1 Samuel 1:9-18 (Part 1) – Going from Anguish to Peace: The Vehicle is Prayer

Posted: November 7, 2017 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 1:9-18 (Part 1 of 3)
Hannah’s Prayer for a Son

Yesterday, I wrote of the barrenness that I feel in my call to ministry. I had been bitter about it, despondent about it, to the point of being angry with God about it. I vacillated between that emotion and even being angry at myself for why I was even pursuing it as if it were not a calling but a desire of my own heart. Is all this education I am seeking a delaying tactic to keep myself from realizing the reality of this not being a true calling? Am I just climbing up a tree like a squirrel looking for a nut but there are no nuts to be found in the tree? I admit that my prayer life has been wanting throughout my walk with the Lord that began 16 years ago. It is the primary area that I have yet to truly mature. But this drought of what is it that God wants from me has led me to seek Him more in prayer. At first, these prayers about this situation with my calling to ministry were very selfish. God, why are you not doing anything? God, I am falling your calling on my life, now, do your part! You know the drill when you are immature in prayer. We pray for the things that we want. We think that if we pray it that it should come to pass because it is what we want and we prayed with all the right Christian-ese buzz words. We think if we pray in just the right way that God will give us the desires of our heart. In our freeze-dried, microwaved, ready in just one minute hot pocket world, we think that if we pray it that God should spit out the result we desire immediately. I have been like that over the past year or so about this calling that has been a burden on my heart since 2011.

What I have learned through this time of barrenness is that sometimes you just gotta learn to pray for God’s will. There is a tension between what we know as our heart’s desire and God’s will that we may not always be certain of. We have to learn to take our anguish, our worry, our frustration, our anger to the Lord in prayer and honestly pray. Not just some selfish ranting. Not just saying the right buzz words. But honestly lifting up our concerns to the Lord. When we really pray, the process changes us. For me, the prayers have drawn me to one indelible conclusion because I constantly hear from my Lord that for now I need to keep plowing the field in front of me and be faithful in the field that I am currently plowing. He will led me to the next field to plow when He sees that I am ready for it. There has been a sense of calm that has come from that repeated line that comes to me from God to “keep plowing the field in front of you!”

That’s what I thought of this morning is how, through honest, emotional, gut-wrenching prayer, Hannah goes from anguish to peace. It reminds me of the path that I am on myself where nothing is being birthed from my calling to ministry…just yet. But I have peace about doing what I am doing right now and it is only through heartfelt prayer and switching from saying to God what I want in a way that I think He wants to hear it to true prayer for peace and understanding and trust in Him to open the doors that He has for me. Let’s read this passage, 1 Samuel 1:9-18, now:

9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a] 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.[b]”

12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.

In this passage, we see that Hannah had good reason to feel discouraged and bitter. She was unable to bear children. She shared a husband with a woman who ridiculed her (1 Samuel 1:7). Her loving husband could not solve her problem (1:8). Even the high priest misunderstood her motives (1:14). But instead of retaliating in bitterness, hatred and anger or giving up hope altogether, Hannah prayed. She brought her problem honestly before God. Each of us may face times of barrenness when we “can’t have the baby we desire,” so to speak, or “nothing is coming to birth” in in our work, our service to the Lord, or in our relationships. It is difficult to pray sometimes when we feel so ineffective. However, as Hannah discovered, prayer opens the way for God to do what He do as only He can do it!

I am at peace right now with the field that I am plowing. There is ministry in what I am doing right now. There are things that I am learning right now both in school and in my exposure to my leadership at church that are of great value. There are ministry opportunities that I am experiencing now through the teaching opportunities at church. There are ministry opportunities in this, my blog. There are ministry opportunities in everything that I do every day. It is all part of being faithful and realizing that whatever big thing that God may have for me in the future depends on how faithful I am in being the caretaker of the field in which He has me planted now. Faithful in the small things now will lead to faithfulness in the big things later. We must see our lives on a day to day basis as the ministry that God has for us right now and live that ministry to the fullest. It is all about faithfulness. It is all about faith. It is all about trusting that God has a whole lot better view of the big picture of my life than I do. Hannah walked about with peace. I have come to a place of peace. You can too about whatever is troubling you. God is a big God and we need to trust Him and listen to Him and seek His voice. It starts with prayer. Prayer changes us. It does not change God. Prayer moves us toward God and not God toward us. Prayer opens our ears to hear what He has to say.

Amen and Amen.

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