“Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard; therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “how long will you be drunken? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah answered, “no, my lord, I am a woman sorely troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord,” 1 Samuel 1:13-15.
I love this passage, because it not only gives us an amazing insight into the heart of Hannah, but also uncovers the lack of understanding and spiritual discernment on the part of Eli. Hannah, weeping and praying for God to answer her prayer to give her a son, was more in tune with Him than Eli, the great priest of Israel. Eli could not discern the difference between a person praying in the power of the Spirit or someone who had too much to drink.
God reminds the children of Israel, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land,” 2 Chronicles 7:14. This passage was not written for atheists and skeptics but for the people of God.
The Christian community is weak and struggling in North America because we are no different from the culture that surrounds us. In 2012 the Barna Group discovered that 46 percent of churchgoers said, “Their life had not changed at all as a result of churchgoing.” Even worse, if at all possible, was the fact that 61 percent said they could not remember a significant new insight gained by attending church services. And a full one-third of professing Christians who attend church have never felt God’s presence while in a congregational setting.
If we are going to reach the world for Jesus then we should have more to offer than a testimony that church going has never changed our lives, or that we can’t think of one thing that has drawn us closer to God by attending.
To reach the lost we need to have something to say and a life that backs up the fact that we believe what we teach, and then demonstrate our faith through our actions. John 13:34, 35 teaches us, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
We need more Hannah’s who know what it is like to come before God with a broken heart and pours out their needs and pain to Him. We need more people who will humble themselves and turn their faces from their wicked ways and pray for the forgiveness of sins and the healing of our land.
We need more people who open their lives up to God and find themselves at the foot of the cross in repentance and humility. We need more people open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and are willing to follow Him wherever He should lead. We need more people who manifest the love of Jesus through their lives and actions under the direction of the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the glory of God and not for self-glory.
We need revival in our hearts. If we rely upon church leaders like Eli to lead us we will never move one foot ahead. Instead we need a world of Hannah’s who know where their power and strength lies. When we become a people of prayer, confessing our sins, our weaknesses and indifference we become open to the leading of the Spirit and renewal flows over us.
I for one do not want to be a spectator in the arena of God’s grace to a lost world. I long to be an active participant in God’s plan and have the willingness to be open to His love and direction.
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is in the Bible because she teaches us the power of prayer. All those years she had been barren and the butt of ridicule and harassment because of it. But when she poured her heart out to God something changed in her life and in consequence for the good of God’s people.
The morning after her prayer Elkanah’s family arose and worshiped God before returning home to Ramah. Once there Elkanah made love to his wife as he had often done before but this time, “the Lord remembered her,” 1 Samuel 1:19 What did God remember about Hannah? He remembered her prayers that she would become a mother.
What prayers do you wish God would remember and answer? Is it a prayer for a discouraged son or daughter or a broken spouse? Do you wish that circumstances in life would change for the better and life would move in a new and more positive direction?
Then take heart in the prayers of Hannah. She trusted God and brought her request before Him in such a heartfelt manner that His blessing was poured out on her and she conceived. Our problem is not that God doesn’t hear our prayers, but instead, we don’t pray believing God can and will answer our requests.
Begin by asking God to bring revival to your heart and transform your motives and desires. When you ask God into your heart through the power of the Holy Spirit something will be different in your life. There will be awareness and newness to life that wasn’t there before.
You are loved by God unconditionally and He gave His all for you, so don’t be shy about bringing your sins, failures and transgressions before Him in repentance. Give them to Jesus and bask in the power and wonder of His grace. I know it never ceases to amaze me that God could love me so much that He would go to the cross for me and just as He remembered Hannah in her anguish so He will remember each of us when we come to Him in prayer.
* For those of you who live in the St. Andrews area I would like to invite you to join Bob Cheatley (speaker – President of St. Stephen’s University) and Ruth Dunfield (musician) for A Day of Prayer and Refelection: at the Anglican Chruch Hall, 75 King St., St. Andrews., Saturday, March 21, 9:00am – 3:00pm. Lunch provided: for details and to preregister, call 529-3843 or visit www.anglicanparishstandrewsnb.ca
** Please remember to pray for the Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith in many countries around the world. There is a great evil settling on this earth and we must be vigilant in our prayers and stay close to Christ. Our hope is in Christ and he is faithful to his people. Please take the time to read about what is taking place in the world around us at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…