If there was one action you could do to help your children, what would it be?
- Provide a loving and safe environment for the child to have positive self-esteem and acceptance.
- Provide mentors with friends, teachers, coaches, and other adult encouragers to shape child.
- Provide & pay for all education to be a well rounded and knowledgeable student.
- Provide a variety of activities and experiences which they can develop life skills.
- Pick all political positions in government to foster a nation with laws to your preferences.
What if the only action you were allowed as a parent is to pray for them; would that be enough… would you have peace and contentment?
We must remember that love is from God (1John 4:7); wisdom is from God’s generosity (James 1:5); hope, joy, and peace are from the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13); and most importantly, faith and salvation are gifts solely from God (Eph 2:8). So prayer is vital.
We must remember
- when we rely upon individuals, we get what people can do.
- when we rely upon schools, we get what education can do.
- when we rely upon experiences, we get what the world can do.
- when we rely upon government, we get what politics can do.
- when we rely upon prayer, we get what God can do.
EXAMINE 1SAMUEL 1-2 His&Hers: Her Prayer
1Samuel 1:1 “There was a certain man…”
This book is one of Israel’s history with introduction of its kings Saul and David. The link between Israel’s priesthood – judge – king is implemented with Samuel. Thus, Samuel functions as an important figure in the nations history. The book continues from the book of Judges to introduce previous leaders (cf. Judges 13:2; 17:1) and shares the background story of Samuel’s birth from his parents Elkanah and Hannah.
1Samuel points us to God’s sovereign salvation of undeserving sinners.
In the midst of Israel’s waywardness is God’s working to change the course of its history through the least likeliest place – a rural hillside and a barren woman.
Specifically, in today’s message we will understand 2 reminders of the importance for a woman/mother’s prayer life.
Prayer originates with a desperate heart (1:1-10).
1:2 Two wives was the hint there would be problems. Elkanah treated the wives differently and in fact loved one more than the other; Hannah over Peninnah. Consequently, the wives treated each other poorly with Peninnah’s mocking of Hannah’s barrenness resulting in her emotional weeping and abstaining from food.
- Hannah = grace or favor / Peninnah = coral or pearl. Peninnah had children but Hannah had no children. Sometimes grace cannot be measured by external blessings.
- Monogamy was God’s design but polygamy was practiced at times for political reasons and other times for practical reasons to produce an heir. Their polygamous relationship is a reminder that we all have problems but problems are multiplied when we don’t follow God’s pattern.
- Infertility is a silent sorrow among many women (and men). You can take hope that some of God’s most used people were barren (Abraham & Sarah Gen 11:30; Isaac & Rebekah Gen 25:21; Jacob & Rachel Gen 30:1/35:18; Manoah’s wife before Samson Judges 13:2; and even Elizabeth birthed John the baptizer in her old age Luke 1:7, 1:36). Yet, all these had children so how does this help? Perhaps your greatest consolation can be in the life of Jesus who never had physical children but spiritually speaking was the most effective at producing fruit in the lives of others (Isa 53:10; Gal 3:16, 3:29).
- Adversity should drive us toward God rather than away from Him (cf 2Cor 1:8-11; 4:7-18).
- Weakness, struggles, suffering either cause humility or arrogance.
- We often evaluate God’s love for us based on present circumstances (fired from job, dumped by boyfriend, pain or disease) versus God’s faithfulness and Christ’s love through sacrifice.
- Pain is often God’s megaphone to awaken a deaf world (C.S. Lewis). In other words, God uses our struggles to teach us to rely on His salvation and strength rather than our own. If our faith depends upon sight in this world we will always struggle and may never have fulfillment.
- Maturity is long-term yet we live in a microwave society (text/email/chat, google search, amazon shopping, on-demand tv. Adversity in this world is God’s way of slowing down life for our thoughts & affections to be raised toward Him.
