Summary: 50-DAY SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE Hannah Put simply, personal and persistent prayer energizes our dreams because PRAYER IS FAITH IN ACTION.
One of my favorite comics is “The Family Circus.” Once I believe that the father was helping Billy with his homework with the rest of the family there in the kitchen. Dad asks Billy, “What is the greatest power source in all the world?” In turn everyone is pictured thinking what the answer may be. We can see each of the children thinking about things like high voltage power lines, speeding race cars, nuclear explosions, Niagra Falls and other such powerful things. Mom however pictures something else; the greatest power on earth that she can imagine is her children kneeling beside their beds saying their prayers.
Someone has said (I think it may have been Spurgeon), “Prayer is the nerve that moves the hand of God.” Someone else has said (and I’m not sure who, but it’s still true), “All hell trembles when the weakest saint is on his knees in prayer.”
Prayer is powerful. The Bible says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (James 5:16 NIV).
As we continue our 50-day spiritual adventure “Daring to Dream Again–Overcoming Barriers That Hold You Back” this morning, we are going to look at Hanna. Hanna was not just a dreamer, nor did her life end filled with regret because of unrealized dreams. Hanna energized her dreams through prayer and saw her dreams come true. “Energizing Dreams Through Prayer”, you too can see your God-given dreams become a reality!
+ Read: 1 Samuel 1:1-28 (The Message Bible)
1. Hanna had a dream that was unfulfilled.
+ 1 Samuel 1:2 Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. (NIV)
Hanna had a great dream. Much like the dreams of young ladies today, Hanna dreamed of having a family. She never guessed on her wedding day of the sorrow that was before her. Years passed and Hanna was unable to have the children she had always dreamed of having.
In Old Testament times, barrenness for women was a curse. A childless woman was considered a failure; she was an embarrassment to her husband. Husbands actually had the right to divorce his wife if she was unable to produce children. Children were an important part of the economic standing for a family; large families were a symbol of status and wealth.
This was a “good news/bad news” story for Hanna. The good news was that her husband Elkanah loved her very much; her marriage was safe. The bad news was that Elkanah had a second wife, Peninnah who had given Elkanah many sons and daughters. Hanna’s bad dream became a living nightmare.
Let’s take a brief “rabbit trail” because some of you may have already run down that trail with some questions. You don’t have to look hard to find examples of polygamy in the Old Testament: Jacob and Esau, the grandsons of Abraham; David, Solomon, and other kings of Israel and Judah all had multiple wives. Not even the example of David, a man after God’s own heart, legitimizes polygamy.
From the beginning God’s plan was that marriage would be a relationship between one man with one woman.
+ Genesis 2:24 . . . a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (NIV)
Why then did polygamy exist among God’s people? The short answer: it was for the same reason husbands took multiple wives in pagan nations. Why was polygamy such a common practice?
 It enabled a man to have more children.
 The continuation of the man’s family line increases by having more sons.
 A large family increased the labor force to do all the work that was required in an agrarian society.
 A large number of children was a symbol of status and wealth.
 Often many young men were killed in battles against warring nations. Therefore, polygamy was an acceptable way of supporting women who otherwise could not have otherwise married and in turn been poverty-stricken.
Despite all these would be benefits of polygamy, a husband having multiple wives often caused serious family problems. Elkanah’s family was no exception as we see the rivalry that developed between Hannah and Peninnah.
Alright now, lets get back to Hanna’s dream, a dream that was unfulfilled.
2. God will sometimes postpone the fulfillment of our dreams.
Remember a God-given dream takes time; no one dreams the dream and then wakes up to discover that the dream has become a reality. Sometimes the delay is part of God’s will, a part of fulfilling His greater purpose in and through our lives.
+ 1 Samuel 1:7 This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. (NIV)
Hanna didn’t just have a bad day with Peninnah. Hanna had to endure the criticism and cutting remarks of her rival year after year after year. Broken and crushed within her soul, Hanna would cry out to God for help; “God have you forsaken me? Please give me a child to show that you are with me.”