Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “LORD of Armies, if You will take notice of Your handmaid’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your maidservant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life…”
1 Samuel 1:10-11
Have you ever been part of a time of prayer with other Christians? How often do our prayers rise from praying for personal comfort, safety, or circumstances to actually praying for devotion, boldness, and faithful participation in the mission of God? Thy kingdom come!
Scripture introduces us to some incredibly powerful - and ANSWERED - prayers, the likes of which many in churches today will never hear echoed in our so-called “times of prayer.”
After the disciples were threatened against speaking or teaching in the Name of Jesus Christ ever again and released from prison they prayed… “...And now, Lord, consider their threats, and enable Your servants to speak Your word with complete boldness, as You stretch out Your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” -Acts 4:29-30
What was the result of the Disciples’ prayer from Acts 4:29-30? Although the people regarded them highly, no one else dared to dabble (like Ananias and Sapphira). Yet more and more faithful were brought to the Lord—large numbers of both men and women. -Acts 5:13-14
After the nation of Israel forged and worshiped the Golden Calf while Moses was atop Sinai, Moses later prayed… “Now if indeed I have found favor in Your sight, please let me know Your ways, that I may know You and find favor in Your sight. Remember that this nation is Your people.” -Exodus 33:13
What was the result of Moses’ prayer from Exodus 33:13? So the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, for you have found favor in My sight, and I know you by name.” -Exodus 33:17
King David prayed for the nations to turn away from sin and idols to the LORD, singing… “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and attend to my plea for mercy… Teach me Your way, O LORD, that I may walk in Your truth. Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Your name… Show me a sign of Your goodness, that my enemies may see and be ashamed…” -Psalm 86
What was the result of King David’s prayer from Psalm 86 for God’s mercy upon the nations? “...because of God’s merciful compassion, the Dawn (Jesus Christ) will visit us from on high, to shine on those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” -Luke 1:78-79
Before asking King Artaxerxes for permission to return and rebuild Jerusalem, Nehemiah prayed… “O Lord, may Your ear be attentive to my prayer and to the prayers of Your servants who delight to revere Your name. Give Your servant success this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” -Jeremiah 1:11
What was the result of Nehemiah’s prayer for permission to rebuild Jerusalem in Nehemiah 1:11? “...it pleased the king to send me.” -Nehemiah 2:6. It also foreshadowed Christ’s Body & Bride ushering in the New Jerusalem, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb… Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.” -Revelation 21:23-25
Following the time of the Judges, the spiritual climate of the nation is summed up in one verse, “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did whatever they saw fit to do in their own eyes.” -Judges 21:25. Imagine things being so bad in Israel that Naomi and her family moved to Moab (Israel’s sworn enemies!) for relief. That’s the setting at the opening of the book of Ruth. The only bright spots in the whole story are Naomi, Ruth (her daughter-in-law), and Boaz (the aging kinsman redeemer).
As 1 Samuel opens, we read about a woman named Hannah. She’s married to a bottom-feeding polygamist named Elkanah. We read in 1 Samuel 1:6, Because the LORD had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival (Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah) would provoke her and taunt her viciously. Instead of demanding anything from God, instead of speaking into things too vast and wonderful for her to comprehend, instead of seizing the opportunity to get one back on Peninnah… Instead, we read, Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “LORD of Armies, if You will take notice of Your handmaid’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your maidservant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life…”
1 Samuel 1:10-11
The beauty of Hannah’s prayer is that it wasn’t about Hannah at all. It wasn’t about falling into favor with Elkanah or getting back at Peninnah either. Hannah’s prayer was all about God, His will, His plan, His mission, and His everlasting glory. Hannah prayed for the blessing of a son who would be dedicated unto the Lord. A son who would grow up loving and serving God alone. A son who would become a strong godly man and leader who’d change the fatefully eroding trajectory of Israel. Israel, a nation chosen and set apart by God Himself as holy and a kingdom of mediators to draw all the nations of the world into the loving light and boundless compassion of the one true God!
How was Hannah’s prayer answered? We read, So in the course of time, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked for him from the LORD” 1 Samuel 1:20. Samuel was the devoted leader and faithful prophet who anointed the young shepherd boy, David, as King toward the end of his life and ministry.
Many centuries later, our incarnate King, Jesus, said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing… If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples.” -John 15:5-7
We can learn much from the powerful, expectant, and God-honoring prayers of the faithful saints of Scripture. It doesn’t mean we have to stop praying for healing, comfort, and circumstances to change, but we certainly shouldn't leave it there. Nor can we intentionally continue walking in sin and hope King Jesus will answer any of our prayers (see Prov 28:9). As born-again believers, we’ve been invited by our King, just as those faithful servants of Scripture were, to devote our lives to The Lamb of God and His everlasting glory.
What about you? Do your tears go beyond sorrow to the will, vision, mission, and kingdom of God? Will you pray another prayer of personal blessings, comfort, safety, healing, and security, or will you pray a Hannah prayer? You don't have to pray for God to choose you. He already did in Christ Jesus! The question is, will you endeavor to pray that God would use you to change the trajectory, climate, and culture of a hopelessly depraved and fallen world whose only hope is Jesus?
There's no denying the evidence that our Sovereign Savior always -ALWAYS- answers those kinds of prayers. He spilled His blood, in fact, gave up His very life to prove it. He's just waiting for you to pray like Hannah... beyond sorrow.
Grace and Peace,
-Kevin M. Kelley
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