Gateway Blog

Filter By:

A Mother's Prayer

On Mothers' Day, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon about Hannah's prayer in I Samuel 1-2.

Hannah's Suffering

She was suffering socially and culturally.  But she was diligent in her relationship with God.

Hannah managed her suffering with uncommon grace.

Hannah's Response

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.

Hannah surrendered.

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

Response: Coming to God as a Merchant or as a Lover?

main image

Last week, we had a break from our typical Sunday services, celebrating "Soup-er Bowl Sunday."  Our food drive brought in 2,287 pounds of food for Dulles South Food Pantry -- 1,536 pounds from Falcons fans and 751 pounds from Patriots fans.

Pastor Ed Allen interviewed Redskins punter Tress Way, and they talked about living life not as a poser, but truly for Christ.   We finished up the service with cake and fellowship, and a grand group effort sorting the food.

Next week, Ed will continue the series on "How to Relate to God."  With that in mind, here are some thoughts from Kevin reflecting on last week's sermon and the concept of coming to God as a Lover rather than as a Merchant:

Lord... what am I doing wrong?

I cannot tell you how many times I have felt compelled to ask this question in my prayers.  Indeed, I hadn't given the question much thought until today's sermon.

 
I can tell you quite honestly that I know in my head that my relationship with the Lord is not based upon bargaining.   After all, I know that I cannot expect that a few good deeds will make the Lord look favorably on me (read that -- solve whatever problem I am facing).  The Lord is not going to solve my problems simply because I read the bible and prayed a few times this week. 
 
But even though I know this in my head and my heart, in my desperation to alleviate my suffering I will quickly revert back to the tools and techniques I crafted as a two-year-old.   
 
As two-year-olds we learn the power of bargaining -- and our earthly parents encourage this learning by participating in the process.  
 
We learn that if we ask in the right way, we can usually obtain what we want (especially for those of us living in Northern Virginia).  At two years old we begin learning how to ask at the right times, in the right places, of the right people -- so that we can get immediate payoffs.
 
It's not surprising then that we wonder what the magic recipe is that will enable us to experience the Lord's power where we think it is really needed... (like in our bank accounts or hospital rooms).
 
But our relationship with the Lord is different. 
 
Unlike our parents, the Lord has infinite patience, infinite capacity, and infinite capability.  When we foolishly try to bargain with him, not only do we demean all that he has done for us -- we also diminish and devalue the true nature of our relationship with him.
 
Why do I emphasize the word foolishly?  Because I realize now how clueless and insulting my plea for help must sound to a Loving God.  
 
God Loves me, and he loves my family.  Indeed, he loves me so much that he paid a price beyond anything I might imagine, so that I and others like me, might have a chance not only to reconcile but also to have a relationship with him.

The Lord does not want me to come to him as a merchant trying to purchase a bit of his power for a few small trinkets.  Instead, the Lord wants us to come to him as a lover, soaking in the deliciousness of his nature, delighting in his presence, and sharing with him the intimate details of our perceived successes and failures.  
 
Giving up the way of the merchant is difficult because we have so many years of practice on that path.  But the way of the merchant is not a path to freedom. 
 
Perhaps the next time I pray, I'll share with the Lord the most intimate details of the challenges I am facing in my life, my home, and my business.  I'll tell him of how I feel tempted to be fearful -- and how much I rely on him for his strength and his love, I'll tell him of my hopes for the future and ask for his guidance and support knowing that my plans, without him, cannot be fully fruitful.  Most importantly, I will let him know how much I love him each day -- from the glorious first kiss of morning sunrise to the playful smile on my daughter's face, to the enchanting joy of a star-filled sky.
 
Lord, please help me remember the next time I call out in anguish -- to pray the prayer of the Lover and not the prayer of the Merchant.
 
I ask this in the name of Jesus,   
Amen

Previous12345