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.
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
If you are a Christian, you have prayed and asked God for something. You may have asked for healing for a family member, wisdom to resolve a situation, money to pay some bills, or any number of things. Think about some of the things you’ve asked Him for while I tell you a story about two blind men who followed Jesus home in Matthew 9. When He arrived, they went in with Him and asked for their healing again. They had been asking Him the whole way home and weren’t about to stop now.
In verse 28, Jesus asked them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” (MSG) That’s the question we all need to think about when we pray for things. Do we really believe He can and will answer? I remember when I was a kid, I would often ask my mom for something because the percentage of her saying, “Yes” was a lot higher than my dad saying it. When she would say, “Ask your father,” my heart would sink. Even though I would ask him, in my heart, I believed he would say, “No.”
I’m afraid that we approach God many times the same way I would go to my father instead of the way I went to my mother. When I asked her, I had hope and a cheesy smile. When I asked him, there was no smile and my voice was flat. When I think of these blind men, they approached Jesus the way I went to my mom. They were in essence saying, “Pretty please with sugar on top!” They were smiling and begging knowing He would probably say, “Yes.” They were so hopeful, they followed Him right into His house.
Jesus’ answer wasn’t what they expected though. He said, “Become what you believe.” He told them their answer would be in proportion to their faith in His ability to say, “Yes.” I believe He still answers our prayers that way, and because we approach Him the way I approached my dad for things, we don’t receive. We get what we believe. If we want to start getting answers to prayers, then we are going to have to change how we approach God. We’ve got to believe He will say, “Yes!” We’ve got to approach Him the way we would approach our parent that would say, “Yes.”