Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Have You Prayed About It?

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: People jump in and out of marriages. They jump in and out of jobs. They jump in and out of churches because they’re trying to solve their own problems. I wonder what God would do, what He might do, if we would just wait.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, January.

Think about the next 24 hours. What’s the biggest, most intimidating thing you have to do? Have you prayed about it? Sometimes I get into problem-solving mode, and I forget to do the most important thing: pray. Do you do that too? Nancy will talk about the importance of prayer, continuing in a series called Hannah’s Prayer and God’s Power.

Nancy: Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 1. Again, in case you’ve not been with us, you remember there were two wives in this family. Not ideal, not recommended, not God’s plan, but it’s the way it was. Isn’t it amazing how God can and often does overrule and redeem our failures, our foolishness?

Elkanah never should have had this second wife. This was a means of his having children. The second wife did have children, but it was the child of the first wife that God blessed and used.

How many times we jump in and figure things out and manipulate our circumstances, and we make a mess rather than just waiting for God to step in and do His thing!

That’s what happened, you remember, with Abraham and Sarah also. They couldn’t wait for God to give them this promised child. So Sarah said, “Take Hagar, my handmaid, to be your wife” (see Genesis 16:1-2). Very similar situation. Well, Hagar had a son, but Hagar and that son became a source of much grief and heartache to Abraham and Sarah because they couldn’t wait for God’s best.

Hannah and Elkanah apparently didn’t wait for God’s best. God wanted to give them a son. Do you think God knew He was going to give Hannah a child? Of course He did. It was part of His eternal plan.

God knows how He’s going to fulfill His purposes and His promises in your life too. So don’t run ahead. Don’t take matters into your own hands, as it appears Elkanah may have done in this story.

People jump in and out of marriages. They jump in and out of jobs. They jump in and out of churches because they’re trying to solve their own problems. I wonder what God would do, what He might do, if we would just wait—let Him be God and let Him do things in His time.

Well, Hannah and this rival wife, Peninnah, and their husband, Elkanah, have gone to the temple (or the tabernacle, as it was known at that time), which was located in Shiloh. They have gone to worship the Lord.

This is a devout family. It’s a worshiping family. They’ve gone to offer sacrifices to the Lord. But Hannah is in great grief and heartache of soul because she longs for this son.

We’re going to see that she has come to long for more than a son. She’s come to long for God to address some of the great evils that are being done in the nation at that time. But she still has this mother’s heart and empty arms, the longing for a child.

So verse 9 tells us, “After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh,” this is the feast that followed the offering of the sacrifices, “Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord.”

By the way, it doesn’t tell us here why he was sitting. But there are references later in 1 Samuel that tell us two things that probably tell us why he was sitting. One, we know he was very old. Chapter four tells us that [see verses 15, 18]. We also know that the man was very overweight. He had been self-indulgent.

So he was old, and he was overweight; so he’s sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple. Verses 10-11:

[Hannah] was deeply distressed [she was in bitterness of soul] and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

First let’s look at her prayer. Through the years of waiting and unfulfilled longing and praying and provocation from this rival wife, Hannah had come to know God in a way that she probably would never have known Him otherwise.

Don’t forget that. Through your suffering, through your adversity, through that person who provokes you year after year, you can come to know God in a way that you might not otherwise ever have come to know Him.

She had come to be burdened about the things that burdened His heart, and we’re going to see that in her vow. But let’s look at her prayer.

First of all she says, “O Lord of hosts.” She acknowledges God for who He is, and she uses a name for God that means “Lord of hosts.” That name in the Hebrew language is Jehovah Sabaoth—the Lord of hosts.

If you’ll back up to verse 3, you’ll see another reference to the Lord of hosts. It says Elkanah her husband used to go up year after year “to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh.”

That reference to the Lord of hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth, in verse 3 and then again in verse 11—those are the first references in the Bible to the Lord of hosts, the first time we see Jehovah Sabaoth. God had revealed Himself to this couple in a way that others had not known the Lord, because each name of God tells us something about the character and the heart and the ways of God.

