A Fervent Prayer

May 13, 2018

There is a saying that behind every man’s success is a woman. While we can quickly point to the wife as the woman behind the man’s success, it is not always the case. In most cases, if not all cases, that woman is the mother. Although fathers are officially the head and the priest of the family, the mothers are always perceived as the prayer warrior of the family. Mothers are the most consistent and persistent in lifting up their needs and the needs of the family to the Lord. One good example is Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. Samuel was actually conceived as a result of the persistent and fervent prayer of his mother. Because the Lord had closed her womb, she prayed, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Sam 1:11). In due time, Hannah gave birth to Samuel.

At the point of desperation, anyone can pray and make all kinds of commitments to the Lord. Sadly, however, many who promised to do something once their prayers were answered reneged in that commitment. But the Bible is very clear when the Lord says, “If you make a vow to the Lord your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the Lord your God will certainly demand it of you and you will be guilty of sin” (Deut 23:21). In fact, King Solomon is blunter when he said, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow” (Eccl. 5:4). In her case, Hannah fulfilled her vow and offered Samuel to the service of the Lord. She only needed to wean her baby before finally turning him over to Eli, the priest. Young as he was, Samuel ministered before the Lord away from his mother.

It was a great sacrifice for Hannah to do what she did. Not many mothers who waited for so long to receive the longing of their hearts to have a baby would do the same. They would rather keep the baby to themselves, disregarding whatever vows or promises they made to the Lord. Hannah always believed in her heart that God was sovereign and that he was able to reverse her situation in life. Even as she made good her vow, she was fully convinced that the Lord will bless her in the end. In her prayer, Hannah acknowledged this truth saying, “The Lord brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The Lord sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (1 Sam. 2:6-8). While she was able to visit Samuel only once a year during their annual pilgrimage, she did what a caring and loving mother would do. She would make and give Samuel a little robe.

Certainly, the Lord is faithful and honours those who honour him. As Hannah made good her vow, the Lord blessed her beyond measure. In their annual pilgrimage, the priest Eli would bless her husband saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:20). And the Lord was gracious to Hannah that she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Her faith was rewarded as her fervent prayers were answered one after the other.

In Hannah’s life, we could see that the Lord allows challenges to come to test even the faithful. It was the Lord who closed the womb of Hannah. In spite of this she did not give up trusting in the Lord. She was like Job who refused to give up his integrity when pressured by his wife to do so. Job told his wife, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10). Indeed, Hannah chose to be a wise woman who believed that humility pays. She humbled herself before God for she knew that God gives grace to the humble. And at the appointed time, the Lord opened Hannah’s womb because she persevered in her faith.

Even from the outset, Hannah believed that the Lord answers prayers. When Eli, the priest, blessed her the first time saying, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him,” she believed it fully. Without question and hesitation, she responded, “‘May your servant find favour in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1 Sam 1:17-18). Indeed, God is an answering God and he will answer our prayers if we pray just like Hannah did. She offered fervent prayers and God made her, a barren woman, the mother of six children. Glory to God!