Monday, April 18, 2011

Praying Through

On Sundays, I normally write a recount of the preacher's sermon in my blog.  I planned to do that yesterday, but when I sat down to write it, I couldn't. There were too many connections to my life. Yesterday's sermon was based on 1 Samuel 1 where Hannah is so heartbroken over her inability to have a child that she goes to the temple and prays.  She prays with her face on the ground, totally given over to her prayer.  She prays so passionately that the priest thinks she must be drunk.  She prays silently, mouthing the words, feeling each word.  She prays like we should pray, but we rarely do. Her prayer was answered.  God gave her Samuel and she gave him right back to the Lord. It's a wonderful story. 

When I was a little girl, my mom had a big red medical dictionary with pictures that she kept on the bottom part of the side table (the tables that sit beside the couch and hold the lamp or they did in the 70's at least). I loved to read even back then, and if I had ran out of things to read, I would read this book.  The pictures were pretty gross for the most part; however, there was an entire section on the stages of childhood.  Each developmental stage had a picture - a rosy cheeked baby, a chubby kneed toodler, a curly haired five year old, etc. I named each of these children and made them mine.  I wanted at least ten kids.  I would lower that number to six by the time I was married, but I always wanted a ton of children. I could not wait to be a mom. I totally understand Hannah's heartbreak. Every month that I was not pregnant after I was married, I cried. I cried for the loss.  I cried out of self-pity. I wanted a child so badly.   Three years of tears and trying and heartbreak, I was given Taylor. God blessed me with this one amazing child. Hannah sat through ceremonies where she had to watch every other woman give thanks for their children, and she was barren.  She turned to the only person who could help.  She turned to God. God answered her prayer.  He's amazing like that.

Hannah didn't pray the watered down prayers that we often do though.  She prayed a passionate prayer. This was her heart's desire. She prayed prostrate - face down.  She prayed in her heart.  No words were said; only her lips moved.  She wasn't just saying some rhyming phrase she learned as a child.  She was begging her Heavenly Father for a child. I've heard some strong prayers in my lifetime. My dad prays and you know when you hear it, it is a reverent prayer.  My dad is a reverent man.  I have been deeply moved witnessing little children at Backyard Bible Club all pray out loud together (like Wesleyans) and know they are talking to their friend. The prayer of another that I was most moved by though was a prayer that mirrored Hannah's prayer. Preacher Ray ( a former preacher at RCBC) prayed one night at the altar in a service where you could feel God's presence.  I don't know what he was praying about, but he was heartbroken without a doubt.  He prayed and prayed and then, laid his face on the ground with his arms outstretched and continued to pray and cry.  When he finally stood, I had no doubt that he had spoken with God. It was a powerful site.  I want to be that prayer warrior. We should all pray those types of passionate prayers for the lost, the homeless, for this world we live in.

Hannah prayed with great humility.  She didn't walk in and demand things of God. She said she was His handmaiden.  A handmaiden is the equivalent of a female slave.  She didn't say I am a really good woman, so please give me this child.  She asks humbly for a child and says she will give the child back to God. She wasn't making a foxhole deal with God.  She wasn't saying if you do this, then I'll do that - only to totally forget the promise as soon as she conceived.  Too often today, people try to bargain with the Lord. We make deals.  If you will heal me, I'll start coming to church.  If you will allow me to get this job, I'll start tithing. If you will fix my marriage, I'll become a better person. He doesn't need whatever you could offer.  He is the Great I AM.  Come to Him as His humble servant.  To do otherwise is disrespectful.

I've came to the Lord a few times heartbroken and begged Him to fix the situations. I did not do it at the altar.  I have sobbed in my bed begging Him to fix my marriage. I have sank to the floor in the shower begging Him to help me through a painful situation involving Taylor when he was younger. I begged Him with all I had to not take Taylor when the doctor said he may have Leukemia even if all I could get out was the word Please. I prayed fiercely when Taylor said he wanted to enlist. God answered in each of those cases.  The answer was NO in a few.  He gave me strength through each situation though.  I did not demand His help.  I begged Him.  Come to God humbly.

Hannah kept praying until she had been heard.  She prayed through. This is an old expression that you don't hear much anymore.  Today, we pray at the altar until the music hits the second or third verse and then, we get up because everyone wants to go home.  Think about that.  We go to the altar to speak to our Lord and Savior and then, we cut it short because other people might want to go home and watch television. If you are heartbroken, pray until God answers you.  Remember that the answer may be no. You aren't praying until He says yes.  You are praying in great humility, with great passion until He answers. Prayer is not supposed to be a postcard. Wish You were here. Prayer is a conversation. It's a chatty letter where you take the time to communicate with the most important person in your life. Take the time to pray.

God gave Hannah a child. She named him Samuel which means "Because I have asked him of the Lord".  She gave praise to God for the blessing.  We need to be continually praising God for His blessings on us. God is good all the time and all the time, God is good.

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