The Lord of hosts—this is the name that speaks of His universal, sovereign command over all. The hosts are the armies of Israel. Those armies were few, and they were ill equipped compared with those of their enemies. But God was their leader; and through God, the armies of Israel could be victorious. He was the Lord of hosts.

But the hosts could also speak of the heavenly hosts: the sun, the moon, the stars. God is the Lord of those heavenly hosts, and God is the Lord of the angelic hosts, the holy angels and the fallen angels and Satan himself. All the hosts of earth and heaven and hell—God is the Lord of all those hosts. He is their commander. He is their ruler. He is the commander-in-chief.

So Hannah prays to the Lord of hosts as her husband has taught her to worship Jehovah Sabaoth. “You are the Lord who commands everything. Everything in heaven and earth is under Your control.”

She comes to the Lord in worship, in reverence, in submission, in recognition that He is God, that He is sovereign, that He is in control, and that He has all power. He’s the Lord of hosts. He’s the commander of all the armies of heaven and earth. As a result, He was the only One who could do anything about her affliction. He had closed her womb. He’s the Lord of hosts.

She went to the One who could do something about her problem. First, she acknowledges God for who He is, the sovereign Lord and commander of all the hosts.

Then she acknowledges herself for who she is. She does not exalt herself. She exalts God, and she sees herself in her proper place. What does she call herself? “I am your servant. You are the Lord of hosts. I am your servant.”

Ladies, that’s the proper posture for prayer. It’s the proper posture for all of life. “You are the Lord of hosts. I bow before You as Your servant.” That word servant sometimes is translated maidservant. It’s a female servant, a helper, one who fulfills the wishes of another. “I am your servant, O God.”

She realizes, “I’m not in charge. I’m just the servant.” We have to come to the place where that’s all that we care about. Lord, You are Lord, and I am Your servant.

Notice also that she doesn’t demand in her prayer. My guess is that she had been through some of those kinds of conversations with the Lord previously. We’ve had some of those kinds of conversations. But you don’t come as a servant to the Lord of hosts and make a demand.

He’s God; you don’t tell Him what to do. What does she do? She appeals. She pleads. She knows that He is God, and she is not.

She says, “Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look upon the affliction of your servant and remember me and do not forget your servant.” She pleads with God. She appeals to Him. She’s in earnest about this, but she recognizes who He is and who she is.

Then notice that her petition is specific. “Lord . . . if you will . . . [please] give to your servant a son.” She’s specific. She tells God the desire of her heart: a son.

I think about that song that says, “Oh, what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.” We whine about it. We groan about it. We moan about it. We complain about it. We tell everybody else about it.

The screensaver on my laptop says, “Pray about it.” I want to work on it. I want to change it. I want to fix it. I want to call somebody about it. But my computer reminds me, “Pray about it.”

Tell God your requests. Be specific. Remember, He’s God. It’s His choice as to what He does about your requests. But tell Him your requests.

She’s specific. She realizes that children are a gift from God, as is every good and perfect gift. So she goes to the One who dispenses gifts. She goes to the One who is able to fulfill her heart’s desire.

What’s on your heart today? Have you prayed about it? As you’ve prayed, have you come in worship and submission, recognizing that He is the Lord of hosts? That means He’s able to fulfill your request, but that also means it’s His choice as to whether and when He fulfills your request.

Have you come to Him in submission, surrender, worship, and reverence as the Lord of hosts, and said, “Lord, I am Your servant; I plead with You; I appeal to You; would You grant the desire of my heart?” Then tell Him what that desire is, and leave it there.

Leslie: Have you spent any time today just telling God of the deepest desires of your heart? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has shown us why it’s so important, and she’ll be right back with the second half of today’s program.

We’re in the middle of a series called Hannah’s Prayer and God’s Power. This series has challenged my prayer life. I hope you’ll get Nancy’s complete teaching on CD. If you’d like to share this teaching with a small group, you can order the series on DVD. Either the CD or DVD can help you learn to be more consistent in your prayer life.

To order a copy you can call us toll free at 800-569-5959 or order online. The web address is ReviveOurHearts.com.

