How do we have hope when our prayers go unanswered, our desires go unmet, and our circumstances do not change? How do you continue to pray when you feel forgotten, left out or unheard? Each of us has either been in, is currently enduring, or will soon face a season of waiting.
I remember my years of singleness when friend after friend got married, or the season of secondary infertility, or to pleas for a job change. Think about what you have waited for or what/who you are waiting on? Has it become an idol? Does your happiness depend on the outcome and answer to your prayers, desires, or circumstances?
Hannah in 1 Samuel is a wonderful example for us about how to wait with hope. She was married to a man who loved her, and yet was barren and longed for a child. Sadly, the other woman in the house had many children and provoked Hannah, making her barrenness much more apparent.
In 1 Samuel chapters 1 & 2, Hannah’s actions give us a framework to follow as we endure seasons of waiting or as we journey with others in their seasons of waiting.
- Pour out your heart to God
“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 your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life…” ~ 1 Samuel 1:11.
God longs for us to come to Him. He can handle our doubts, tears, and all our emotions. The Psalms are a wonderful place to run to when you are running low on hope.
- Remain faithful in prayer, not neglecting to praise God as you wait
“Our private and public prayers are our chief expressions of our relationship to God.” Andrew Murray
And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. 2 “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength….. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and he exalts. 8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9 “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail…The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed. ~ 1 Samuel 2:1-11
Hannah’s prayer is a wonderful example of what to pray when in the thick of waiting. It is a reminder that God sees His people and will not neglect to care for them. Often we become weary in the waiting and can no longer ask for what we desire. During those times, please reach out to others to pray on your behalf. Praying during our seasons of waiting turns our focus off of self and onto the Lord. One of the verses I cling to in seasons of waiting is from Psalm 62.
“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my HOPE is from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” ~ Psalm 62:5-6
- Be willing to honor God after His answer, holding the results loosely
“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to Him. Therefore, I have lent Him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.” ~ 1 Samuel 1:27-28
Obviously, Hannah’s prayers for children were answered. However, not all prayers or situations are answered how we desire. God either answers, “yes”, “no”, or “wait”. The answer “wait” is by far the toughest. That’s when we must trust in God’s sovereignty, turn to His word, and seek help from His people to endure the waiting.
May this prayer from Andrew Murray’s book titled “Waiting on God” encourage your heart today:
“Blessed Father, we humbly beseech You let none who wait on You be ashamed; no, not one. Some are weary, and the time of waiting appears long. And some are feeble and scarcely know how to wait. And some are so entangled in the effort of their prayers and their work, they think that they can find no time to wait continually. Father, teach us all how to wait! Teach us to think of each other, and pray for each other. Teach us to think of You, the God of all waiting ones. Father, let none that wait on You be ashamed! For Jesus’ sake. Amen.”
Spend a few moments in worship today: “O Come to the Altar” by Elevation Worship
Reference: Waiting on God by Andrew Murray. (1981) Whitaker House. (Newer versions available). Andrew Murray was a minister/missionary in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in South Africa.