2011-04-15 - Hannah Prayed
Originally Preached 2004-10-13
We all have problems at different times in our lives. Some of the problems are little and others are big. For about two years Dana and I had a problem. We couldn't have a child. We wanted one, we tried to have one, we visited specialists but we could not have one. And then we just left it up to God and put it all in his hands. And now we have a great little boy two of them in fact. There was a lady in Old Testament times who had a similar problem - Hannah. And for her it was a big problem. Being barren was a serious problem back then; back then having children was one of a woman's main purposes.
Let's look at Hannah's story.
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-20
Hannah means grace. Hannah was her husband's favorite. But she still had problems. Even under God's grace we can have problems. She was barren and perhaps ashamed. You too may have a big problem in your life - an illness, a job situation, financial woes, death, divorce, or whatever. Hannah had a problem and she prayed about it. And God responded to her prayers. In verse 19 it says the Lord remembered her and in verse 20 she conceived and gave birth to a child. The name of her child Samuel means heard of God. Hannah was heard of God. How Hannah approached prayer played an important part in her prayers being answered as they were. Hannah was hurting but God responded and resolved her problem. You too can be heard if you pray as Hannah prayed.
How Hannah Prayed
Verse 10 says Hannah was "in bitterness of soul". That verse continues saying she "wept much and prayed to the LORD". She prayed out of an "abundance of [her] complaint and grief" according to verse 16. In other words she was in great anguish and grief. She was hurt by Peninnah's taunts. She was perhaps ashamed of her barrenness. She was bitter and hurt. Her emotions were intense. And so she prayed intensely. She took that intensity to God and began to pray like she never prayed before. She prayed "in her heart" according to verse 13. Now the heart back then was not the emotions; the gut was your emotional center. Your heart was the center of your being where your emotional gut met with your intellectual mind and formed who you were. She prayed with all she had. As it records in verse 15, she "poured out [her] soul to the LORD". She prayed intensely.
And she prayed specifically. There in verse 11, she didn't just say she had a problem for God to solve. She gave details. She didn't pray just for a child but she prayed for "a man child". And even more specifically she prayed for a son which she could give "unto the Lord".
Also in verse 11, she refers to God as the "Lord of hosts" or "Lord Almighty" and herself as his "handmaid" or servant. She was praying humbly. She knew her place and she knew God's place. In our pride we proclaim, "I can do it. I can solve it." In an act of humility, she shouted, "I can't do it only you God can do it. Please do it for me."
Verse 12 tells us "she continued praying". Like Hannah we are to pray continually and steadfastly. Don't give up. Pray often and pray long. Let's look at Luke 18:1-8, Jesus' story of a judge who doesn't care about anything but does as the woman asks because she is persistent. Persistence pays off.
Verse 13 says as Hannah prayed, "her lips moved, but her voice was not heard". She didn't care if men heard her or not; she was praying to God. She prayed upwardly not outwardly. The words of Jesus on this subject can be found in Matthew 6:5-6.
The Pharisee and those like him who pray a nice pretty prayer have their reward - the praise of men. Hannah was after more; she was after the promises of God.
Hannah also prayed to the "Lord of Hosts" or in other words to the God of all the armies of angels. She recognized his power. Also in verse 11, she prayed "if you will" not "if you can". She recognized also that his power far exceeded her need. Her God had no limits. But often we limit God. Matthew 15:38 records, "And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." Jesus did very little in his hometown due to disbelief. I don't remember where I read it but I read this statement once and believe it to be very true. "The size of your God determines the size of your prayer request. The size of your prayer request, determines the size of your answers." Another man I know named John Paone has said before "Dream so big you're destined to fail without Him." Like Hannah we are to pray powerfully.
As Hannah got up from praying the Bible records that "her countenance was no more sad" . Take your burden to God and leave it. Don't pick it back up. Leave it with Jesus knowing God will answer in the best way possible. Romans 8:28 tells us all things work for good and according to his will and purpose. You can rejoice and be sad no more knowing that God is in control. Hannah prayed expectantly. She prayed and expected God to answer. She had faith - F-A-I-T-H, full assurance in the heart. She had found assurance in the heavens. She had mustard seed faith.
Luke 17:6 - And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
With faith of mustard seed, faith the size of a single speck of pepper, we could move sycamore tree or mountain (Matthew 21:21). Hannah had that faith. The very next day we find her as she "worshipped before the Lord". She worshipped. She gave thanks and praise to God before the prayer was answered. Read John 11:41-43. Jesus thanked God before Lazarus's resurrection. He thanked God before the request was even put forth. We can have hope like that. We can either have H-O-P-E hope in the world or H-O-P-E hope in God. Hope in the world consists of holding onto personal expectations but hope in God means holding onto promises eternal.
Verse 19 says, "Elkanah knew his wife". She put some action behind her words. She prayed actively. Too often we pray God bless me while I just sit here and wait. God blesses us as we go and do what he'd have us to do.
Hannah prayed intensely, specifically, humbly. Her prayer was directed upwardly. She prayed powerfully and she prayed expectantly. And in the end her prayers were answered. She was given Samuel. Then she was also given three sons and two daughters (see 1 Samuel 2:21).
Are you facing problems right now? Do you have some matters that matter to you? How do you pray?
All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.