“Be persistent in prayer, and keep alert as you pray, giving thanks to God” - Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
The story of Hannah and the birth of her long overdue son, Samuel, who would go on to grow into a great prophet, is also a story of a woman who persisted with a conviction buried in her heart. We also see in her someone who never gave up on a promise, even as the years went by.
The story unfolds when we find that as 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” (I Samuel 1:6-7). Under these circumstances, she might easily have given up.
But Hannah persisted. She even went on to make “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” (vv 11). Her persistence would finally yield results, when the priest Eli who initially thought she was high on alcohol, blessed her. Finally, one day, looking at her distraught state, “Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him” (vv 17).
Now, a common fact of life is that many people once they receive a gift once craved for, they move on, sometimes not only forgetting to thank who gave them but even the promises once made in their agony. Out of ten lepers Jesus healed, only one returned to think him. “Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17-18).
But Hannah is different. She went on, not only to thank the Lord, but indeed fulfill her promise she had made of dedicating the son she had longed for to the work of the Lord. Sometime later, having given birth, she caught up with Eli, and startled him, by saying, “Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord” (vv 26- 28).
From Hannah we see the importance of persisting with our prayer requests, against the odds. But also more, not just being thankful, but carrying on with the promises the Lord did put on our hearts, while passing through the tunnel.
Prayer for today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I rise to thank you for all that you have done in my life, but also pray that I remain faithful to the promises you have put in my heart, this I pray in Jesus’s name.
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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful” – ( 2 Timothy 4:7).
Fighting may be looked at as a non-desirable way of life, especially by those who are pacifists. In fact, throughout Christian history there are many who have literally taken Jesus’s admonition of “turn the other cheek” in Mathew 5:39, to mean nonresistance in the face of attack. The fact that Jesus rebuked the Apostle Peter for drawing a sword against his captors ( Mathew 26:52), means giving in to those who attack them, as a sign of humility.
Yes, of course there are moments where Christians must practice that humility and give in to those who attack them well remembering His word, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord” ( Romans 12:19). However, that said, Believers in Christ would be mistaken to imagine that they must not fight for their faith, whenever under attack. For in reality, the faith of believers is under constant attack from Satan, who comes to “kill and destroy” ( John 10:1).
Faced with this, Paul went at great length to advise Christians to “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” ( Ephesians 6:11). To ward of constant attacks by the enemy Paul challenged us to “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” ( vv 14-17).
Paul is telling us that if you think that ours is a walk over faith where you are not going to fight back against the attacks of the enemy you are very mistaken. Fight we must, and hold our ground. The devil respects that! And when all is done, we can then gladly say, “we have fought the good fight, finished the race” and thank God Almighty we are free at last!
Prayer today: Lord Father God of Abraham, maker of heaven and earth, today I rise ready to resist the attacks of the enemy, by wearing the full of armor of God, and with the sword of the Spirit, fight back to victory, this I pray in Jesus’ name!