Summary: Statistics show that almost everyone prays. But do you ever wonder if your prayers really reach Gods ears? Do you sometimes feel like you’ve got a bad connection? If you have questions about prayer, you're not alone. This sermon series will help.
Can You Hear Me Now?
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 9/9/2012
There was a little boy who was kneeling by his bed with his mom to say his nighttime prayers. About half way through, he began to shout to the top of his lungs, “Dear God, I’ve been real good this year so please let me get a new bicycle for my birthday.” His mom said, “Son, God’s not deaf; you don’t need to yell.” He said, “God’s not deaf, but Grandma is and she’s in the next room.”
Now, there’s a little boy who knew how to get his prayers heard!
If you’re just joining us, last Sunday I started a brief series that I’m calling Can You Hear Me Now? In it we’re examining the privilege and power of prayer. In Luke 11, which we discussed last week, Jesus’ disciples ask him “Lord, teach us how to pray?” And that’s Jesus does. He gives them a pattern to follow, which we know as the Lord’s Prayer. Then he gives them a parable about persistence in prayer. And finally he promises that if they are persistent in prayer, then they will find the answer—and the answer is not the things of God or a favor from God, but God himself.
Like I said last week, prayer isn’t a secret formula to get things from God; rather, prayer is the secret to experiencing real intimacy with God. Just as the best part of a journey is often the “getting there,” the sweetest part of prayer is the offering of it.
But what happens when your prayers turn sour? What happens when you pray and pray, but life doesn’t seem to be getting any better? What do you do when it feels like God isn’t listening? Or, if he is listening, he just doesn’t care? Now, I know it’s not very “Christian” sounding and you may not want to admit feeling that way, but I think if we’re honest most of us have been there at some point in our lives.
Hannah knows all about that.
Hannah’s story is one of heartache and hopelessness. But God knew that her story could touch the hearts of weary souls a thousand generations later looking toward heaven and wondering, “Can you hear me now?” And so, God tells her story for us in the opening pages of First Samuel. I’d like to invite you to ponder her story, and as you do, perhaps, discover your own. Her story starts off with a problem.
• HER PROBLEM
Life is full of problems, isn’t it? We encounter problems on an almost daily basis. Some of them are easily resolved or overcome, but others can eat away at the very core of our being. That’s the kind of problem that Hannah had.
Hannah was the wife of a man named Elkanah. But she wasn’t his only wife. Elkanah had another wife named Peninnah, which itself poses all kinds of problems. But here’s how Scripture sums up Hannah’s primary problem: “Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not” (1 Samuel 1:3 NLT). Hannah knew that children were a gift from the Lord and more than anything else, Hannah just wanted to know the joys of motherhood.
If you’ve ever struggled to become pregnant or even had to deal with the heartache of losing a baby during pregnancy, I’m sure you can identify. And having to live with Peninnah and her pugnacious progeny only made matters worse. There’s no keener reminder of what she didn’t have than someone else’s swollen belly. And of course, Peninnah insisted on adding insult to injury every chance she had. The Bible says, “Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat” (1 Samuel 1:6-7 NLT).
Year after year after year. Peninnah would gloat and Hannah would wonder, “What’s wrong with me? Doesn’t God love me? Why would God give children to a mean spirited hag and leave me feeling like my womb—hollow and barren.”
Maybe your problems have nothing to do with children. Maybe your problem is that no matter how hard you try, you just can’t make your marriage work. Maybe your problem is that no matter how much time has passed your heart still breaks when you see an empty place at the table where your loved one use to sit. Maybe your problem is that people who should have loved you didn’t. Maybe your problem is that you try to drown your problems at the bottom of a bottle. Maybe you’re tired of taking pills, tired of doctor’s offices, tired of being tired. Whether it’s bills you can’t pay, people you can’t please, habits you can’t break, failures you can’t forget, or a future you can’t face—we all have problems. And sometimes those problems can kick us in the stomach and knock us to our knees. But, as someone once said, “When life knocks you on your knees… well, that’s the best position in which to pray, isn’t it?”