A young girl knelt beside her bed, folded her hands, and bowed her head, “Dear God, thank you for taking care of me and my family. Thank you for giving us food to eat, even when I don’t like it. Thank you for my teachers and classmates. Lord, I really want horse. If you can get my parents to buy me a horse, I’ll keep my room clean all year. I’ll be good in church. I’ll give money to church. Please, please, please, God. I promise I’ll never ask for anything ever again. Amen.”
Most of us have had the privilege of listening to a prayer or two like this. Usually we keep our head down and grin at the innocent prayer, remembering a time in our own life when our prayers were this simple.
I wonder, however, how many adults are still framing prayers as deals with God.
I wonder how many of us have struggled with an illness and begged God to save us from the illness. I wonder if we’ve promised to go wherever He wants us to go and do whatever He calls us to do in exchange for said healing.
I wonder how many of us have asked God to help us find a job or resolve financial issues. And if we’ve promised to honor Him with our finances in exchange for His help.
I wonder just how many of us have faced infertility and begged God for a child. I wonder what we promised in exchange for that baby.
More than any specific situation, I wonder how often those of us who attempt to make deals with God keep our end of the deal.
Sometimes we find ourselves in desperate situations. Like Hannah, the beloved wife of Elkanah, who was harassed by Elkanah’s other wife for not being able to have a child.
What do you think Hannah wanted more than anything in the world?
Yep, a baby.
Elkanah even told her that he should mean more to her than ten sons. It was his way of telling her he loved her whether she gave him sons or not. But Elkanah’s other wife had given him children, and she despised Hannah because Elkanah loved Hannah more. So she took every opportunity to call Hannah a failure as a wife because she couldn’t give Elkanah children.
Hannah let the opinions of others determine her self-worth.
But Hannah prayed to God that He would give her a son. Prayed without ceasing. She promised to give the son back to the Lord’s service. And one day she was praying silently in the temple when Eli, the priest, told her to quit drinking.
Hannah explained that she wasn’t drunk, but heartbroken and crying out to the Lord.
Eli was moved by her state and told her to go in peace that the Lord may grant her request.
Lo and behold, Hannah did become pregnant with a son, Samuel.
Hannah was very similar to the little girl I spoke of at the beginning. She made a request of God, and offered an exchange if God would grant her request.
“Give me a son, God. I’ll give him back to you.”
This is where I’m afraid some of us get stuck.
Sure, we might take time to praise God for answering our prayer. We might even share what He’s done with those who have crossed our paths. But do we follow through with giving our son away, or do we rationalize why God wouldn’t want us to do that?
Hannah sets a great example for us. She raises Samuel until he is weaned. Then she takes him to Eli and reminds him who she is. Her son remains with the priest to minister to before the Lord. Hannah comes to see him yearly.
Why would a woman spend so much time praying for a son just to hand him over to a priest at the young age of three?
Serving God, praising God, keeping our promise to God, sometimes looks like a sacrifice. Hannah got her son, but she promised to dedicate that same son to serving the Lord. She followed through with her end of the deal.
Did Hannah lose out? I don’t think that’s what Hannah would say. Check out the rest of her story in 1 Samuel chapter 2. Perhaps it will help us draw a conclusion if we read the story of her son Samuel too.
What are we willing to sacrifice to receive God’s blessing?
Should we make deals with God? I’ve struggled with that question personally for quite some time. Hannah did. She also set a good example for us by keeping her end of the deal.
When we make deals with God are we keeping our end of the deal? Does God expect us to keep our end of the deal?
What do you think?