Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. – 1 Samuel 1:13 (NKJV)
Nowadays, you need to be verbose in prayer for people to realize how much you are suffering. If you remain calm, not talking much about your afflictions, then either you have no problems or you are not suffering enough.
Especially with the latest motivational self-help books asking you to “speak your heart out, tell exactly how you feel, don’t let the emotions remain in your heart”, many Christians are taking this route. Yes, when we tell others aloud about our problems, we feel as if the burden has reduced. But, it is what we feel. In truth, nothing has changed. It is sad that more Christians seek a temporary relief for their problems, when the Prince of peace is waiting to give a permanent solution.
In today’s world, if you even have a headache, you need to post in Facebook; you need to send a tweet about how bad you are feeling; and of course, a photograph on Instagram is a must so that others understand your pain. Then you need to monitor to see how many likes and comments you get, and who gave the first like, and who took time to comment… It is really sad that a generation is wasting their life, instead of spending their time in prayer.
One of the verses about prayers in the Bible is written about Hannah. It says that despite all her sorrows, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Yet, later she tells Eli that she had poured out her heart before the Lord (v.15). Yes, we can pour our hearts before the Lord without our voices being heard.
This is what our Lord Jesus Christ taught us about prayer. If we read the Sermon of the Mount, in the segment where He deals with prayer, Jesus says to pray in secret so that our Father Who sees in secret will reward us (Matthew 6:6). May the Spirit of God help us to internalize our feelings and pour it out in secret to our loving Father, so that we may receive the rewards He has for us. Amen.
True positive should be based on the grace of the LORD and also on TRUE faith. Why just not faith? Why true faith? True faith has few indicators. Some of us born strong – not “Schwarzenegger” strong (Wow, I need to get an award for spelling that name without a mistake), but mentally strong. Often people who are mentally strong are taken to be strong in faith – unfortunately. True faith believes in the Word of God and has its foundation on the grace of the LORD. And, true faith does not boast on itself, but will give glory to the Author and Perfecter of our faith, our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us look at one person who was not strong minded, but was filled with faith and how her positive attitude brought her blessings from the LORD.
3. Hannah. Hannah was the mother of prophet Samuel. And she was married Elkanah who also had another wife, Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but not Hannah. As a result of that, Peninnah often made derogatory remarks about Hannah and the Bible says, Peninnah would keep insulting till Hannah finally broke down and started weeping. So, we can see that Hannah was not that strong minded.
Finally, Hannah goes to the LORD. With her soul filled with bitterness, she pours her heart to the LORD. And here comes the three lessons that every Christian should learn about prayer.
The first lesson is how to pray. The Bible tells that while pouring her heart out, her lips were moving, but there were no sounds as she was praying in her heart. While there is nothing wrong in praying aloud, crying out to God… the prayers that only our Heavenly Father could hear have more punch than the prayers that everyone can listen to. (Matthew 6:6)
Second, when she was praying, Eli, the high priest was watching her pray. Since only her lips were moving and no sound was coming out, he thought that she was drunk. So he admonishes her. Now, Hannah tells him that she was just pouring her heart out to the LORD about her problems. But note that, she did not tell Eli exactly what her problems were. Imagine this for a second… what would we have done there, in that situation? We would have explained everything – what our problem is, why we are there pouring our heart to the LORD… but Hannah does not talk about her problems in detail. Because people can give us a temporary relief. But the LORD can solve our problems in ways that we cannot even fathom.
Finally, the most important thing is, Hannah had faith.
How do we know that? Now, Eli, who just a second thought she was a drunkard and admonished her, tells her to go in peace as the God of Israel may grant her what she had asked him. Again, what would be our immediate reaction – when someone, especially a priest, does not know the difference between us praying and us being drunk, blesses us saying that our prayers are heard – would we trust those words? No way. But Hannah trusted the words of Eli, because he was the priest of the LORD Almighty and the Bible says,
Her face was not sad anymore. – 1 Sam. 1:18b (NIRV)
She came to the LORD’s presence with sadness in her heart. Now, she goes out with faith, because the anointed of the LORD has told her to go in peace and she was not sad anymore. She believed that her prayers were heard and that she would get a definite answer from the LORD and her faith showed on her face.
How about you? Do you have faith that your prayers are heard by the LORD? Do you believe that He would surely answer you favorably? If you believe so, if you really have faith in the LORD, then your face will not be sad anymore.
With this positive attitude, Hannah goes home and now, she gets a son – Samuel, a prophet who anoints Saul, the first king of Israel and also, David, the greatest king from whose royal line, Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Savior of all humankind was born.
But, there is a difference in the positive attitude of Hannah (which came from her true faith on the LORD) and Rachel (whose positive attitude is a result of positive reinforcement, saying the positive words again and again). When Hannah begot Samuel, she dedicated him to the LORD, while Rachel gets her son, she names him Joseph, so she could get another son.
