What do you do when you have prayed in His name (in His character John 14:14), but your prayers go unanswered? Yesterday we learned how to pray effectively, and how to pray in His name. But as we all know, even if you do everything right, it guarantees an answer but not always right away.
Someone who did everything right was Hannah, the mother of the prophet Samuel. The Bible says, in 1. Samuel, Hannah was the first wife of her husband, Elkanah. Hannah had been barren for the first ten years of their marriage, so Elkanah took a second wife Penninah to ensure the continuation of his lineage.
In Genesis, we read how Yehovah made marriage to be between 1 man and one woman. Later on, we read in the Torah how Yehovah permits and even gives regulations on how to live with multiple wives. This seems like an apparent contradiction until you understand the reason why polygamy was accepted in a Biblical tribal society.
When two tribes made a pact, the tribal leader would give his daughter in marriage to the other tribal leader. The marriage formed a political alliance between the two tribes. By the middle ages, polygamy was not practiced anymore, but the custom of forming a political alliance out of a marriage was quite common. King Edward, the second, married the daughter of the French King because of a political alliance between England and France.
The Torah also says a man who has died childless is cut off from his people. So if a woman was unable to conceive, the man was permitted to take a second wife to ensure his linage would continue. The practice of polygamy between nontribal leaders was quite common in those days to ensure the continuation of the family name.
So this is why Elkanah married Penninah, to ensure the continuation of his lineage. Why did Yehovah close up Hannahs womb?
Hannah is described as a righteous woman; she obeyed the Torah’s commandments to go to the temple in Jerusalem on pilgrimages, so she did everything right. But doing everything right did not open her womb.
1. Samuel says the priests in those days were Eli and his two sons Hophni and Phineas. The Bible says Hophni and Phineas abused their positions as high priests, and Eli, their father, did nothing to stop them even though he knew it was wrong. This is not unlike many pastors today who know that what they do, preach and teach is wrong, but they do it anyway. And Eli is not unlike many pastors who dont participate in their sins, but they dont intervene and try to stop them.
Sin always brings with it consequences, even if it is unintentional sins. A critical principle in the Bible is that even though we dont sin ourselves, we can end up sharing in the guilt and the consequences of other people’s sins.
Hophni and Phineas lived in great sin, and they were very open about it. The Bible says they stole from the sacrifices; they had sex in the temple with women, and Eli, their father, knew this was going on but never tried to stop them. Eli did not commit any of these sins himself, but he shared in the guilt and the consequences of their sins, so in the end, Yehovah rejected him and his two sons.
Hannah must have known what was going on in the temple, but even so, she chose to sacrifice to Yehovah in the temple. She did the right thing by obeying the Torah’s commandments to pray in the temple and sacrifice in the temple, but she shared in the guilt and the consequences of the sins of Hophni and Phineas.
So what should she have done?
She could not have stopped going to the temple because that would be a deliberate sin on her behalf. But because she shared in the guilt of Hophni and Phineas, her womb was closed.
In 1.Samuel 1:10-18 Hannah asked Yehovah for mercy and a son, by promising to continue to do the right thing. Because of her repentance, Yehovah opened her womb, and Samuel was born nine months later.
But take notice of what happened after she had prayed in His name.
She did not supernaturally conceive there and then in the temple. She prayed, she believed Yehovah had heard her prayer, and she had the integrity to act on her faith (1.Samuel 1:18.) She was no longer depressed; she was no longer downcast; she lived from that moment on, as if Samuel was already born. She had prayed in His name, and she had believed she had received it before she received it (Mark 11:24.)
She did not remain passive; 1.Samuel 1:19 says she acted on her faith and had sex with her husband convinced this time she would conceive. And then the text says, in 1.Samuel 1:19-20, Yehovah had heard her prayer, and she did conceive and gave birth to a son.
What can we learn from Hannah?
Even though we might not see the answer to our prayers right away, we must never stop praying in His name (John 14:14.) So no matter what happens, or dont happen, we must stay obedient to the Torah. When we have prayed, we must repent of all collective guilt. The guilt we have acquired by being citizens in a sinful nation that does not respect Yehovah, the sin we have acquired throughout the day living in an immoral society believing Yehovah hears and forgives. (1. John 1:9.) Then we must believe we have received before we receive it (Mark 11:24) and have the integrity to act on what we believe. We must never stay passive if there is something we can do; we should do it, remembering Hannah.
Hannah did what she needed to do; she went home and had sex with her husband, believing that this time she would conceive.
I dont know what you have been praying for and what you are hoping for. But I do know this, if you will learn from Hannah and repent, obey the Torah, believe Yehovah have heard your prayer, do what you need to do, your prayer will be answered even if you have to wait nine months.
So do not give up; the answer to your prayer is on the way.
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