Real life issues, real life prayers: 04/26/20

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Message: Real life issues, real life prayers’    

Text: 1 Samuel 1:1-20

Introduction: With the shutdown of just abouteverything, I bet many people are missing their heroes. You might not call them that, but they are people you admire, look up to, or follow:

Actors, actresses, sports figures, politicians …ok maybe that last one’s a stretch.

As we often do with heroes, we idolize them.

We put them up on a pedestal and believe that they have a great life, that nothing ever truly bothers them or gets them down.

But as autobiographies andbiographies are written about them, they often reveal a different, somewhat unknown side… their life struggles.

The things that have been real life issues for them.

While we often don’t want to believe it, when it sinks in, we do consider them being more real.

The same thing can be said of our Biblical heroes.

We read about all the wonderful, powerful, great things they did for God.
And we come to the conclusion that they were so much different than we are, because they had a greater faith in God,to do the mighty things they did.
And because of their great faith, they were somehow immune to any real life problems, like the ones we so often experience; as just you know, ordinary Christians.
But, we often skim over the passages where our Biblical heroes are described as; needy, sinful, struggling with real life issues, even broken and desperate.

You see, the Biblical characters that did great things for God, actually did struggle with real life issues. And those issues often led them to desperation.

The only thing that differedbetween them and us, is how they chose to respond to their problems.

Hannah, is one of those Biblical characters

Background: We often idolize her because of her great faith in God, displayed by her two recorded prayers in the Bible.

What we often glance over is fact that it was her brokenness, the agony of her desperate situation, that led her to her knees in prayer.

Hannah, like all of our Biblical heroes, chose to respond to her real life issues, with, real life prayer.

Look, Christians all believe in, at least, the idea of prayer. But all too often it’s treated by many as nothing more than just a wish.

Today, we’ll be peering into the life of one of those Biblical heroes, Hannah.

She was part of a devout religious family who regularly worshipped and served God.
Yet, she was hurting, being verbally abused, struggling with what God had done in her life and that broke her, brought her to the point of desperation.
It brought her to real life prayer, that we’ll see had a real lifeanswer.

Transition: Open your Bibles to 1 Samuel 1:1

A. 1 Samuel 1:1-8 Real life issues

1 There 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. 2 He 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. 3 Now 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. 4 On the day when Elkanahsacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 And 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. 8 And 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?”

Transition: So, do you see any of Hannah’s real life issues? There are least 4 I want to address.

1. One man, two wives

Elkanah, had two wives. See any problems there?

Polygamy was tolerated at that time.
But it’s never described in the Bible, in a good light, since it always caused strife, as it did in Hannah’s family.

Here’s how it probably happened for Elkanah.

He married Hannah and after a few years of trying, she was unable to conceive a child.
Elkanah was a Levite and they assisted the priests in worship in the tabernacle and temple. So he had to have sons so they could serve Israel in worship.
Elkanah took another wife, Peninnah, who gave him sons.

One man, two wives, a real lifeissue for Hannah.

 

2. Hannah is barren

Another real life issues for Hannah was that she couldn’t have children.

Understand, she would have betalked about as cursed by God, as being in sin by the townspeople.

While barrenness in women is often physical… this one was spiritual in nature. Listen closely so you don’t misunderstand me.

Sometimes… God brings, not just allows, God brings hardship, difficulties, trouble into our lives.

The text says …twice, the Lord had closed her womb. There was a divine purpose behind Hannah not being able to have children.

One we’ll see later in our text and in my message next Sunday.

Christian, listen.

Whether the trouble youre going through is directly from God or that Hes allowing it,
understand that God may want to do something in your life,for the purpose of affecting the lives of those around you.
So how you respond to and live in the midst of your trouble, your real life issue, is vital.

ILL: Oswald Chambers in his book ‘My Utmost for His Highest’ wrote: If through a broken heart God can bring His purposes to pass in the world, then thank Him for breaking your heart.’ (Rick Gillespie- Mobley)

3. Hannah is provoked

Another real issue took place each time Elkanah took his family to worship in the temple.