1:2, 4 Peninnah had multiple sons and daughters but their legacy is absent in record. This is all we ever hear about them in two verses. Yet, Hannah’s son Samuel would be one of God’s great prophets.
- If we take God’s blessings as selfish pride then God will remove their significance.
- One of Israel’s greatest downfalls was grumbling instead of being grateful; whining vs worship.
1:8 Elkanah tried to solve Hannah’s problems with talking more than listening. Further, he was self-focused rather than other-centered – “Am I not more to you than ten sons?” The silent answer was obvious.
- We must be careful to question other’s responses toward problems based on our preferred responses.
- We must be careful not to lessen someone’s problems by maximizing our own issues (“am I not more…”)
1:10 In spite of, or perhaps because of, Hannah’s infertility she was a woman of faith. Hannah’s praying is referenced five times (1:10, 12, 26, 27; 2:1). Later her son Samuel will be referenced to pray five times (3:4-10; 7:5; 8:6; 12:19, 12:23).
– – –
There have been few times when I have been desperate, yet each of those life seasons drew me closer to the Lord.
- My childhood was mostly spared of true desperation; no worries bc there was much teen desperation. Middle school was rough; in sixth grade I got glasses, braces and chose to have spike hair – awesome.
- Got a good job out of high school and after a couple years earned enough to pay for my first 2.5 years of college. The next 2.5 years became a season of financial desperation where I deepened and stepped out on faith with a variety of decisions.
- 1st year of marriage was season of growth and much prayer.
- Another six years later would be a desperate season for my wife and I as we dealt with a miscarriage, a loss of my wife’s employment, the passing of my grandmother, and some dramatic changes with my ministry job.
- Three years later I entered into a confusing season discerning God’s calling in my ministry; led to my transition at SPBC.
- Four years later would be another desperate season as our one year old daughter had major surgery for a mrsa infection.
TBH, my desperation has been minimal in comparison to others around me. However, God has used my experiences to soften my heart and fill it with compassion to empathize with others in ways I wouldn’t have imagined.
- I’ve wept and prayed with parents in the hospital who never were able to take their baby home.
- I’ve loved and led families to work through their teenage children going through drug addictions, “coming out” announcements, birth out of wedlock announcements, etc.
- I’ve encouraged men through the loss and transitions of their career employment.
- I’ve counseled couples considering divorce and seen both stories of amazing reconciliation as well as deep heartache and brokenness among the spouse and young family members involved.
- I’ve spoken words of hope to countless families at numerous gravesides.
The point: prayer originates with a desperate heart.
à There’s little preparation for desperation. It usually comes as a surprise. The best form of preparation is prayer. The best form of survival is prayer. Prayer, prayer, prayer.
à If you’re in desperation right now, my best encouragement to you is to analyze and apply Hannah’s prayer life to your own.
à Desperation identifies you with Jesus. He was tempted in every way. He suffered to the fullest extent – even unto death that we might know hope and life. Jesus was forsaken by God for our sin so that we never have to or should doubt His presence and love for us in our suffering. Earthly pain is not God’s judgment on us because the full penalty of our judgment was placed on Jesus at the cross. We do not have to be afraid or feel alone in our desperation, which is why prayer is one of God’s means to remind us of His available comfort and care.
Prayer results in a dedicated heart (1Sam 1:11-28)
- Hannah used her problems to grow in prayer. Hannah’s suffering caused her to be a skillful theologian.
- “O Lord of hosts” (1:11)
Yahweh Sabbaoth: “The Lord of Hosts or Almighty.” A military name portraying the Lord as the commander of the armies of heaven (cf 1 Samuel 1:3; 17:45; Psalm 59:5; Malachi 2:17). This is the first time someone calls God this name.
- “your servant” (1:11)
- “O Lord of hosts” (1:11)
Hannah identifies herself as the Lord’s servant three times. Rightful prayer positions us to have the proper perspective toward God and our circumstances.
