A Mother's Prayer
On Mothers' Day, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon about Hannah's prayer in I Samuel 1-2.
She was suffering socially and culturally. But she was diligent in her relationship with God.
Hannah managed her suffering with uncommon grace.
Hannah's representing a larger narrative (as in common in Hebrew literature).
Peninah represents larger cultural expectations for women. Motherhood was supposed to make her happy and satisfy her.
Elkanah represents an alternative. The double portion showed his love for Hannah. He offers her a real alternative: He'll take care of her! (He wasn't a typical man of his time.)
But even that represents a departure from her God-given calling.
Elkanah's saying, "Find your satisfaction in me." But we're designed to find satisfaction in God alone.
In today's world, we're still urged to find satisfaction in our children or in a great love. Today, women are also given the alternative of finding satisfaction in our careers.
These various alternatives don't work, don't produce satisfaction - and everyone knows that, really.
Hannah rejects both the alternatives before her.
Hannah's response is a transformative, faith-soaked, God-dependent prayer.
The phrase "Hannah stood up" in verse 9 is an idiom meaning, "She put her foot down." She made a firm decision.
It's not bargaining with God.
If Hannah had been bargaining, the order would have been: Prayer, Provision, Peace. But in this case, the order was: Prayer, Peace, Provision.
Hannah has resolved. She stood up! And then she got peace.
She's been praying for years, but something shifted.
She prayed, "All my life, I've wanted a child for me. Now, I want one for you, Lord."
She wants a child in service to God.
Peace comes in response to the prayer. Hannah has let go. She wants God's story for her life.
How does Hannah get to this place?
We look at her prayer in I Samuel 2.
First, she acknowledges God's sovereignty and power, which is how spiritual breakthroughs begin. "You're God - I'm not."
The Great Reversal: God does not see the way we see.
Hannah was blessed because she suffered.
The Great Reversal: If I hadn't experienced those hard things, I wouldn't now experience such freedom. "It is not by strength that one prevails."
At the end, she brings up the Messiah. And her prayer foreshadows Mary's prayer, which also brings up the Great Reversal.
Cultural expectations tell us what we need to be happy.
What if the whole checklist is wrong?
There is an alternative. Stand up and surrender.
"When they are wholly His, they will be more themselves than ever." -- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters