HAPPY WITH CHURCH TONIGHT
Our Women’s Fellowship was very good. We praised God with singing, clapping hands and dancing. The sisters shared testimonies to the glory to God, to the shame of the devil and for the encouragement of the brethren. Sister G said that her husband was coming back from Abuja and had a terrible car accident. He was seated in front with the driver. The car is beyond repairs. But ‘he came out without a scratch and did not even have to take Panadol for body pains’. Sister Y said that her teenage daughter is always in terrible pains during a monthly circle. She cannot go to school or even stand up for two days each month. She prayed and God healed her. No more pains! Sister E said that her daughter is doing very well in school. She had been on the honor’s list since the beginning. She said that because she is a very busy mum, only God can take the credit for this excellent academic performance. Sister B said that last month she was ‘broke’ and had no food to eat; not even garri or rice in the house. Then somebody bought food stuffs at her door. They all gave glory to God for His protection and provision.
Then the Word came. The sermon was titled Life from a barren womb. This is the story of a great woman of God called Hannah. In Hebrew, her name means favor, grace, mercy or prayer. She is a blessed woman, beloved wife and mother. There is a lot we can learn from her. She was in great need. She wanted a child, a son. Her mate provoked her daily. When living under terrible provocation, what do you do? The only way of escape is to run to God and pour your soul’s pain before Him. This is exactly what Hannah did. She used her pain to go to God. Her heart was ‘grieved’ (1Sam 1:8). The word ‘grieved’ means angry, broken to pieces and exhausted. Her situation was painful for two main reasons: ‘God shut her womb’ and Peninnah persecuted her because of her barrenness. It seems that both God and the devil attacked her. The word ‘womb’ here does not describe only the female organ that carries the pregnancy but also the heart, the center of emotions or the source of compassion. God shut down her heart, her love. In the midst of her problems, Hannah discovered that her passion to worship God is quenching, the love for her husband is falling; her faith is getting weaker and that the store of compassion is almost empty. Hannah is drifting towards the danger zone of backsliding. Chronic sorrow poisons the spirit. We should not grieve like the unbelievers who have no hope that God is able to change the circumstances (1 Thess 4:13). We feel pain when attacked, insulted and provoked for no good reason or persecuted for our faith. But this pain should never overpower our faith in God. The devil’s plan is to destroy your faith and to make you backslide. But remember that the Lord Jesus Christ, our High Priest, promised this: Child of God, “I have prayed for you … that your faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32). Hannah runs to Jesus, the High Priest who prays for her! That is what we should do!
“So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish” (1 Sam 1:9, 10) This is the turning point in the story. Hannah arose! She leaves husband, friends and enemies behind and alone, she goes into the Temple to meet with God. She ‘arose’ from that place of pain and failure and by faith, she goes to meet with God. The word ‘arose’ describes spiritual warfare. It means divine strength to rise against your enemies like God’s standard high against the flood of evil. It is not a pretty female word. It describes a soldier for Christ standing against the enemy and ready to take the crown of victory. Hannah arose and prayed! This is a powerful combination. Many pray in the horizontal state of defeat. God does not answer. If there is breath in you, by the power of the Holy Spirit, woman of God, arise, shine and pray! Your light has come! Your testimony is here!
The word ‘ask’ appears 7 times in this chapter. Number seven is the number of perfection. It is also translated as prayer or a desire to obtain something. Hannah said that Samuel is what she has asked of God. Hannah prayed to God a particular form of prayer. She ‘continued praying before the Lord’ (1Sam 1:12). The word ‘continued’ here means increase, abundance, to enlarge, to excel, to multiply and to fill the store. This ‘continuing in prayer’ is praying with the strength of the Holy Ghost. You start praying in English, waiting for the Holy Ghost to take over your heart and mouth. It is like an eagle flapping the wings to reach a current of air. From that point on, the current carries the eagle. He soars by the power of the wind. He does not get tired. In the same way, you need to have faith that the wind of the Holy Spirit will suddenly take over your spirit, heart and mouth. You pray on and on without getting tired. This sign of God of ‘continuing in prayer’ is the preview of the miracle.
Hannah says that she is a woman of sorrowful spirit and that she poured her soul before the Lord. The word ‘sorrowful spirit’ means a terrible spiritual pain, a soul that is in labor and wants to deliver life. The word ‘pour out’ here means to spill forth (liquid or blood). It is like her soul is bleeding in prayer. It also means to spend money, life or soul in prayer. In other words, for prayer to be answered by God, you must pray not from your mouth, but from your heart. You must pray to God until, like Jesus said, ‘power leaves you’ and you become empty. “Jesus said: “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from Me.” (Lk 8:46). You pray in the Holy Ghost and you connect with the Lord. Healing power, miraculous power will come down from heaven into you. At the end of that prayer you know that you have given God your best. Your whole heart is on the altar. This is a ‘labor prayer’ that never fails to deliver. Most of the Christians are too lazy to ‘pray through’ like this. They pray a little and they get tired or discouraged. But they still wish to receive a big miracle. As you can see, Hannah has much to teach us about prayer that ‘moves’ God.
The next thing we are told that happened after this poured-out-soul-breakthrough prayer is that Hannah’s face has changed. Suddenly, her face changes from sadness and anxiety to one of peace and joy. This change of face reflects the change of heart. This is the Holy Ghost signal that God has changed the circumstances. Hannah now goes to eat and drink at the ‘table prepared for her in the presence of her enemies… But now, her head is oiled with joy and her cup overflows…’ (Ps 23:5) She now worships the Lord. We are told that God remembered Hannah and gave her a son. She names the boy Samuel, meaning ‘God has heard me’. Hannah prayed for two things: for God to remember her and to give her a son. Both requests were answered. Later, she brings little Samuel and gives him to God according to her vow. “Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there” (1Sam 1:28)
What are the lessons? God listens to the prayer of His people. God is a good God. He cares for you. This is His Word: “Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1Pet 5:7). But remember, God has the authority to give or to withhold blessings (God is able to shut the womb and to open the same womb). When God remembers you, that remembrance guarantees He’s blessing you. God answers our prayers in His own time. Nothing is impossible for God! Like the dead dry bones rise again when the Holy Wind blows on them, so also life can spring up from the barren womb! Trust God for your miracle! Until then, the worship must continue…
‘Open heavens… Open heavens… Baba Jesus, open the heavens over me…’