Are you growing closer to God? You may not feel like you learned much today compared to yesterday, but as you look back over the last year or the last five years, do you see some improvement? Here’s Nancy to talk about growth.

Nancy: I’m so glad that the Lord has mercy on us as we are in process. None of us have arrived in our faith, and we’re all painfully aware of that in our own lives. We have so far to go. We fall down; God’s grace picks us back up again. And God is merciful to deal with us in process.

We’ve been studying the life of a woman; her name is Hannah. She’s an Old Testament character, and she’s a woman in process. As I’ve been meditating on and studying this passage over the last several days, I’ve been impressed with the fact that God was patient with her through the process, as He is so kind to be patient with us through our process.

Hannah has been through this process of years of barrenness, of longing to have a child, of having unfulfilled longings. To torment her further, there’s a second wife. Her husband is Elkanah, but his second wife is Peninnah, who is “Fertile Myrtle.”

As one woman said to me recently, “My husband looks at me, and I get pregnant.” That’s kind of the way it was with Peninnah. She’s able to have children.

But Peninnah is antagonizing Hannah in her barrenness continually, year after year. Hannah goes through the whining, moaning, groaning, depressed sort of behavior. God has mercy on her, but He doesn’t let her stay there. God has a plan for the nation of Israel at this point, and He wants Hannah to be a part of that plan.

He is shaping her and molding her and equipping and fitting her to fit into that plan. So she has to be willing to endure. But as she endures, something is happening inside of her. She is changing.

I look back on my own life, and now 40 years of spiritual pilgrimage and walking with God, I can see that God has used adversity and hardship and unfulfilled longings and irritating people to shape and mold my life and to make me more like Jesus and to make me better equipped and fit to be His instrument. God is sanctifying me.

He’s using me more today than was true ten years ago because I’ve been through some life experiences in the last ten years. God wants to use those things in our lives to change our agenda, to change our perspective, to change our values, to change our attitudes, to change us, because He has a purpose for us.

As this story of Hannah progresses, we don’t have all the details. But as I’ve been meditating on this passage, I see a progression through which Hannah is moving. She starts with this very self-centered longing and desire.

There’s nothing wrong with the longing and desire . . . until it becomes your fixation, your obsession. “I have to have this. I can’t live without this. I can’t go on without this. I’m going to act in a depressed way if I don’t get what I want. I’m going to become demanding.” This is where that could have led her, and it’s where a lot of women go.

Instead, Hannah let God take her through a different pathway, a progression that was leading to faith and surrender and ultimately greater fruitfulness than she ever could have imagined.

And God is taking us through a progression, leading us to greater faith in the sovereignty and the promises of God, greater surrender to the sovereignty of God, and ultimately greater usefulness in the kingdom of God than we could have had if we had not been through that period of affliction and longing.

In the last session we looked at Hannah’s prayer. Today I want us to focus on the portion of her prayer that was a vow. She came to the Lord. She said, “I am your servant. Please give me a son. And if you will give to me a son then I will give him back to you all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

It’s obvious that Hannah wanted a child. That’s why she was praying this prayer. She had this unfulfilled longing. But I believe, as I’ve been meditating on this passage, that something deeper and fuller had come to happen in Hannah’s heart by this point.

It was a continuing progression. Remember, she’d been going to the temple year after year with her family. Her family was a devout family. They worshiped the Lord; they served the Lord; they offered sacrifices. They were praying people. They had some issues in their family, but they were people who basically loved the Lord.

Yet as she’d been going to the temple (the tabernacle) year after year, she’d been seeing the spiritual decline of the nation. Worship had become a farce for most people. There was greed; there was arrogance; there was immorality in the priesthood. We saw how the priest’s sons were sleeping with temple prostitutes right outside the temple door.

Hannah had seen this. She had seen how, for all these years, the nation had been in spiritual decline; it had sunk to all-time lows. I believe that during this period of time, God had been gripping Hannah’s heart with a concern that was bigger than her personal concern to have a child.

She still wanted a child; she longed for a son. But in this vow she says, “God, I want this son not just for me. I want to have a son for You. I want to have something to give to You that will make a difference in this nation at this crucial time.” I think that’s what was behind her vow.

