Trials and Blessings

God loves to answer His children's prayers

1Samuel 1-3 Trials and storms either drive us closer to God or far away. God has recorded the story of Hannah as an example of true faith. Her example of facing a trial and drawing close to God is one we want to follow. Hannah made an unusual vow that if God opened her womb, she would dedicate the child back to God.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it”…and don’t tell the priest “it was a mistake.” [Eccl 5:4]

Even though God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman, Hannah’s husband, Elkanah, like some others in scripture, failed to keep that rule. Hannah’s rival was jealous and lacked compassion for Hannah. Enter God’s ways that man cannot understand but remind us to see how He works to receive glory for Himself.

God heard the cry of Hannah. Some months later, Hannah would give birth to a little boy she would name Samuel, meaning “asked of God.” Beloved, whatever you are facing today you can glean words of comfort from Hannah. Take time to pour over Hannah’s prayer and pray her words back to God. Hannah learned the truth of Paul’s words: bring all your requests to God, and His peace will guard your heart. [Phil 4:7]

“Prayers of Righteous Men/Women”

Prayer is effective

Genesis 25 & 26 What is the value of prayer? Why should I pray? What should I pray for? Over and over, the scriptures teach the value of prayer. As we follow the men and women in the pages of this sacred book, we see those who followed the Lord believed in prayer. Prayer is the answer to that which is upon our hearts. O Lord, hear my prayer!” [Ps 86:6] “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” [Phil 4:6]

After many years, Isaac and Rebekah were still childless, yet Isaac did not seek other women to fill his quiver as others had done. Instead, Isaac “prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife because she was childless.” [Gen 25:21] God remembered Rebekah and opened her womb, a direct response that God was pleased and answered his prayer. Isaac’s example led Rebekah also to seek the face of the Lord when she was wondering what was going on in her womb once she conceived. 

In the NT, we find Zechariah offering prayers at the altar of incense at his time of chosen duty. An angel appears and tells him that his prayers for a son have been heard and answered. Truly, “The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous has great effectiveness.”[James 5:16] 

Prayer is the divine path to receiving answers from the Lord. What prayer need is on your heart today? 

God Answers the Barren with Fruit

1Samuel 1-4 Yesterday we walked with Ruth from Moab to Bethlehem and saw the hand of God at work. Like Hannah in our story today, she had been barren until God touched her womb. God has placed these women in scripture that we might see His blessing after years of barrenness.

Hannah was not only childless, but she lived in a family where there were two wives. God designed marriage to be between one man and one woman, but her husband, Elkanah, like some others in scripture, failed to keep that rule.  Hannah’s rival was jealous and lacked compassion for Hannah.

Trials and storms either drive us closer to God or far away. Hannah chose to draw near as she cried out to El Roi, the God who sees and hears. Hannah knew her only resource was to pour out her heart to God. She was desperate, and in that desperation, she made an unusual vow to dedicate the child back to God.  Ecclesiastes reminds us that “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in paying it…and don’t tell the priest “it was a mistake.”

God hears our cries, and God answered with a little boy she would name Samuel meaning “asked of God,” who would become a leader in Israel. Even if you are facing adversity this day, stop and pour over this prayer of Hannah and pray her words back to God. Hannah learned the truth of Phil 4:7; bring all requests to God and His peace will guard your heart.

Faith Barometer

Judges 13 

God loves all people, but not all people love God, unfortunately. When you read the book of Judges, you need to keep that information front and center; otherwise, you will miss the blessings that He has for you.

In Judges 13, we meet a barren woman and her husband. Both are godly people, but it seems that God, in particular, loves infertile women, and in this story, this woman, we will call her “Mrs. Manoah.” She, like Elizabeth in Luke 1 and Hannah in the book of 1Samuel, is barren. To be infertile is a stigma, and God hears her heart. For four chapters, we read about this dear woman who will soon have her heart’s desire in a son named Samson. It is the “Mrs.” who is busy in the field and meets the angel of God. It is she that quoted verbatim his words to her husband, Manoah. But, like Zechariah, when Manoah heard that his wife would bear a child, he needed more confirmation. And, both sons, John the Baptist and Samson would be a Nazarite.

Mr. Manoah may not have understood all the details about Samson’s birth, but he is commended for his obedience and faith as he entreated the Lord. And like Jacob, wants to know the name of the “man of God.” He needs confirmation on all accounts. After seeing the miracle of the flame and the rising of the angel to heaven, he then has a crisis of belief: “surely we will die for we have seen God.” Not so, Mrs. Manoah! She was perceptive: look at the evidence, God answered our prayer, he accepted our offering, he wouldn’t have shown us these things or let us hear things like this! How great was her faith! And God blessed her with a son.

When God speaks, do we believe Him 100 %! Or do we need more confirmation like Manoah and Zechariah did?