God is real! The Supreme Being is a Person who is able to communicate with human beings who are made in His image. He is not an impersonal force. The Lord is not uninterested with communicating with us. The Creator wants to communicate with His creatures. And He wants us to talk to Him.
One way to understand prayer is that it is simply a human being talking to God. Prayer is important. Prayer is good. Prayer is beneficial.
What kind of relationship would you have with your parents, husband or wife, children, friends if you rarely talked to them? Prayer builds the relationship between us and God.
Prayer helps us get to know the Creator better.
Prayer is beneficial because the Lord will answer good prayers that we pray!
Prayer is beneficial because prayer helps us get close to God and stay close to God.
Prayer does so much good! No wonder why wise Rabbi Paul encouraged the Colossians to devote themselves to prayer, to make prayer a priority, to give their time and attention to talking to God, to be willing to sacrifice other things for it.
We too need to make prayer a priority, to give it our time and attention, to study how to pray, to sacrifice less important things for it. We need to learn more about how to pray, and how to pray all the time.
Rabbi Paul instructed the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing; to learn how to discipline their minds to talk to God throughout the day. They were not to limit their prayer to those times when they felt that their lives were unmanageable, when something big happened that they couldn’t quite handle on their own. They were to talk to Him about the big things but also about the little things.
They were to talk to the Lord about everything that made an impression on them. They were to have a continual conversation with their Creator about the things that were interesting to them.
They were not only to ask the Lord for things. They were also to praise Him for the Supreme Being that He is, and for the wonderful things that He has done, is doing now, and will do!
Prayer is good. Prayer is important. Devote yourselves to prayer. Pray without ceasing. Learn how to pray!
Some of the great prayers of the outstanding men and women of faith are recorded for us in the Bible. Those prayers can help us learn how to pray. The prayer of Hannah the mother of Samuel the prophet, found in 1 Samuel Chapter 2, is one of those great prayers.
But first, before we consider her prayer, we need some background to help us better understand her prayer. The time this prayer was prayed was toward the end of the period when the judges led the nation of Israel. This particular time was about 1040 BC. A priest named Elkanah was married to two women, Peninnah and Hannah.
Even though the Sinai Covenant allowed a man to have more than one wife, that still went against the original one man/ one woman principle that the Lord designed into creation, and even though having more than one wife was allowed, almost every time the Word of God mentions a family with more than one wife, there were problems in that family. This time was no different. There was a rivalry between the two wives, and their rivalry was expressed through their children – or lack of children. Peninnah had sons and daughters, but Hannah had been unable to conceive a child. In that day, being childless was a disgraceful thing. It was bad enough being childless, but Peninnah made Hannah’s life miserable by her constant taunts about her inability to have children.
One year during their annual visit to the Mishkan, the Tabernacle at Shiloh, the taunting was particularly bad, and Hannah responded to her misery by praying a very intense prayer for a child. The Lord answered her prayer, and enabled her to conceive. That son who was born became one of the greatest leaders of the Chosen People – Samuel, a great prophet, priest and judge who would be used by God to lead the Chosen People.
After years of barrenness and misery, Samuel’s birth was an amazing answer to Hannah’s prayer! Samuel’s birth was a wonderful blessing to Hannah, a joy, a thrill, a refreshing of life! Out of her great happiness and thankfulness, again Hannah prayed and said: My heart rejoices in the Lord. In my innermost being, at the very core of who I really am, I know the Lord, Adonai, the Eternal and Uncreated God who is without beginning and without end. And, this knowledge that I possess way down deep, this understanding of Adonai, the Only One who has life and existence inherent within Himself, makes me very happy!
This member of the Chosen People who was married to a Jeiwsh priest really knew the Lord; and she knew a lot about the Lord, about His attributes, about His character, about what He is capable of. She knew the Lord was real. She understood that He is the source of life. She knew that Adonai is eternal, and that He is in control of all things, and that He is good, and that He did good things to and for His creatures. This knowledge made her very happy.
Her great prayer continued: In the Lord my horn is lifted high (horn is a symbol of power and status). My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in Your Yeshua, Your deliverance, Your Help, Your Salvation. In other words: Because of the Lord I am strong. The Lord has given me strength. The Lord has helped me out of a very difficult situation. I am in a much better position. The Lord gets the credit for doing this. His wonderful help delights me.
Hannah knew that Adonai is not only able to powerfully help human beings who pray to Him, but He is also holy. There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You. The Lord is kadosh – holy, pure, separate, unique, different from everyone else. No one is comparable to Him – not the mysterious cherubeem or the bright burning serapheem; not the living creatures that are near His throne; not any of the armies of mighty angels that serve Him; not any sinful and mortal creature; and certainly not the false gods of the religiously confused nations of that day.
There is no Rock like our God. Hannah knew that the God of Israel is different from the gods of the Gentile nations. He is our God, the God of Israel, the special nation that He chose and revealed Himself to. He, not Baal, not Ishtar, not any of the gods of the darkened nations is the true Tzur, the Rock – strong, powerful, stable, enduring, protective, dangerous if opposed.
He is the only true Eloheem, the Mighty God, the Strongest One, the Most Powerful Being. This God and Rock is the sole source of stability and protection in a dangerous and unstable universe. He is the Eternal God Who will protect His people now and forever. He is the One worthy of the love, loyalty, devotion, obedience and service of all of His creatures. He is the One who will crush those who dare oppose Him.
