Thursday, August 9, 2012

Honest Prayer To God

9 Once, after they had eaten their meal in Shiloh, Hannah got up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair near the entrance to the Lord’s house. 10 Hannah was so sad that she cried and prayed to the Lord. 11 She made a promise, saying, “Lord All-Powerful, see how sad I am. Remember me and don’t forget me. If you will give me a son, I will give him back to you all his life, and no one will ever cut his hair with a razor.” 12 While Hannah kept praying, Eli watched her mouth. 13 She was praying in her heart so her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “Stop getting drunk! Throw away your wine!” 15 Hannah answered, “No, sir, I have not drunk any wine or beer. I am a deeply troubled woman, and I was telling the Lord about all my problems. 16 Don’t think I am an evil woman. I have been praying because I have many troubles and am very sad.” 17 Eli answered, “Go! I wish you well. May the God of Israel give you what you asked of him.” 18 Hannah said, “May I always please you.” When she left and ate something, she was not sad anymore. …  20 So Hannah became pregnant, and in time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “His name is Samuel because I asked the Lord for him.”…  24 When Samuel was old enough to eat, Hannah took him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, …  27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord answered my prayer and gave him to me. 28 Now I give him back to the Lord. He will belong to the Lord all his life.” And he worshiped the Lord there. 1 Samuel 1:9-18, 20, 24, 27-28 (NCV).

1 Hannah prayed: “The Lord has filled my heart with joy; I feel very strong in the Lord. I can laugh at my enemies; I am glad because you have helped me! 2 “There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no God but You; there is no Rock like our God. 3 “Don’t continue bragging, don’t speak proud words. The Lord is a God who knows everything, and He judges what people do. … 9 He protects those who are loyal to him, but evil people will be silenced in darkness. Power is not the key to success. 10 The Lord destroys His enemies; He will thunder in heaven against them. The Lord will judge all the earth. He will give power to His king and make His appointed king strong.” 1 Samuel 2:1-3, 9-10 (NCV), see also Mary’s praise song, the Magnificat, modeled after Hannah's prayer (Luke 1:46-55).
Hannah was a woman of faith and persistent in prayer.  Her prayer for a child showed selflessness as she asked for a son to dedicate completely for God’s service (1 Samuel 1:11). The name Hannah means “grace.”  She modeled devotion for God and complete obedience to Him. Hannah was passionate in worship and real in prayer. Instead of retaliating or giving up hope, Hannah prayed to God in her time of trouble and need. She brought her problems honestly before God and trusted in God’s grace (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah knew that God is all-powerful and can take any circumstances and turn them completely around. She decided to leave her problem with God (1 Samuel 1:18). Even more, Hannah discovered that prayer opens the path for God to work (1 Samuel 1:19-20). God hears and answers our honest prayers to Him.  All the more, God's timing in answering our prayers is perfect. We can trust God’s timing and His will for our lives.

Hannah made a vow with God and promised God that she would give her son for God’s service if He answered her prayer for a child (1 Samuel 1:10–11). Hannah’s vow was not a "bargain" or "barter" with God. The principle of a vow to God is, “If God will do A, then I will do B” for God. Other examples of vows are found at Genesis 28:20-22; Leviticus 7:16; Leviticus 22:23; Numbers 21:2; Deuteronomy 12:11; and 2 Samuel 15:8. Ancient Israelites made vows conditional upon God granting their requests. However, vows were often abused. In fact, the Old Testament warns against making vows (see Deuteronomy 23:21-23; Proverbs 7:10-14; Proverbs 20:25; Jeremiah 44:25). Many people in the Bible made vows to God (e.g., 1 Samuel 14:24-28) and did not keep these vows (1 Samuel 19:6). Vows would go unfulfilled and never paid, moving God’s anger. So, the Old Testament states that not making a vow is better than backing out of one (Ecclesiastes 5:3-5). In the New Testament, Jesus warnings us not to make any vows, but simply to keep our word (Matthew 5:33-37; see also James 5:12). Hannah distinguished herself in that she carried out her vow to God (1 Samuel 1:24–28). God keeps His promises, and He expects us to do the same.

God honored Hannah’s prayers and faith. Hannah’s son was named Samuel which mean "heard by God" or "asked of God" because she asked for him from God (1 Samuel 1:20). When God answered Hannah’s prayer, she kept her promise to God and dedicated her son Samuel to God's service. Yet more, Hannah praised and thanked God for answering her prayer for a child. God is worthy of praise.

Hannah’s prayer is a good example to follow:  honestly tell God how you really feel and leave your problems with Him. Like Hannah, we should be confident of God's definitive control over the events and circumstances in our lives. God is all-knowing, perfect and in control (1 Samuel 2:4-10). We may also ask God to fulfill the requests and longings of our hearts. God provides for those who genuinely trust in Him.  So, ask God first and trust Him to provide! Always remember that God keeps His promises.

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