Last Sunday in Sunday School, we began our Bible Story curriculum learning. We started by talking about Hannah. Hannah was the first wife of Elkanah. However Hannah was unable to have any children and was very sad by this to the point where she wouldn’t eat and wept almost constantly. Elkanah loved Hannah and didn’t understand her distress, feeling she was more valuable to him than 10 sons. Hannah desperately wanted a child. Elkanah’s second wife Peninnah had already had several children and often teased Hannah about her inability to have children. That just added to Hannah’s distress.
Elkanah and his family made yearly trips to the Temple at Shiloh to worship and to give their offering. On one of these trips, Hannah went into the Temple and began praying to God to answer her deepest wish. Eli, one of the priests at the Temple saw her praying but heard no words so he accused her of having had too much to drink. After speaking to her for a while, Eli came to realize that Hannah wasn’t drunk, but rather she was pouring out her heart to God, hoping God would answer her prayer. Touched by her pain, Eli gave her a blessing and sent her on her way.
Some time after that, God did answer Hannah’s prayer, giving her a son who she named Samuel which means God Hears. Hannah was so grateful to God, she brought Samuel to Eli at the Temple and dedicated him to living there and serving the God who so lovingly answered her fervrent prayer. Hannah went on to give birth to quite a few children after that.
So where does that leave us? Why doesn’t God just answer our prayers? We wouldn’t be asking if we didn’t really want what we were asking for, right? Well God does answer our prayers. Sometimes not granting them is the answer. As a parent, when my child asks me for 3 cookies, do I give her all 3 cookies? Why not? She clearly wants the cookies. But my answer might not be a simple one. I might be worried about her weight. I might be worried that she’ll spoil her dinner. I might be worried that she had cavities at her last dental exam. I might be worried that giving her 3 cookies today will set a precedence where she will want 3 cookies every day. I may not tell her all of those things. I may simply say no. She will have to live with my no, even though she is disappointed.
Should God answer all of our prayers with a yes and give us whatever we want? The short answer is no. We don’t know what the plan is for us. We might be asking God to grant a prayer wish today that won’t fit into His plans for us for tomorrow. Hannah teaches us patience. Her story teaches us about living with disappointment. Her story also teaches us persistence. Hannah persistently prays for a child. God hears her praying and knows she wants a child. When Hannah’s prayer isn’t granted, she keeps asking and praying. We won’t ever really know what made God finally grant her prayer. Maybe the plan He had for her included the waiting. Maybe her situation didn’t allow for her to lovingly raise a child. Or maybe her persistence finally wore God down and he said yes.
So what do we do when we know we want or need something in our lives. We P.U.S.H. We should Pray Until Something Happens. We might realize that even though what we thought we wanted wasn’t what was best for us and the P.U.S.H. brings that to light. Or we might finally have our P.U.S.H. prayers answered and we are able to appreciate what we’ve been given that much more!
Whatever the question, prayer is always the answer. God hears us. He listens to us. He knows us and the plans He has for us. Sometimes the answer is a resounding yes, sometimes it’s a gentler no, and sometimes it’s a not yet.
Let’s resolve to P.U.S.H. like Hannah did. Pray with love. Pray with hope. Pray with the depths of your emotions. Pray with persistence.
May the love of God answer your prayers in His time with His knowledge.
In peace and love,
Your Sunday School Director