Answered Prayer

1 Samuel 1:19-28

19Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

21When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”

23“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

24After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 28So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Introduction

What is the latest prayer request you have that has been answered? Of course, when we say, answered prayers, we expect positive result, and that the Lord has granted the prayer item that has been requested.

It says in James 5:16-18, 16The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. 17Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.

Elijah was a man of God. He was a prophet. He had his own share of weakness. He was also frightened of his life. He escaped to Mt. Sinai when a woman threatened to kill him. It only proves that he was human like us. God answered his prayer items. So, what’s his secret? He prayed earnestly.

A childless woman named Hannah prayed earnestly to have a son who was born Samuel. She promised to give him to the Lord all the days of his life. When her prayer request was granted, she readily acknowledged God as giver.

1. Acknowledge

19Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”

The name ‘Samuel’ possibly came from the Hebrew word ‘Shem’ which means ‘name’ plus ‘El’ which means ‘God’ (Shem + El or ‘name of God’). It’s possible that the name ‘Samuel’ came from the Hebrew word ‘Shama’ which means ‘to hear’ plus ‘El’ which means ‘God’ (Shama + El or ‘heard of God’).

Therefore, when Hannah named her son Samuel, it practically reminded her to acknowledge that God heard her prayer request. Her husband Elkanah loved her but she only got pregnant and gave birth to Samuel when she prayed. Weeping in bitter anguish may reflect her earnestness in praying.

What is the importance of acknowledgement whenever the Lord grants our prayer request? God wants others to hear what He has done in our life so that they might be encouraged to trust Him more. Christ wants us to acknowledge Him before others as practical proof when He recognizes us before His Father.

The Lord Jesus declares in Matthew 10:32, 32“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

It says in 1 John 1:9, 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

The original Greek word homologeó was translated ‘acknowledge’ in NIV.

It is also properly interpreted as ‘to confess, to speak the same, to agree fully, to publicly declare, to admit, to praise, or to celebrate.

Interestingly, the English word ‘acknowledge’ used in Matthew 10:32 and the English word ‘confess’ used in 1 John 1:9 were both derived from the same Greek word homologeó. Both English words ‘acknowledge and confess’ have the same meanings in Greek, even though they are used in different situations.

To acknowledge Christ before others is to confess, praise the great things the Lord has done in our life. To confess our sins before God is to acknowledge, fully admit we did things not acceptable to God. When Christ’s Spirit is at work in us, we publicly declare Christ before others and agree that we have sinned.

It says in 1 John 4:13-15, 13This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.

Hannah specified to God that she wanted a son. Naming her son Samuel was her acknowledgement that the Lord granted her prayer request. Her friends and relatives may have been curious why she named her son Samuel. Hannah would readily tell them that God granted her prayer request to have a son.

21When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfill his vow, 22Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, “After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.” 23“Do what seems best to you,” her husband Elkanah told her. “Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.” So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.

Hannah promised to give her son back to the Lord all the days of his life. When the right time came, she brought Samuel to Eli the priest. By fulfilling her promise she affirmed that Samuel was the Lord’s answer to her prayer request.

2. Affirm

24After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. 25When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, 26and she said to him, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. 27I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. 

28So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” And he worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah celebrated the Lord’s answer to her prayer request to have a son. When she brought Samuel to Eli the priest and told him that the boy was God’s answer to her prayer, she affirmed that God granted what she asked of Him.

Hannah’s readiness of acknowledging and affirming what the Lord has done in her life were practical exhibits that she was earnest, sincere, and expectant that the Lord would grant her prayer request to have a son.

How are you?

Have you ever been greeted by someone with the phrase “How are you?” Not many people are mindful when they greet others using the phrase “How are you?” How many would really mean it? Still, some ask question but do not expect answers. It implies that “answers are not relevant to them.” Similarly, believers pray without expectation. God answers or not, it’s not very crucial or urgent.

Why would people say “How are you?’ but does not wait for you to tell them about your situation? Most people usually say, “I’m fine!” Why? They don’t want others to know their struggles. While those who asked “How are you?” maybe careful also not to trespass privacy. They are careful not to impose.

The “How are you?” greeting and “I’m fine!” answer has become a norm of civility, and an expression of shallow relationship among acquaintances. People with deeper relationship spend much time to discuss and understand each other.

When Hannah prayed bitterly in her anguish to the Lord, she poured out her heart’s longing to have a son. It was not a few moment of prayer, for sure. Eli the priest may not have noticed her praying if she had few minutes praying.

It says in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22reject every kind of evil.

23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

When the Spirit of Christ prevails in us, we pray continually, which includes rejoicing always, giving thanks in all circumstances, pleasant or not, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our life is quenched or suppressed.

Because He loves and wants us not to miss His love and care, the Lord rebukes us when we sin. Our sin hinders our fellowship with Him. Our human instinct when we are rebuked is to feel bad. We need to be very alert to admit our sinfulness and seek God’s forgiveness. Surely, God wants to help us repent.

We also need to ask God to give us His peace, sanctify us and set us apart. By His grace, we can pray continually, rejoice always, and thank God.

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