I once heard about a farm community who was experiencing a drought that threatened to bankrupt the whole town. One church decided to hold a prayer meeting to ask God for rain. Many people from the community showed up and lined the pews of the church. The preacher walked up front to address the crowded church. He said, “This prayer meeting has been cancelled.” The people gasped in disbelief. They had shown up to pray. How could he dismiss them? He said, “I noticed that none of you came with an umbrella. Why pray if you don’t believe God is going to answer?”
I’ve always loved that story. It reminds me of Hannah in the book of Samuel. She had wanted to have a child, but couldn’t. Her husband would go to the temple every year to offer sacrifices. He would then give his other wife, Peninnah, and her children meat from the sacrifice. He then gave the best piece of meat to Hannah. When he did, Peninnah would taunt her and tease her because she couldn’t have kids. Hannah would get so upset she would break down in tears and couldn’t eat.
On one such occasion, Hannah ran to the temple to pray. She quietly wept before the Lord as she prayed. She asked God for a son and promised to give him back if He answered her. As she sat there weeping, Eli the priest, confronted her thinking she was drunk. When she explained that she hadn’t been drinking and had been in prayer, he responded, “In that case, go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him” (1 Samuel 1:17 NLT). Hannah then went back, ate food, and was no longer sad.
She acted in faith before she got her answer. She believed that God heard her prayer and answered it. We could all learn from her and the farming community. Jesus said in John 14:13, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” If we will start acting like God is going to answer our prayers, we will start to see more of them answered. Faith doesn’t wait in order to act. It acts before it knows there will be an answer.