One of the stories on the Bible that speaks to me every time is in 1 Samuel 1. Hannah wasn’t able to have a child so she was ridiculed, taunted, bullied and shamed. Year after year this went on. One year she had enough. Instead of attacking her bully, she went into the Sanctuary to pray. She wept bitterly before God, crying out in prayer for a long time. As she prayed, her lips were moving, but the words were coming from her heart. She wasn’t leaving until God answered her prayer for a son.
Verse 10 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (NLT). One of the first questions that comes to my mind is, “When is the last time I prayed with that kind of desperation?” Most of our prayers are simple ones with little emotion. I believe one of the reasons God answered Hannah’s prayer, and will answer ours, is because it was fervent and came from deep within her soul, not just her mind.
Verse 12 says, “Hannah continued to pray to the Lord for a long time” (GNT). I’ve heard the saying, “Don’t pray until you’re through. Pray until you’ve prayed through.” This is where it is applied. Too many times, we ask God for something and when He doesn’t answer right away, we quit praying. Hannah didn’t just pray for a long time, she prayed a long time for years. God uses her internal torment to develop a life of prayer. She wasn’t going to stop until she got her answer. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is because of persistence.
After the Eli, the priest, had told her God would answer her prayer, verse 18 says, “Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad” (NLT). Hannah believed God would answer and acted accordingly. She didn’t let the years of God not answering prayer create doubt. She held onto the promise and acted in faith before God answered. She quit believing the words of the bully and held onto God’s Word instead. One of the reasons God answered her prayer, and will answer ours, is when we act in faith.
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In Exodus 14, the Israelites had left Egypt and were near the Red Sea. When they looked up, they saw Pharaoh and his army quickly approaching. When they realized they were trapped, they panicked. They yelled at Moses and cried out to God for help. I love God’s response to them. He said in verse 13, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” (NLT) Moses then raised his staff and parted the waters for them to go through.
How many times have we been panicked and have cried out to God for help? I don’t know if I can count that high! I’ve spent many nights begging God for help in desperate situations. I’ve felt hopeless as I’ve cried out needing Him to act on my behalf. I can imagine what they were feeling in that moment. But God’s response to them was not what I expected. “Why are you crying out to me?” God had already told them what to do and where to go.
I wonder how many times God is saying that to us. How many times has He tried to tell us, “Get moving”? How much time have we used on panicked prayers when God is looking for us to have some action? They were at a seemingly dead end, but God still said, “Get moving!” You and I have not come to a greater dead end than they were at. If God told them they could move forward, I believe He’s telling us to move forward.
There’s a time to pray and a time to act. If God has called you to do something and you’re at a dead end, move forward in the direction He told you to go. Take that step of faith and watch the waters part. God honors big faith. Hold your hands up over the waters that stand before you and your destination, trust God to part them, and move forward. He didn’t call you to a dead end. He called you to see with faith what your eyes cannot see. Trust in His calling and get moving.
In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.
Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.
James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.
Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.