Do you ever feel like what you’re doing is futile? I am talking about your faith. Sometimes we do everything we know to do and it just seems as if there is no fruit. Sometimes we even pray, “Lord, I am doing everything I know to do but I am not getting the results You promised. Why? What’s going on here?” What do we do in those moments? Do we give up? Do we keep doing the same thing over and over, going through the motions, but without results? Just keep on going?
1 Corinth 10:11 tells us that everything in the Old Testament was written for our examples. Let’s look at a woman that went through this same struggle of “Lord, I feel like I am doing everything right but: no results.” You can read the whole story for yourself in 1 Samuel 1-2, but for time’s sake I am going to give you the Kim Linza Condensed Translation.
Israel was in a mess. The priesthood, Eli and sons (Hophni and Phineas) were stealing from the offerings, even committing sexual immorality with women in the temple.
But we have the story of Elkanah, Peninnah, and Hannah. Elkanah was married to both Peninnah and Hannah. They went up to the temple every year to worship in obedience to what the law said. They gave offerings. Elkanah loved Hannah and gave her double portions as if she had a son, because he loved her. But Peninnah was the wife with children. Every year when they went up to worship, Peninnah provoked Hannah and made her miserable. Peninnah means “adversary.” Hannah is a picture of a woman who was God honoring, God worshipping, and God fearing and yet year after year, the enemy was making her miserable. Elkanah wasn’t much help. “Hannah why do you weep? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than 10 sons?” He may have been a God-fearing man and even a good husband, but he couldn’t meet the desire of Hannah’s heart to be a mother.
1 Samuel 1:10 says Hannah prayed. It seems that at this point, with everything against her and nothing going her way, Hannah realized she needed to take hold of the Lord through prayer. She makes an audacious promise that she did not have to make, telling God if He gives her a child, she’ll give the child to the Lord all the days of his life.
1 Samuel 1:12 says Hannah continued to pray before the Lord. This was not just a haphazard prayer, but genuine supplication. Supplication is a humble, earnest, heartfelt request made in a fervent manner. She makes her petition. A petition literally means a written request. In other words, we pray based on the word. I don’t know what Hannah based her petition on exactly. Maybe she reminded God that of Exodus 23:26 which says: None will miscarry or be barren in the land. Maybe she reminded God of Deut. 7:14 which says: there shall not be male or female barren among you.
In 1 Samuel 1:17-18, 2:1-11, Hannah praised and worshipped. Eli saw Hannah and thought she was drunk. Hannah respectfully said that she was not drunk but had “poured out my soul before the Lord.” Ps. 62:8b says “Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” She poured everything out before the Lord. The unworthiness, the desire for a child, the years of rejection, all of it. We needn’t think that God doesn’t care about or is surprised by our feelings. He cares, but He is looking for the word to give Him an invitation to act. After all this, the reminding God of His word, of pouring out her soul before Him, Eli told her “Go in peace and the God of Israel grant you your petition. The Young’s Literal Translation says: And Eli answereth and saith, ‘Go in peace, and the God of Israel doth give thy petition which thou hast asked of Him. In other words: this was God speaking through the high priest to Hannah in answer to her fervent and continued prayers to say: It is done. Go in peace. Suddenly, Hannah was happy! 1 Samuel 1:19 says they (not just Elkanah but Hannah too) worshipped the Lord.
Hannah prayed, Hannah continued to pray, and once she had assurance of peace in her heart and that she had the answer, she praised.
Obviously, a baby can’t come in the snap of your fingers. In the process of time, Hannah conceived and bore a son, Samuel, which means “heard by God.” After he was weaned, she took him to the temple and lent him to the Lord as promised. She took her precious son and dropped him in the middle of a corrupt priesthood. How many of you know that she wasn’t about to stop praying for Samuel! She went up every year and made him a little robe which is a symbol of her continuing to cover Samuel in prayer. Hannah’s continued, fervent prayers produced the result of a praying man. 1 Samuel 12:23 talks about Samuel as an adult: Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good & right way.
Take aways: When you feel as though you’re not receiving from God all that He has promised: that is not the time to give up. That is the time to pray. That is the time to petition God based on the word. That is the time to even pour out your soul before the Lord. You need to pray until you have a note of victory and then you can do as Hannah did and praise and rejoice. But one you’ve received the promise, remember that is not the end. Hannah continued to pray for Samuel and her other children. And even Samuel had to carry on the work his mother gave birth to by praying for the nation of Israel.
I encourage you to act now and pray!
(To hear this message in its’ entirety, click here to listen!!! This was recently preached at a local church.)