James 5:16, “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much
Hannah in our text this morning had a loving and caring husband. She was married to Elkanah who also had another wife called Peninnah. We are not told who was the first wife of the two, we are only told Elkanah loved Hannah more than Peninnah for we see how they each got treated when it came to getting gifts Vs. 4&5, “And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife… vs. 4 But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah”. God had blessed Peninnah with the fruit of the womb, she had children while Hannah was barren for the Lord had closed her womb. You would think her joy would come from all these gifts. In life we always assume that people who have riches are happy because they can afford to have anything they want, but truth is many are very miserable.
Hannah may have been ok with her situation until her rival Peninnah began to provoke her severely to make her miserable according to 1Samuel 1:6, and I am not surprised for I saw this between Leah and Rachel, Jacob’s wives who had the same rival. Leah had children, Rachel did not, Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah and therefore Leah provoked her daily and that made Rachel desire a child. Hannah was provoked so much that she desired a child of her own too. We too can be provoked by people around us to desire bigger cars, bigger houses, bigger promotions, bigger ministries or anything you could be provoked to want but the question is, what is the motive that drives you to pray. Yes they are good things you can desire to have but the motive for desiring them can be wrong. Do you want to be big to fit in, or feel better than someone else, or not feel rejected, or that let your pride get the best of you? Remember James 4:3, “Ye ask and receive not, because you ask a miss, that you may consume it upon your lusts”. In other words, at times when we ask, it’s for the wrong reasons, even something good. Hannah desired a child, question is, what was her motive? Did she want a child to get back at her rival, or did she want a child so that she could feel blessed too, or that she would not be attacked anymore? Any of the above could have been her motive and therefore year in year out she prayed but God would not answer her prayers. Don’t blame God for not answering your prayers when you know for sure that if He answered them, you will not go to church anymore, you will not give Him glory, you will be prideful. God will not give you something He knows will destroy you until you begin to get your act together. Some people desire to be in a relationship, married, used of God, etc., the question is what is your motive?
Hannah may have revisited her year in year out prayers and saw how selfish her prayers were the reason God would not respond to such prayers. Then she prayed an effective prayer 1Samuel 1:11, “Then She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maid servant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, no razor shall come upon his head”. This is not about eloquent praying but effective praying. This is the type of prayer that supersedes our selfish desires and ambitions as we begin to see that anything God is going to bring our way is not for us but for many. He may entrust it in our custody but it’s not for us. Her vow was for her son to be God’s servant all the days of his life, I could imagine God saying “I’ve waited for you to pray this way for I now know for sure that honor and glory will come back to me“. After she prayed this prayer, her desire was granted and more than she had asked for. She asked for a male child, God gave her a prophet Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”
Now I understand why many people cannot be used of God, they will love the praises of men and God will not get any of it. 2Corrinthians 4:7, “But we have this treasure in the earthen vessels that the excellence of the power maybe of God and not of us”. The bible says that our God is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with anyone. About 12 years ago God could not use me fully for every time He did something through me, I took the credit in the sense that when people thanked me, I responded “you are welcome” instead of saying “give God all the glory”. He began to work in me and then trusted me with the work again and the more I gave Him glory, the more He used me; the more I decreased, the more He increased because my motives were now right.
When I pray now for a promotion, a better place to live, and to be used more is because I want to glorify Him in all things and others be blessed through the elevation for it’s all about Him. My motive is to build a testimony that many may know that God is able. John the Baptist was told that Jesus was doing the work that John should have been doing, his response, John 3:30, “He must increase, that I may decrease”. Because of Hannah’s change of prayer attitude, Samuel is born to become one of the greatest prophets for he served many. Yes the mother rejoiced to have received a male child (prophet), God used His gift to the woman to reach many, God also blessed her some more 1Samuel 2:21, “And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the LORD”. Rachel bore Joseph who became the No. 2 man in Egypt. What is that thing you have desire and prayed about? what is your motive? The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”. This concludes the series. Blessings Ev