After worship they would eat before they went home.
Elkanah would give a double portion to Hannah and a single portion to Peninnah and her children.
He did this because he loved Hannah and felt sorry that she couldn’t have children.

Well, Peninnah took offense to being treated this way and took it out on Hannah by provoking; verbally abusing her, for two reasons:

For being barren
And because she was jealous. After all she knew Elkanahloved Hannah more than her.
And you know the problems jealousy can bring to a relationship.

Understand, this was not just a one time thing. It happened every time they went as a family to worship.

Well, this time it was just too much for her to handle. She was so depressed that she just couldn’t eat the food her husband gave her, instead cried.

4. Hannah’s husband tries to help

One last real life issue. Hannah husband, tries to help, but really doesn’t.

He went to her and asked why she was crying. As if it wasn’t obvious… even to a man.
Basically he was saying, ‘Honey, you’ve got me, what else could you want?’ Pretty good, but he left out the fact that he also had another wife who was causing a lot of her problems.
Perhaps he should have just held Hannah.. and then confronted Peninnah.

Transition: Yes folks, godlypeople, like Hannah, have real life issues, that can often lead to brokenness. But, when they have a real passion for God, it can also lead them to real life prayer.

B. 1 Samuel 1:9-18  Real life prayers

1. Hannah is broken (vs 9-10)

9 After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

Here’s the picture:

Hannahs depressed, desperate for something to change in her life.
Her heart was so heavy, so broken

Note that Hannah’s brokenness didn’t lead, to her undoing, but to her knees.

She leaves and goes to the temple by herself to pray. Where she cries her heart out to God.
BTW, the high priest, Eli, was sitting in the entrance to the temple and saw her go in.

Hannah did the right thing! After all didn’t God say:

In Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
In Psalm 50:15 call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you

Hannah’s prayer came from the place of brokenness. It was a real life prayer, that matched her real life issue.

Driven from her family, by despair, she sought the presence of God… her only hope.

Christian, in seasons of trouble, in times of despair and brokenness, when you’ve lost hope and your joy is gone:

The nearness of God will be your strength and deliverance.
The nearness of God will bring a wellspring of refreshing to your heart.

2. Hannah make a vow to God(vs 11)

11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your servant and remember me and not forget Your servant, but will give to Your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

Think about what Hannah could have done:

She could have raised angry fists to God for her inability to have children.
She could have said since God won’t help me, I’m not going to worship or serve Him.
She should have blamed Elkanah for getting married again and not understanding her, or Peninnah for making her life miserable.

But she didn’t do any of that…did she? No, instead, with great tears and sadness, she cried out to God in prayer. And not just to God in general, she called upon the name of the Lord of Hosts.

This name of God signified His absolute power; that He had control over all things, including the armies of heaven.

Christian, do you believe in your heart of hearts, that God has that kind of unlimited power over all things, including this current season of trouble you are passing through?

Hannah did, so she prayed BIG, so big, that she made a solemn vow to the Lord. With a spirit of humility, she asks God to give her a son. And she promised to give that son back to Him…

Not just as a Levite who would serve about 20-30 years.
Not just as a Nazarite, which was as long as someone made a vow.
But from the day he was weaned, she would take him to the tabernacle and he would live there, faithfully serving God… until he died.

I believe God had such a hold ofHannah’s heart, that she was asking God for something that was part of His plan for Israel. For God to have a faithful, godly leader to judge Israel. Allow me to explain:

Israel’s last judge, Samson, failed to keep his vow before the Lord. And it left Israel in a deep state of sin.
With her husband being a Levite and serving in the tabernacle, Hannah would have known that the High Priest Eli had no clue spiritually what was going on. And that his sons, Hophni and Phinehas were corrupt.

