There is so much to love about Hannah! Her devotion to God, her willingness to dedicate her son to His work, the fact that she didn’t punch her husband when he told her that he was worth more than ten sons to her…and her commitment to prayer.
The Bible tells us that Hannah prayed for a son “year after year” (1 Samuel 1:7).” She kept praying though her husband’s other wife tortured her (and kept having baby after baby). She kept praying even when no one (including her husband and the priest Eli) understood. She kept praying through misery (vs.6), with weeping (vs. 7), with a broken heart (vs. 8), through bitterness of soul and anguish (vs. 10). She prayed even though it made her look like a fool (v.14). She kept praying year after year after year.
“And this is when most of us give up. We stop praying because we can’t see any tangible difference with our natural eyes. We allow circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances (Mark Batterson).”
It’s easy to pray for something specific for a short amount of time. We like our prayers to be answered like Joshua’s when he asked God to make the sun stand still- one prayer and just like that, the earth stopped spinning (Joshua 10). Praying for something year after long year without hearing anything from God on the matter takes continued and ever expanding faith.
Beth Moore wrote, “If we place our faith in what God is doing, we should brace ourselves for a lifelong roller-coaster ride. Our faith will be high and mighty one day and free-falling the next because it is based on the apparent activity of God in our circumstances.” Note the phrase “apparent activity”. God is perpetually active; we just have limited vision.
How do we know when to stop praying for something? When we get an answer. This is not the same as getting our way. Sometimes God will tell us “no, and don’t ask me again” as He did with Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. However, sometimes God is waiting for the perfect time, or us to be ready, and sometimes we wait because of spiritual battles that we have no idea are going on.
There is a fascinating story in Daniel 10 where Daniel records praying for specific wisdom from the Lord. He fasted and prayed for some time before receiving an answer, but finally an angel came and said this to him; “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard and I came because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me (Daniel 10:12-13).” Daniel’s prayer was answered as soon as he prayed, but a spiritual battle that he had no idea about caused a delay in his receiving the answer. Daniel kept on praying.
Hannah could have decided that praying for a child for a year was enough. She could have become discouraged, lazy, disillusioned, or distracted and just stopped asking. Instead, Hannah remained faithful in prayer and God answered. Not only was her son a blessing to her, he would become God’s messenger to the entire nation and would anoint its first two kings. All because of one woman’s prayers.
(For those who have missed any of the previous lessons, you can go to https://comethirstyministry.com/blog/ and view all previous postings.)
Day 1: Ruth 4:1-22 (Ruth and Naomi)
Day 2: 1 Samuel 1:1-28 (Hannah)
Day 3: 1 Samuel 2:1-11 (Hannah)
Day 4: 1 Samuel 4:1-22 (Eli’s Daughter’s In Law)
Day 5: 1 Samuel 18:1-30 (Michal)