Have you ever prayed about a heart’s desire which no one around you seemed to fully understand? When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I felt a prompt from the Holy Spirit to leave my career and become a stay at home mom. I was surrounded by people who I believe meant well, but lots of questions and concerns came my way when I asked them to cover this desire in prayer.
“You’re going to stop working??”
“What about all those years of college and graduate school? What a waste!”
“Can you really afford to live on one income?”
“Oh, I would go crazy staying at home all day!”
I don’t know about you, but that’s enough commentary to leave one discouraged, disheartened and well, defeated from believing that such a prayer could possibly be answered.
I think about Hannah in the book of 1st Samuel. She prayed for a son but we read her womb was closed. Hannah wept from great sorrow. Hannah was downhearted and deeply troubled. And those around her responded to her in ways that did not encourage her, to say the least. There’s Hannah’s husband Elkanah who loved her but her crying and brokenness led him to ask, “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (v. 8) Then, there’s Elkanah’s other wife Peninnah who took it upon herself to provoke Hannah and irritate her because she did have children. Finally, there’s the priest Eli who assumed Hannah was drunk when praying because her voice was not heard while her lips were moving in prayer.
Are you feeling as sad for Hannah as I am right now?
Although we do not read of Hannah responding to her husband or his other wife, we see that she responds to Eli with raw honesty and transparency: “I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief” (v. 16). Then, she received an answer that indicated she was finally understood: “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of Him” (v.17).
Listen, I get it. When someone shares a prayer request, our knee jerk reaction may be to share our opinions. However, when someone is asking for prayer for something laid on their heart by the Holy Spirit, what would it look like if our response is to come into agreement with them and believe for God’s will to be done? After all, our lives are in His hands, not in your’s or mine.
I’m thankful that Hannah was able to move forward in peace and see her prayer answered with a son Samuel, who just turned out to be one of the most influential prophets of Israel. And I’m grateful for those who prayed for my request as I did become a stay at home and it turned out I was prepared to provide full time care for my younger two children who were diagnosed with medical issues as infants.
There is power of agreement in prayer: “Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)