Unanswered prayer is one of the biggest challenges we can face as Christians. It can be intensely discouraging. Think of Hannah as you reread this portion of her story. Hannah’s torment at the delay of her heart’s desire was genuine and powerful. Perhaps you can relate. Have you ever faced a dilemma that had no earthly solution? Maybe you are facing just such a challenge today.
Take heart! Remember that Hannah did not pray once for a child and find a baby in the crib the next morning. Even after Hannah finally conceived, there was a nine-month wait before she held her baby in her arms.
We can assume that as Hannah waited for her baby she made preparations for him. I know that each time I was an expectant mother, as I waited I got things ready. I happily daydreamed of my child’s future and even prayed for his or her salvation. Waiting need not be a stagnant time.
My point is that God’s timing is perfect. As we persevere in prayer and wait on God, let our prayers be mixed with praise and a spirit of happy anticipation. There have been times when I felt worse after praying. In hindsight, I see that those were times when I was simply rehearsing my fears before God without acknowledging God’s sovereignty.
The Lord wants us to find strength, hope, and encouragement in our prayers. Let’s take our example from the Lord’s Prayer. As we pray this prayer today and reflect on its familiar words, may we look for the elements of praise and hope.
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen”(Matt. 6:9-13, KJV.)
The inability to have a child brings pain to many today, and this was equally true in ancient times. In that context it was sometimes even worse, for Peninnah openly ridicules Hannah for being unable to conceive. But as a result of Hannah's desperate, heartfelt prayer, God blesses her with a son, Samuel, who will become a powerful prophet. Hannah then rejoices in a God who exalts the poor and needy. Hannah provides an example of the boldness with which we also can approach God now because of Christ’s sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem is the focus of the passage in Mark. Jesus here predicts the demolition of the Temple and the city, which the Romans executed in 70 ce.
Read 1 Samuel 1:4-20. How do you persist in prayer when your prayer seems unanswered for a long time?
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10. How do you express your joy and thanks when God answers your prayer?
Read Hebrews 10:11-25. What helps you to persevere in the practice of your faith?
Read Mark 13:1-8. What signs make you anxious about the future? What helps you to hold on to hope?
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