I was at a bible-study on Wednesday and the subject of prayer came up, as it often does in bible-studies. The conversation boiled down to the fact that we should all be praying for God’s will in any and every situation. That got me to mulling, why bother praying at all if all that’s required is to say to God, Your will be done.
So I mulled and I mulled and I remembered the prayers of the great saints of the bible like David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, and Hannah. Let’s look at Hannah. Hannah was the wife of Elkanah who had two wives. His other wife Penny (Peninnah) had children but Hannah was barren. Every year Elki (the hubby) would take the family to worship and give sacrifices to the Lord. Elki would give portions to his wives, sons, and daughters so they could give at the temple, but he always gave Hannah double because he loved her very much and because the Lord had closed her womb.
Penny was so jealous of Hannah that she tormented her day and night for years. She would provoke Hannah about her empty womb until she wept and wouldn’t eat. And even though Elki would reassure Hannah by telling her she meant more to him than any sons it didn’t help. So, one year at the temple, while everyone was eating and drinking, Hannah stood-up in tears and bitterness of soul, poured her heart out, and made a vow to God. ” O Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery, and not forget me, and give me a son, I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…”
It’s interesting that the priest of the day, Eli, noticed her standing mouthing words and chastised her for being drunk. (Ha, he was probably three-sheets-to-the-wind himself.) Hannah responded to him saying, ” I am a woman deeply troubled. I’m not drunk; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. Do not take me for a wicked woman. I have been praying out of my anguish and grief.”
This is where it gets interesting. Eli then says, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you ask of him.” Now remember Hannah had been praying for years. After this little episode she went her way and she was no longer depressed and she actually had something to eat. Shortly after the family returned from worshipping the Lord Elki lay with Hannah and the Lord remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah got pregnant and gave birth to, in my humble opinion, the greatest ever priest of Israel, Samuel.
What if Hannah had simply prayed, (or not prayed at all) thy will be done? Would she still have become the mother of Samuel? Let’s look at this. Let’s say she prays nothing but, thy will be done. What would that prayer do for her? Would it help her pour out her anguish? Would it give vent to her grief? Would it flood her soul with hope? Would it set her feet to dancing? I think not. I think, as it would me, it would leave her in the pit of hopelessness and despair because she would not be communicating/praying/connecting in a deep calling unto deep way and she would not be sharing her heart with God.
Whereas pouring out her grief in prayer Hannah vented her anguish through groans and tears; pleading spirit to Spirit as deep calling unto deep, she connected with the God of the universe. And what was His will in all this? Could it be that He already preordained Hannah as Samuel’s mother, but wanted Hannah to relinquish him to the priests at the temple so that he would be trained-up in the temple and not at his mother’s knee? Had Hannah given birth to Samuel in the natural course of her marriage bed would she be so quick to offer him up to the Lord for his whole life? You know she wouldn’t. But because of her bitterness of soul, her broken-heart, her agonizing longing for a son, she was willing to give him to the Lord. And as history recalls Samuel was the most anointed priest who ever lived.
I can hear you asking, but what did Jesus say about prayer? See Matthew chapter six for full instructions. Jesus said: Go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And when you pray do not keep on babbling, for your Father knows what you need BEFORE you ask Him. This is how you should pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also HAVE forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
And there you have it! We are not meant to simply say, Thy will be done and to have no part in His kingdom’s presence on this earth. We are called to petition Him for our every need, from our daily bread to deliverance from evil. And just as Hannah poured out her overwhelmed heart and soul so did Jesus. When facing the torture of crucifixion He didn’t lie down and say, “Thy will be done.” No, just like Hannah He petitioned God Almighty to take this cup from Him. He knew what the will of God was, and yet He still asked that the cup be taken from Him. He prayed for hours with moans and groans, tears and petitions. Just like Hannah. (Matthew 26:38)
It is okay for us to share our hearts and fears, needs and wants with God in prayer, even though He knows them before we do and His will always takes precedence; because by sharing/praying those concerns in a spirit of humility and worship, we are lifted up out of this world and plugged-into the heavenly realms where we become empowered to align with God’s will.
So, the question was, why bother praying? My answer is twofold, because in prayer we connect to our Maker and are gently molded to His will, which is always the best way to go; and in prayer we are comforted and strengthened by the rebooting of our spirit to His.
Do you have anything you’d like to share on prayer?
The beautiful Acrylic Painting: Deep Calls Unto Deep is by Deborah Nell