Hannah started her prayer by praising God, declaring truths about who Adonai is and what He does. Then, she turned her prayer to human beings. She declared her belief that human beings are accountable to God for their actions and for their words, so those actions and words better be God-honoring! Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed.
The Lord is all knowing. He knows everything we say and everything we do, and He will weigh and judge and reward or punish us for everything we say and everything we do. Therefore no creature should be proud. No human being should have an arrogant attitude, that spirit of acting or speaking independently from God, as if He doesn’t exist; as if the creature is not obligated to submit to the Creator; as if it is unimportant if our words and actions aren’t yielded to the King and His will; and if He won’t judge us.
The Lord is so much greater and stronger than any individual human being, or even all of humanity put together. This powerful Lord is in control of the destiny of each human being. And, He is righteous and just and fair. And, One of the things this Powerful Just Being occasionally does is reverse the roles of those who live in this unfair world, so that the weak are empowered and the strong are weakened. The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. God can weaken the strongest man, disempower the mightiest warrior; and He can strengthen those who are weak and stumbling and bring them to a safe, powerful place. Wow!
He can remove the wealth and resources of those who were rich and successful, but those who were poor and hungry and without resources, He can abundantly meet all their needs. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
When it comes to women and childbirth, the Lord can reverse the positions of those who had an abundance of children or a lack of children – as Hannah knew well. She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.
This eternal Lord has control over our position, our power in life, our status, our wealth, our ability to have children. His authority extends even to the ultimate issues that concern each one of us, to the great issues of life and death, even to resurrection from the dead and gifting human beings with eternal life! The Lord brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.
If the Supreme Being has authority over great matters like life and death, death and resurrection, He certainly has control over lesser things like wealth and poverty; position and power and status. 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; He seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. Since He has such power, doesn’t it make sense to want to be in a right relationship with Him? Be on His good side? Be one of those whom He loves and favors and wants to bless?
Hannah knew that the Lord had to have such complete power, control , authority over every aspect of human life because she knew He is the Creator of the universe. For the foundations of the Earth are the Lord’s; on them He has set the world. Hannah, even though she never went to college, knew more about reality than most of the intellectuals of today. She knew the universe did not create itself. She knew the God of Israel created the universe out of nothing. Adonai made the universe and everything in it. He put into place all of the laws, mathematical formulas, designs, self-sustaining mechanisms of this vast, complex, beautiful and amazing universe. Foolish creature, you think He doesn’t know you and what you think and do? That He can’t judge you? That He is unable to help you?
In fact, the Lord is committed to use His wisdom and power to lovingly care for and protect and bring to ultimate success, bring to the goal of eternal fellowship human beings who know Him, who are in a right relationship with Him, who faithfully serve Him. He will guard the feet of His faithful servants.
And He is determined to use that same wisdom and power to silence, isolate, eliminate those who defy Him; who ignore Him. But the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
Mere human strength, human wisdom will not be enough to have a genuinely successful life. It is not by strength that one prevails. Don’t rely on mere, limited human strength or human wisdom. Seek the Lord and the wisdom and strength that comes from knowing Him and getting close to Him and staying close to Him! It is knowing who He is, yielding to the King of Kings, becoming loyal to Him and His will and His principles that results in success, victory, lasting achievement.
Don’t ignore such a Supreme And Powerful Being who is capable of doing so much good to you, and also able to do so much damage to you! Don’t ignore Him and don’t oppose Him. Those who oppose the Lord will be broken, ruined, destroyed beyond repair.
Judgment is coming for each and every human being. No one will escape His scrutiny. The Most High will thunder from Heaven; the Lord will judge the ends of the Earth. The Lord will judge powerfully, acting like the most powerful and scary thunderstorm. The Lord will judge completely – to the ends of the Earth, deciding whether each human being will live with Him in His everlasting Kingdom, or perish forever.
Then the ultimate reversal will take place. The righteous weak will be completely vindicated and overcome the godless strong. Those who are in a right relationship with the eternal God will experience perfect fairness in a perfect world!
If you know these truths, and act on them, they will change your life. These truth will determine the way you live, the things you value, the choices you make, and your eternal destiny.
Finally, Hannah ends her prayer by declaring that the Lord is the Supreme Ruler, and He also gives good strong leaders to His people. He will give strength to His king and exalt the horn of His anointed. Godly leaders, whether they are prophet, priest or king, religious or political leaders, are a great blessing to a religious community or to a nation. They should be respected and supported – like Samuel and the kings of Israel, would be; and, ultimately how Messiah Yeshua, the greatest Prophet, Priest and King and Savior will be.
Prayer does so much good! Prayer is so beneficial because the Lord answers good prayers that we pray! Prayer is so good because it helps us get to know the Creator better, and helps us get close to God and stay close to God. Devote yourselves to prayer. Pray without ceasing. Learn how to pray!
What a great prayer Hannah’s prayer was! It deals with big issues! Not like so many of our prayers today. Full of truth, good theology, focusing on God and what He does and who He is. It is a prayer full of gratitude, thanksgiving, and delight because of the sure knowledge of ultimate victory. May we learn how to pray like this great woman of God, Hannah.