So this is my first post of 2015, and as such I’ll start by saying Happy New Year to you wherever you may be. I truly hope this post finds you well & if not, rest assured in the fact that our God saves.
Without wasting time, Today I want to look at the power of prayer in the midst of problems and trials. For the purpose of this post I will be referencing 1 Samuel 1, which notes the troubles, trials and tribulations of a woman of God named Hannah. Let’s go straight into the word.
1 Samuel 1 vs 1-2 (NASB)
1 Now there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim from the hill country of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives: the name of one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah; andPeninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Looking at Hannah’s situation I can only begin to imagine how she must have felt. Have you ever felt like this? It could be that you feel as though other people around you are being blessed and flourishing and God has forgotten you (I can assure you He hasn’t).
When you’re going through trials it can be so easy to forget how sovereign God truly is. I have yet to meet the person who has never had problems of any kind. The truth is that when we experience difficulties, sometimes it can be of our own making & at other times it is not. The one thing we must bear in mind however is that no matter what the immediate source of our troubles are, God is ultimately sovereign over every situation we find ourselves in.
Let’s stop for a moment and look at what the word sovereign means. A quick search reveals that one who is sovereign exercises supreme & permanent authority. Sovereignty is royal rank, authority, or power.
When this is applied to you and I in our Christian walk, this is really quite profound. We can rest assured as children of God that no matter what we go through or even how we got there, God is in full and total control of the situation and its outcome. Isn’t that amazing!
Roman 8 vs 28 (NASB)
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
We must recognise and learn to accept, that ultimately our problems come from God. I know this is something that some people may find hard to accept. I personally wrestled with this idea for years. I found comfort in believing I was in control of every aspect of my life. I thought I could chose to yield parts of my Iife to God, not understanding that every part of my life was in His control. The word says “For in Him we live move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). This is literally our entire being. We cannot even move outside of Him.
So once we understand this, what should we do in times of hardship and trials? Should we give up & lose hope, become down-trodden or turn away from God?
NO! If we know God is in control should, should we not turn to Him in such times? In fact these things should spur us on to seek him and the result is learning to trust Him as we should. We should be totally dependant upon God for our deliverance in every situation.
Problems are one of the ways in which God graciously teaches us to seek Him in a way we never have before. They teach us obedience, discipline and the fundamental principles of trust. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered.
Hebrews 5 vs 8 (NASB)
8 Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.
Let’s look at how this applied to Hannah’s situation.
1 Samuel 1 vs 3-6 (NASB)
3 Now this man would go up from his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests to the Lord there. 4 When the day came that Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and her daughters; 5 but to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, but the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb.
There is something that must be noted in this passage. We read “The Lord had closed her womb”, and this statement is repeated twice so that we can’t miss it (vs 5,6). Why is this so important to note?
It points out the fact the despite what it may have looked like on the outside, the Lord was the one who had caused her situation. This is something that really hits a chord with me simply because if modern medicine had been available then, the doctors may have found a medical “reason” for her barrenness. But behind the medical reason, there is a clear action of God – “The Lord had closed her womb”.
Sometimes when we go through trials we neglect the fact that God is sovereign. Have you been looking for any explanation for your situation without stopping and turning to God?
Hannah later on in chapter 2 highlights this fact in her prayer:
1 Samuel 2 vs 6-7 (NASB)
6 “The Lord kills and makes alive;
He brings down to [d]Sheol and raises up.
7 “The Lord makes poor and rich;
He brings low, He also exalts.
She understood that whatever she was going through God was at work behind the scenes. This is something that many people struggle to accept, because people only want good things. But we must understand that even in the bad there is purpose – God’s purpose, and ultimately it is for our good.
Job also came to the realisation of this fact after he had endured his trials.
Job 2 vs 10 (NASB)
10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
How did this trial make Hannah feel?
1 Samuel 1 vs 6-8 (NASB)
6 Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. 8 Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
She was so down about this issue, no one could console her. She was left unable to eat or celebrate in worship. What I want to focus on here is not how she felt, but what she did in response to these feelings.
What did Hannah do about her situation?
1 Samuel 1 vs 9-11 (NASB)
9 Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She, [a]greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a [b]son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”
Hannah sought God in a deeper way, she poured out her heart to The Lord. I want to point out again here that problems are God’s way of teaching us to seek Him in a deeper way than we ever have before. Peninnah did not seek God as Hannah did. Why? Because Peninnah didn’t have the need. Note that is was Hannah’s lack that caused her to seek God in a new dimension.
