When Mothers Pray….

by | May 29, 2023

I was raised by a praying mother. She taught me how to pray by simply watching her on her knees every day. Growing up, our family couldn’t afford any fancy vacations, nor did we have many toys but the godly lessons and legacy I was handed are beyond value. They are forever etched in my heart.  My mother taught me to go to God first for all my needs before I ever approached a human being. And I have grown to realize that the greatest gift a mother can give to her child is to model a life of prayer, share the testimony of an answered prayer and wrestle together in prayer for requests yet to be realized. Prayer is the ultimate expression of faith. Life can be challenging. Mothering especially is emotionally, spiritually, and physically hard work.  At the end of the day, we feel drained out…Gosh!…Sometimes even by the end of breakfast!  When we believe God for who He says He is and trust Him for what He says He will do, prayer becomes a natural expression of faith. It is the dynamic that gives us the ability to move mountains in the spirit.

If we trace the greatest men of God throughout recent history back to their beginnings, we will surely find ourselves in a closet or by a bedside, where a mom kneels to pray. When you look at St. Augustine, you will find his mother, Monica. Behind Spurgeon, and you will find Eliza. Look at John Wesley and Charles Wesley, you will find Suzanna on her knees by their bedside. Look behind Hudson Taylor, you will find Amelia. A glance at each of these mothers, you will find earnest, consistent and fervent prayer.

The stories of God’s deliverance in history often lead us to a home or a secret place where a woman, hidden and behind the scenes, strokes a heel that will one day crush the head of the serpent.  The Hand That Rocks the Cradle Is the Hand That Rules the World is a poem by William Ross Wallace that praises motherhood as the distinguished force for change in the world.In the prayers of a mother, awakenings are born and people delivered, demons undone, prodigals rescued and dead brought to life. Allister Roberts says, “The dawn of the great new movements of God repeatedly occurs in women’s spaces.”  Throughout the Bible and its redemptive history we see a faithful mother birthing a son: Sarah and Isaac, Rebekah and Jacob, Rachel and Joseph, Jocobed and Moses, Ruth and Obed, Hagar and Ishmael, Hannah and Samuel, Elizabeth and John, Eunice and Timothy, Mary and Jesus and the list goes on.

All these stories portray women who persevered through a provocation and processed it in prayer. When we read the books of 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel they tell us the history of how God turned Israel into a kingdom. Guess where this story of a king and a kingdom begins? With one barren woman, Hannah, praying for a son.

 There will be circumstances and situations, stagnant & barren conditions we will encounter that will make us realize that no human on earth has the capacity to help or rescue other than God. Hannah found herself in one such situation. Her infertility caused her to feel intimidated and provoked by Peninnah.

 

Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. 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.

1Samuel 1:6-7

Her rival provoked her until she wept! Peninnah couldn’t resist pointing her finger at Hannah’s empty womb. Have you ever been irritated and provoked to the point of tears? Provocations can come in many ways. They can come from people around you, including your own family- their habits, lifestyle or choices can be cause for anguish. It could be a financial woe or your health or the health of your child can be a reason for provocation. Apostle Paul had a continuous provocation in his flesh, it pricked him like a thorn. He even called it an agent of Satan. But what did God say to him? He said my grace is sufficient for you. God works on a timeline very different from ours. You see God was looking for a prophet. The nation of Israel was going through a difficult time. The sons of Eli, Hopni and Phinehas who were serving as priests were worthless men who despised the commands of the Lord and used their power and position to serve themselves. God was looking for a mother who is willing to give Him a son to be raised as a prophet. He was waiting for a mother who is ready to make that sacrifice and is eager to give something valuable to His service. God found Hannah and he prepared her for that purpose. Here are 3 lessons we could learn from this powerful praying woman who gave to Israel its last judge and the first prophet:

  1.       She took her pain and processed it in the presence of God. 

Hannah knew to process her pain and provocation in the right place. A lot of times instead of taking our pain and problems to God, we take it to people who really can’t help.  Someone said “Don’t tell your problems to people – 80 % don’t care; and the other 20% are glad you have them!” God had a reason for closing up Hannah’s womb. That barrenness experience allowed God to prepare Hannah’s heart. God molded Hannah for sacrifice and surrender through the anguish. God might be preparing you for something exceptional in this season of provocation and pain. When He chooses someone for a special purpose He will skillfully mold and prepare us. Not to hurt or harm us. His plans are perfect and good and beyond our comprehension. Like the praying mothers of history, we are called to persevere in this provocation and process it in the presence of God.

Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”

1Samuel 1:9-11

  1.       She did not retaliate in her anguish. 

There is not a single verse in the Bible that mentions any dialogue between Hannah and Peninnah. Hannah didn’t go toe to toe with her. She didn’t retaliate. Whenever they went to Shiloh, Peninnah would provoke her bitterly until Hannah wept and wouldn’t eat. Sometimes we can find ourselves in a fight we never picked or in a provocation we never invited. We can tell Hannah was so tired with Peninnah’s boastful provocation. 

“Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the Lord is a God who knows, and by Him deeds are weighed”.

1Samuel 2:3

We do not know what Hannah’s prayer life looked like before the infertility but in her anguish she chose to do the right thing. Provocations can make us bitter or better. Either way the choice is ours. But when we choose to pray in our anguish and sorrow, God longs to answer those prayers.

  1.        Hannah didn’t react she responded.

 As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk  and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.  Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”

1Samuel 1:12-16

Reacting and responding can be used synonymously but there’s a huge difference between the two. When Hannah was misunderstood and misjudged by Eli, the high priest, who is the mediator between God and man, to be a drunkard and wicked woman, she didn’t react. She calmly responded. It’s easy to react when we are in anguish and pain, especially when we are provoked and irritated. But she responded with respect. She said “No, my Lord!!” The strength of our character is revealed in how we react. Our reaction to the situation literally has the power to change the situation itself. Isn’t the verse in Proverbs 15:1 so true ?

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

A reaction is instantaneous. It’s driven by a trigger and bias in the mind. When we say or do something “without thinking,” that’s the subconscious mind running the show. It is based in the moment and doesn’t take into consideration long term effects of what we do or say. A reaction is something you may regret later.

 “ Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.”

Chuck Swindoll

Hannah left a great example on how to process our pain in God’s presence without retaliating or reacting. 

Hannah had simply prayed for a son, a son to remove her shame of infertility — but in return, God answered far greater than what she asked. He gave Israel its first prophet who anointed kings.

God is still in the business of answering beyond what we can imagine. Eliza Spurgeon and Amelia Taylor prayed for salvation for their sons. They never imagined that God would give a preacher to the masses and a missionary to the nations. Not every son or daughter is a Prophet, or a preacher, or a missionary, but who knows what pastors of churches, or seekers of justice, or brave young men and women God is right now raising up to stand in the gap through a faithful mother on her knees? With our great God, we can dare to dream — and pray and model it for our kids.

Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the LORD and he answered them. 

Psalms 99:6

Hannah called on God and Samuel caught it from her.

When life gets difficult, what do you choose to do? Hannah looked to God for guidance. Listen to the Spotify podcast below to discover how to find happiness even in the midst of trouble. He is always a refuge. Give your burdens to Him and find the “peace that passes all understanding”.

 

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