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Summary: pt. 4 of a 7 part series on prayer. looking at biblical people and how they connected with God in prayer. feel free to use any or all of this...

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Learning to Pray

Pt.4 Hannah’s Plea

Intro:

At my house I have this green shelf that is mine. Amy loves order and I live in chaos, so in order to keep the balance in our house I get this little shelf in order to spread chaos! This is also the place where things go that get broken, where things that are missing something go. Sort of like the island for misfit toys, only it has bracelets and various other things that I can’t even recall… it is the place where Amy and the girls put things when they need me to fix it, because it is broken.

Have you ever felt like you were missing something? Like you were broken? Perhaps you felt like you were just not up to snuff, or just not good enough? Maybe people even told you that you were not good enough… that you were lacking in some way? You were the object of ridicule, or the butt of the joke?

Life is hard like that, you feel alone, unwanted, worthless, unloved… like a forgotten toy in the back of the closet, or a green shelf, waiting to be fixed. I think the truth is we have all been lost in the darkness, we have all been uncertain and unsure, we have been broken. So the question is, were do you turn in these dark times? We all know the answer, we are in church after all… we are supposed to turn to God in prayer! However, we all know that isn’t always the case, as the old hymn says:

What a friend we have in Jesus,

all our sins and grief’s to bear!

What a privilege to carry

everything to God in prayer!

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

all because we do not carry

everything to God in prayer.

So I guess my real question is what do you turn to when you are felling broken? When you are lost in the darkness? When you feel not good enough? What do you do? Who or what do you turn to?

Stress has become normal, and with stress is its best friend depression, and those two always bring a bag of fun with them. Anxiety, self doubt, pain, illness, and thoughts of suicide. And when people encounter these things they turn to destructive behaviors: alcohol and drug abuse; sex and pornography, and other addictions like gambling, overeating, over indulging etc; they retreat within a fantasy world through books and movies; they hide in their work, pushing themselves until they collapse at night so they don’t have to deal with their problem; they hurt others, especially those who love them most, they push and shove and do everything possible to avoid the problem.

What do you do? Where do you turn? Where do you go?

We have been talking about prayer for a few weeks, about how to pray… let me ask you, have you been praying? Have you tried talking and connecting with God?

A couple of weeks ago I said that we sometimes treat God like he is Santa or that he is our servant, of which he is neither, however I am afraid that in our effort to swing the pendulum back we go too far the opposite direction, and won’t ask God for anything at all!

However Jesus said to ask, to seek, to knock. He said to ask for daily bread, to ask your father in heaven who already knows what you need. To ask.

But the question is, what do we ask for? I knew one guy who believed you should ask God for everything from the big things like world peace to the littlest thing like a parking space... When I was a kid I would prayed for stuff: toys, bikes, a bb gun, going to Disney World… in the past few years I have found myself praying for a flute, a new mattress, and for my van to hold together! Is it wrong to pray for these things? Is it selfish? What can you pray for? A Million dollars? A Lamborghini? A new house for the homeless? A job for the jobless? A baby for the childless? A change of heart? For the salvation of a city? For this cup to pass…

If you have your bibles turn to 1 Samuel 1

1There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?"

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