame somebody, or we’ll blame everyone, for our disobedience.”
The problem, as Graham pointed out, is that this disobedience drives people away from God and hardens their hearts to His leading.
“Disobedience will cause you to get separated from God. You’ll get further and further from God, until you can no longer hear God or no longer want to listen to God,” he said. “That may be the case for some of you here right now. God is far from your life. God’s not the center of your life.”
“Maybe you say, ‘I’ve been praying. I just don’t hear anything from God. God’s not speaking to me,’” he continued. “My friend, it’s not God. It’s us. We’re the ones that move, that leave, that go our own way instead of following the things of God.”
Turning the conversation from the problem to the remedy, Graham said, “We’re called to repent. How can we expect other people in this world to repent of sin when we as Christians don’t do it first? As believers, we’re called to repent. When’s the last time you confessed your sins before God? What God wants is a repentant heart.”
Never missing an opportunity to share the Gospel—even at a Christian gathering—Graham finished his time by giving an opportunity for those in the audience to return to Jesus and make a decision to follow Him, before leading a closing time of prayer.
“I pray, my friends, that God will keep your heart soft, cut it from time to time and get those callouses off. You’ll never be disappointed when God brings you back into the fold and continues to use you in a lifetime of service, living by faith.”