Thursday, April 23, 2015

Simplicity of Prayer

The Simplicity of Prayer – An Example of Prayer Answered

Hannah asked a son – God gave a son

1 Samuel 1:9–11

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.

Hannah is the perfect Old Testament parallel of the New Testament woman in Christ’s account of the unjust judge.  She is afflicted beyond measure; she has an adversary with no advocate; and she is disconnected from her world by the affliction of barrenness.  Yet in all of this, she is steadfast in the prayerful struggle with God for the knowledge of His will concerning her barrenness before the world and vindication before her adversary.  This Old Testament parallel to the New Testament teaching of Christ is almost breathtaking.

Hannah’s barrenness was a humiliating and consuming part of her life, exaggerated in its shame by her relentless adversary, Peninnah.  Hannah was overwhelmed by bitterness arising from unanswered prayer under the scrutiny of her adversary.  Hannah did not stress over fears, but she was in bitterness from experiencing immediate, real adversity.

She was plagued by a biting agony which was like the biting taste of a strongly repugnant drink which causes the body to recoil, and the substance to be hurled from the mouth of the taster.  This bitterness in her soul was the reaction to a circumstance so foul, so repulsive, and so onerous that her soul wanted to expel it as strongly as the human body expels bitterness from the mouth.

Her entire being convulsed and writhed in revulsion of her circumstance.

Hannah, under siege by her dreadful condition and the taunting of her adversary, made a severe vow before God demonstrating the depth of the anguish and her desire to rid herself of barrenness and its accompanying shame.

She vowed the life of her first born to God for His favor.

God, in His allowance of Hannah’s affliction and in His seeming lack of action, prodded, prompted, and prepared Hannah for the required demonstration of His will in her life, the giving of Samuel to the Lord.

As Hannah prayed, she became more aware that the circumstances required great sacrifice on her part.  After great personal suffering, knowingly or unknowingly, she yielded to God’s will concerning Samuel and his future.  In order to reverse this state of barrenness, she gave her only son to God as a perpetual offering.

God afflicted her so that she would bring forth a decisive leader for Israel.  She and sweet Mary, mother of Jesus, must have known many common hours of anguish and anxiousness.  Shades of Abraham and Isaac dance around the periphery of this amazing account.  God and his Son, Jesus Christ, were the actual fulfillment of such agony.

Hannah, gripped by her imposed condition, made the ultimate sacrifice of a mother; she gave up her only son whom God knew as the next great leader of His people.  It was in prayer, fasting, and endurance that this realization became ultimate reality to Hannah.

Simplicity of Prayer

The Simplicity of Prayer – The Fainting Disciple

1 Timothy 2:1
1  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

The preeminence of pray is in Jesus’ witness to the importance of praying.  In Luke 18, Jesus gives one of the most riveting examples of perseverance in prayer leaving no question of His support of the preeminence of prayer to face a hostile world in which God’s people need to have patient endurance.

Luke 18:1-8

1  And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;  2  Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  3  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.  4  And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;  5  Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.  6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

This passage teaches us that we are disciples tasked with waiting for deliverance.  We are not good at this.

The admonition to pray and not faint is significant.  It is not unusual for the praying believer to faint, distrusting his faith in God.  Fainting is a process for the believer; it is a gradual spiritual change with sudden manifestation.  Faith can be stifled by self-pity over seemingly unanswered prayer, which will cause faith to diminish; thus the question, will He find faith on the earth.

Self-pity overcomes the stamina of our faith, and feelings of being slighted rage through us, as we watch the lack of struggle by the unbelieving.  In fact, we feel extremely mistreated and even forsaken as we live a faith-life with seasons of lack of vindication for its performance.  The frustration causes defection from the faith-life of purity and the believer embraces sinful behavior or faithlessness.  Esau fainted because of physical exhaustion and sold his birthright to Jacob, an act of faithlessness.

Genesis 25:29–32
29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me?
Fainting can produce desperate prayers with demands on God for flippant sinners to suffer.  We resort to prayers of retribution against the sinner for our perceived suffering and their lack.  The prayer life turns to bitterness, and personal holiness is lost.

James 3:14–16
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

The widow sought redress about her grievances and was relentless in her pursuit, but she did not become sinful or bitter.  The believer is not to defect from faith in God or seek hateful retribution in bitter prayer.

We are to continue our prayer of faith as our hope to make things right.  We must not become anxious.  God’s answer must never become a prerequisite to enthusiastic, loving service.

Colossians 4:2
2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

Psalm 61:1–4
1 Hear my cry, O God; Attend unto my prayer.  2 From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed:  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. 3 For thou hast been a shelter for me, And a strong tower from the enemy.  4 I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.