Hannah was offering her son for God to use to clean up the priesthood in Israel…  And that’s exactly what will happen.

Remember Hannah said that God closed her womb? Remember I said that God sometimes directs trouble our way so that His purposes could be established?

This was one of those times.

And perhaps, God has a plan for the trouble you are currently experiencing.

Christian, seek God’s face, trust His leading, yield to His plan.

God is still looking for people who will take their trouble to Him in prayer.
Then pray He would answer… according to HIS purpose, so that HE gets the praise.

To put it another way,

when we pray, even in times of trouble,
we should seek God’s best, not our own
because the purpose of prayer is to have God’s will be done, on the earth, as it is in heaven.

3. Hannah prayer misunderstood (vss 12-16)

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. ThereforeEli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

Hannah, poured her heart out to God in tear filled prayer.

I mean she must have really been sobbing wildly… so wildly that Eli saw her and thought she was drunk. So he confronted her.

Note the humble, graceful spirit in how Hannah responded to Eli’s false accusation.

She didn’t criticize or condemn him for his lack of spiritual discernment.
She didn’t retaliate by calling him names.

I think it was Hannah’s soft response that caused the light of truth to go on in Eli’s life as High Priest.

Perhaps it was the Holy Spirit who warmed Eli’s heart to act in a way consistent with God’s will.
I like to think it was both.

4. Hannah gets a promise (vss17-18)

17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to Him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

This is exactly what she wanted… desperately needed to hear from the High Priest.

That she could be at peace,because God had heard her prayer.
Hannah took Eli’s words;trusted God, and experienced peace.

Notice the first thing she did after she left the temple, she ate… just saying!!

I need to say that Calvary Café is a great time after worship on Sunday
and I want to personally thank Lynette & Kevin Fitzpatrick, Barb & Walt Reed, Izabela & Jay Jackson, Anne & Ron McCullough and John Downey
for all their hard work and faithfulness at keeping that vital ministry fun, delicious and spiritually nourishing!

Anyway… when youre praying in the will of God, He will give you peace, even in the midst of trouble.

It’s interesting that we don’t read of any further trouble between Hannah and Peninnah.

C. 1 Samuel 1:19-20  Real life answers

1. Hannah trusts God  (vs 19a-b)

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife,

I hope you find this as amazing as I do.

Prior to her prayer time with the Lord, Hannah was unable to find joy in worship because of the trouble in her family.
Now, the first thing she does the next day, is to return to God’s house to worship Him… this time from a peace filled, joyfulheart.

Christian, God hadn’t done anything for Hannah yet.. But she still worshipped Him. She still had peace and joy, while waiting for God to act.

Im reminded that even in the valley of the shadow of death…Thou art with me, Thyrod and Thy staff they comfort me.

Friends, God is worthy to be praised, even during seasons of despair. Even while we’re waiting for Him to act.

The text tells us that after the family went home, Hannah and Elkanah slept together…

Probably something that had been previously hard for both of them to do since it would not produce a son for Elkanah.

But Hannah trusted God, found the peace of God and believe that things would be different. And it was!

2. Hannah is blessed by God (vss19c-20)

and the Lord remembered her. 20 And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

Hannah got pregnant! And she had a son, she would name, Samuel.

And listen, Hannah kept her vow, her promise to God. Take the time to read the rest of 1 Samuel.

Samuel became one of Israel’s greatest prophets.

Conclusion: This sermon series while we are not able to worship together in our building, is focused on the prayers in the Bible and how they can help us have a more fruitful prayer life.

While there’s much we can learn about prayer from our text, there is one I want to leave you with:

Having a heart for God means

Placing His will above ours… no matter how against our own agenda it might be.

Having a heart for God means

A willingness to yield to God, to surrender to His will, to His purposes in our life.

Having a heart for God means

Telling God ‘Please don’t give me what I ask for, if there’s something better You want for me.’

Friends, it’s only then that we can know peace and joy in the midst of troubling times.