See the end of these two women. Rachel gets what she wanted, she gets her son, but during delivery, she develops complications and dies right after getting what she wanted.
But when Hannah gave her only son to the LORD and magnifies God for answering her prayers (True faith: she does not claim that her son is the result of her faith, but honors the LORD), she is blessed and over the years, she had three more sons and two daughters.
What do you want today? How are you going to pursue your goals? Based on positive attitude, reinforcing positive words to yourself or are you going to have a positive attitude based on the faith on the never ending grace of our LORD? Both will take you to your goals. But with the former, that will be the end of it. But if you put your trust on the LORD and have faith in His eternal grace, dear friend, this is just the beginning. For the blessings of the LORD will make you rich and He shall add no sorrow unto it. Amen.
Romans 15:5-6 “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
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We hear a lot about having a positive attitude. How a positive attitude will help us in achieving our goals. Mind is everything. We become what we think. So think success. Think money. Think power. To be honest, I had tried all these. I tried those self-help books designed to make a millionaire, books meant to make me successful in everything I do, books that kept hammering that “I am born to win” and books that should have made me the most powerful leader in the world.
Positive attitude is good. But to have a positive attitude, we should have the right foundation. If the foundation is wrong, then our attitude will achieve things with unpleasant consequences.
For us, Christians, the positive attitude should be based on two things: 1. On the grace of our LORD that He explicated on the Cross when the LORD gave His only Son Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sins. 2. That our attitude should bring glory to God and we should honor Him in all the blessings we receive through our attitude.
There are three people who had a positive attitude in the Bible. One of them had suffered complications while the other two rejoiced by the outcomes of their attitude. We will look at the first person who suffered because of her positive attitude now.
1. Rachel. Her husband had 10 sons through his other wives, but Rachel did not have any sons. Finally the LORD listened to her prayers and she got a son for her husband when Jacob was 91 years old. And, Rachel rejoiced, but her joy was not about the LORD. There were only two things her mind was on.
“God has taken away my disgrace.” – Genesis 30:23 (NIV). While it is not wrong to declare what the LORD has done to us, we should remember something that John the Baptist proclaimed: “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” – John 3:30 (AMP) That should be the goal of all our proclamation. But Rachel was looking towards her than the LORD. We can see how Hannah praised (she also had the same problem that Rachel had) in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 and see how she magnified the LORD. Compared to Hannah, Rachel should have praised the LORD more because her disgrace was greater. But, she just says one line and moves on to the second thing.
“May the LORD add to me another son.” – Genesis 30:24 (NIV) This is what generally taught about positive attitude. If you want something, keep saying it repeatedly. Paint a mental image, keep it in your mind. Say it again and again. All these. And, probably Rachel was the first one to do and achieve that. The name she gives her son was ‘Joseph’ which literally means “May the LORD add another son”. Whenever she called the name of her son, she was trying this positive attitude teaching. Whenever someone called out the name of Joseph, they were saying that may the LORD add another son to Rachel. And it did work. She became pregnant again.
Rachel did not put the LORD first. She did not glorify Him as she should have. When the LORD finally removed her disgrace, she was more interested in adding another son. How many times we have done this?
We will be praying for something for a long time. Finally when the LORD answers, what do we do? Just one small “Thank You LORD” and then we start with the next prayer. We totally forgot how bad our situation was before. We don’t want to look back and thank the LORD for His wonderful grace. Because we want more. We need more. So, instead of stopping for a second and praising the LORD, we move on with our next prayer request, keep asking for it till we get the next one. But remember something.
Rachel did get her next son. But the Bible tells us very clearly about what happened. Rachel gave birth with great difficulty. She was in so much pain and the child birth had exhausted all her energy and she was dying as the son she wanted so much, the son she got because of her positive attitude was being born. And as she was dying, she names him “Ben-Oni”, which means “The son of my sorrows”.
Something that should have been a moment of tremendous joy had become a moment of sorrow. She was waiting for this moment, but when the moment came, her life ended in severe pain and misery.
Of course, I am not saying that the LORD is going to punish us with death and sorrow if we do not give Him the glory He deserves. If that is the case, I would have been dead loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong ago. The LORD we worship is the true living God, He loves us and He is full of grace and slow to anger.
What I am saying is when we have a positive attitude that is not based on the grace of God and that is not attuned to bring glory to God, then when we achieve our goals, there will be an extra baggage attached to our success – sorrow and pain. I had experienced it so many times. Because these blessings did not come from the LORD. It came from our own hard work and self-belief.
Put your trust in the LORD. Have a positive attitude because the LORD is our Eternal Rock. And, when He blesses you, you will be successful, wealthy, rich and prosperous and the LORD adds no sorrow or trouble unto it. Amen.
|Ecclesiastes 11:5“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”
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