We need to understand the power of prayer and seeking God. Prayer is communicating with the living God. The God who understands our deepest needs and is more than able to both meet and exceed them.
1 cor 2 vs 9 (NASB)
“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”
Prayer is acknowledging and totally depending on God. It is the way in which God has ordained for us as believers to deal with our problems.
Now I want to go much, much deeper here. What and how did Hannah pray? She didn’t just pray “Lord, give me a son”, or “Lord, Peninnah has children, arise and give me mine”, and God gave her a son and that was it.
Not at all! Hannah prayed a radical prayer: “Lord of hosts, if you will give your maidservant a son, then I’ll give him to the Lord all the days of his life and a razor shall never come on his head”.
It meant that she was dedicating her son fully to God in service to become a Nazarite, one set apart to serve God (Numbers 6 vs 1-21).
What does this tell us? It shows us that we should not only pray about our problems, but, WE SHOULD PRAY ACCORDING TO GOD’S PURPOSE.
To understand how in line with Gods will Hannah’s prayer was, we need to understand who this child would become once God had given her a son and met her need. Once God answered Hannah, she had a son named Samuel. Now Samuel was the first prophet in the bible.
Acts 3 vs 24 (NASB)
24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.
Hannah understood that God’s purpose for His people was to raise up His Anointed as King.
1 Samuel 2 vs 10 (NASB)
10 “Those who contend with the Lord will be shattered;
Against them He will thunder in the heavens,
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
And He will give strength to His king,
And will exalt the [e]horn of His anointed.”
“Anointed” is the Hebrew word for “Messiah”. Through Hannah’s prayer, God raised up her son Samuel (the first prophet). Samuel anointed David the King and from David came God’s true Anointed, Jesus Christ.
Now that was one effective prayer! Hannah knew that God’s purpose for His people superseded her personal desire for a son. So although she prayed for a son, she also prayed for God’s greater purpose and willingly yielded her son to meet that purpose.
This is how God wants us to pray – not just to meet our needs, but for His purpose to be fulfilled through our answered prayers.
Jesus said that we are to pray for our daily bread (to meet our needs), but even before that & as a matter of priority, we are to pray, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is heaven.”
The purpose of prayer is not to solve all our problems so that we can live happy, trouble-free, self-centred lives. The purpose of prayer is. To GET GOD’S WILL DONE & to glorify Him!
How can we apply this to our own prayer life?
Let’s say that like Hannah you are unable to have children, and you’re praying for children. That’s fine, but how about praying, “Lord, if you give us children, we’ll do our best to instill in them a vision for those who have never heard the name of Jesus. We’ll yield them to serve you as missionaries some day”.
Or say you are single and you are praying for God to bring you a partner. How about praying, “Lord, bring and prepare for me someone of your choosing. Bring me a partner that you may be glorified through our union, and godly offspring may be produced for your glory in accordance with your word”.
Mal 2 vs 15 (NASB)
15 [a]But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And [b]what did that one do while he was seeking a godly [c]offspring? Take heed then to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.
Or maybe you are unemployed and looking for work or a promotion. How about praying, “Lord, elevate me at my place of work, that those around me may know that you are God. I pray that you will use me in my next role for your glory”.
Exodus 34 vs 10 (NASB)
10 Then [h]God said, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been [i]produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people [j]among whom you live will see the working of the Lord, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.
The Lord met her need.
1 Samuel 1 vs 17-20
17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” 18 She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. 19 Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah [g]had relations with Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20 It came about [h]in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.”
In fact He more than met her need.
1 Samuel 2 vs 21 (NASB)
21 The Lord visited Hannah; and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew before the Lord.
There are some major lessons we can all learn from this passage about the power of effectual, heartfelt prayer. When we go through trials, one of the hardest things to do can be to open your mouth. The enemy often uses our trials and problems to shut us up and turn us away from the one and only solution – our God.
I felt moved to make this my first post of the year, simply because if I can urge you to do anything this year, it is to go deeper with God in prayer.
We forget just how much we have at our disposal and how ready God is to answer our prayers. We are more than conquerors and are the apple of His eye.
In 2015 make prayer and your relationship with God the centre of everything, walk into His will. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
I hope you have been blessed by this post. God bless and keep you always x