- “If… then…” (1:11)
Using our prayers to vow or condition commitment back to God is not always the best of ideas. Yet, her words reflect a heartfelt plea and devotion to the Lord. She believed that prayer to God was not just about receiving but also stewarding and giving back unto God. Hannah committed to raise her son to serve the Lord, with a special dedication as a Nazarite or priest (“no razor shall touch his head”).
- “She continued praying before the Lord” (1:12) “pouring out my soul before the Lord (1:15)
Hannah is a model of prayer, even more so than the priest Eli. Hannah’s prayer in 1Sam 2 is one the longest and most eloquent prayers in the Bible.
- Ironically, the priest Eli observes Hannah’s lips moving without hearing her voice and assumes she’s drunk. Instead, she respectfully replies that she is simply troubled in spirit and pouring out her soul before the Lord. Eli then understands and prays for her comfort and she is consoled.
à How would you like to have a pastor or church leader who assumes the worse about you?
Christians must work toward assuming the best of each other or conflict will occur. Note how Hannah gives a respectful response rather than sarcastic remark or unforgiving spirit. This is a sign of a godliness.
à We must enter people’s lives with genuine love, listening, and learning how God may work in the circumstances.
– – – > SPBC core value to love others.
- Following the prayer encounter, Elkanah and Hannah worshiped the Lord and they experienced intimacy with each other. And the Lord “remembered” and answered the couple’s prayer. The couple conceived and bore a son and called him Samuel = asked or heard of God.
- Note the link between the couple’s worship of God and their intimacy. Sexual relations is a very spiritual act because it was created by God.
- à If the couple only prayed and never acted in dedication to trust God to answer the prayer she would have never conceived. There was only need for a single virgin birth and Hannah’s circumstance did not apply.
- àFurther application for understanding the spirituality of sex is that sexual sin is a very serious sin and not to be taken lightly or brushed off as a bodily desire that cannot be suppressed. The view: “It’s my body and I can do what I want” is a misunderstanding of God and misrepresentation of why you were created.
- Hannah’s naming the child Samuel reflects her celebration to God (1:20)
- Hannah’s weaning of the child reflects her commitment to God to steward God’s gift (1:22)
- Hannah’s returning of the child reflects her contentment in God’s purposes for her son (1:24)
- Hannah gave “three bulls, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine” to sacrifice in worship to the Lord. Religious law stated that a sacrificial offering only required one bull, three-tenths of an ephah of flour, and only a half a hin of wine (Numbers 15:8-10). Or perhaps the amounts of sacrifice Hannah gave was beyond generous to show her heart of contentment, commitment, and celebration to the Lord.
- à Understanding grace results in generosity.
Hannah’s prayer was pointed in specifically seeking a son.
Pointed prayer versus haphazard prayer
There is nothing wrong with praying randomly or just a simple “Lord help me” type prayer. Yet, there is power in specificity to our prayers. At times, haphazard praying can be
- too general to genuinely have faith in an unseen God to do beyond what only you can do.
- too guarded to have any depth in our relationship and trusting God with the details of our life.
When we are pointed, purposeful and planned to pray intentionally, God is honored by our faith to believe His power and to trust His provision in our life. Pointed prayers are
- purposefully rooted in Scripture for how God teaches us to pray and promises to answer.
- purposefully rooted in bold and courageous faith in God’s power and provision. Pointed prayers plead before
- SPBC Prayer Prompts
- Pray in private devotions, family worship, group settings
- Prayer originates with a desperate heart and results in a dedicated heart.
- Will you dedicate your desperation to God?
- As Hannah, dedicate prayer for your children.
- Your greatest desperation is salvation from sin, which w/o Jesus Christ you are hopeless. Salvation is God’s determination meeting your desperation bridged by the prayer of Jesus “Father forgive them”
 Textual debate over three year old bull vs three bulls. cf. R. Ratner, “Three Bulls or One?: A Reappraisal of 1 Samuel 1, 24, ” Bib 68 (1987): 98–102.