If she just wanted this for herself, why would she have said, “Please give me a child, and I’ll give him back to You”? What’s the point of having a child if you’re not going to keep the child? I think her desires had expanded.

Her grieving and mourning had expanded beyond her own sense of loss and sorrow to share the grief and the sorrow that God felt over what was happening in the nation. God was enlarging her heart in her distress and giving her His vision of the world and giving her a heart for His kingdom.

So Hannah prayed, and she vowed to give this son back to the Lord. She knew the condition of Eli the priest’s sons, Haphni and Phinnehas. They were a mess. So she wanted a son who would serve the Lord in spirit and in truth. She wanted to give God this child.

So she said, “God, if You give me this son, he will be Yours.” She made what we know as a Nazirite vow on behalf of her son. (If you want to study more about the Nazirite vow, you can go back to Numbers chapter 6, where this vow is described.)

This was not a “gimme” prayer. This was not bargaining with God. This was taking up an intercessory heart for what concerned God. “God, You need a man in this nation to lead the people, to be a godly priest; and I’m willing to have that child and to give him to You for that purpose.”

I think she’d come to the place where she was no longer seeking this request for herself, her own satisfaction, her own pleasure, but now for God’s sake and the sake of God’s kingdom.

Verses 12-13: “As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman.”

Apparently it was not unusual to have debauched behavior going on around the temple. He didn’t even recognize a praying woman when he saw one because of the lack of holiness that had been going on around the tabernacle for so long.

Verse 14: “And Eli said to her, ‘How long will you go on being drunk? Put away your wine from you.’” She was misunderstood by the priest.

So she answered, verse 15, and said, “No, my lord,” I am not a drunk woman, “I am a woman troubled in spirit.” (Some of your translations say, “I’m a sorrowful woman.”) “I have neither drunk wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

Here’s a woman who didn’t turn to wine or strong drink (alcohol or drugs) to dull the pain, to escape her problems, as so many do today. Instead she turned to the Lord and poured out her heart to Him. Isn’t that what prayer really is? Pouring out your heart to the Lord.

As I read this passage, I was reminded of Jesus in Gethsemane. The Scripture says in Mark 14:33-34 (NKJV), “He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled [sorrowful] and deeply distressed.” He was on His way to Calvary. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch [while I go and pray].’”

Luke 22:44 (NASB) tells us, “Being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to ground.”

Isaiah 53:12 says, “He poured out his soul to death.”

Hebrews 5:7 (NIV) tells us, “He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

Jesus poured out His heart to the Father. He wasn’t resisting the will of the Father; He wasn’t wanting His own way. He was submitting to the will of the Father in His prayer. He was saying, “Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done. I surrender myself to Your purposes.” And because of His reverent submission, He was heard.

Hannah had that same reverent submission, I believe. Her heart was sorrowful; it was torn. But it was not torn just because of her own griefs, because she was taking upon her own person the griefs and the sorrows that were in God’s heart.

That’s what intercession is. It’s mourning and grieving on behalf of the sins of others and the spiritual needs of others, pouring out your heart to the Lord.

Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

Pray about your problems. Pray about your affliction. Turn it to the Lord, but do it in reverent submission, for the sake of His kingdom, for the sake of His glory, for His kingdom purposes in this world.

Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss, bringing alive the biblical story of Hannah. You and I can learn a lot from this praying woman. Her focus changed by spending time with God.

If you need some help learning how to spend time alone with God in prayer and Bible study, I hope you’ll get a copy of Nancy’s workbook A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms.

Nancy chose several psalms that have been especially meaningful to her. She helps you study and understand these better. You’ll dig in and find out how these psalms intersect with your life, and you’ll find out how to use these psalms to direct your prayer.

When you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms. Ask for it when you donate by calling 800-569-5959, or visit our website.

Hannah’s prayer changed her heart, even while her circumstances stayed the same; but eventually her circumstances changed too. We’ll hear about that on Monday. I hope you’ll serve and worship this weekend at your church and then be back with us for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

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