1 Samuel 1 … Consider Him Who Provokes Our Prayers

for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” [1:16]

Provoke: to stir up, arouse, or call forth (feelings, desires, or activity); to incite or stimulate (a person) to activity; to give rise to, induce or bring about

Hannah, a woman who feared and loved the Lord, and yet her womb was closed. Not only closed, but closed by the Lord. She lived oppressed, in the shadow of another triumphantly enjoying what she so desperately desired. Every bit of her daily existence was overshadowed by her emptiness. She found no pleasure or fulfillment in God’s gifts of shelter and nourishment through her devoted and loving husband.

Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”… I am a woman oppressed in spirit; [1:8, 15]

But still she prayed. Still she sought the LORD, pouring out her heart to Him year after year. Her hopeless and humiliating condition, brought upon by the LORD Who had closed her womb, provoked her prayers.

…but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord[1:5-7]

I can’t help but wonder… what if Hannah had been given her deepest desire from the very beginning?

Had the LORD not closed her womb and so orchestrated the prolonged and bitter events, would Hannah have sought Him in such abject humility as she poured out her soul?

..but the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival, however, would provoke her bitterly to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. It happened year after year, as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she would provoke her; so she wept and would not eat. [1:5-7]

Had the LORD not allowed Hannah to linger long in such misery, would Hannah have given her son to the LORD, while he was still so young, forever? [1:22]

But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “I will not go up until the child is weaned; then I will bring him, that he may appear before the Lord and stay there forever.”[1:22]

Consider Him Who Provokes Our Prayers

  • He Who Provokes Our Prayers moves in the hearts and wills of His children to accomplish His purpose
    • She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” [1:11]
  • He Who Provokes Our Prayers is sovereign and faithful to grow His children in faith, humility and surrender.
    • Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with a three-year-old bull and one ephah of flour and a jug of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh, although the child was young. [1:24]

How do we respond to Him Who Provokes Our Prayers?

Psalm 37:4 is a verse most of us have heard often and probably love to both quote and claim.

Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
[Psalm 37:4]

We like the sound of receiving the desires of our hearts. But could it be…

Could it be this verse has more to do with implanting His desires in us than fulfilling our wish list? Could it be this verse has more to do with aligning our own desires with His very own? And just maybe one of His most effective ways of aligning our hearts with His is through affliction and distress.

And isn’t the greatest desire He could possibly fulfill is that we somehow be used for His greater good and for His glory?

As we go to Him, and yes sometimes year after year, He shapes our desires and Provokes Our Prayers until it becomes all about Him and not at all about us.

Because of the years of Hannah’s humiliation and suffering, what she had so desperately desired for herself became a desire to offer to the Lord. As a result of her hardships, Hannah gave her firstborn son, Samuel, back to God, and He accomplished much through his life.

But before He raised up the prophet Samuel, He set aside one woman through humbling and lonely hardship to Provoke Her Prayers; through one woman who had been Provoked to Prayer the LORD provided the righteous prophet, Samuel to lead the nation.

“Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” [1:17]

We would do well to consider and put into practice the verses preceding and following Psalm 37:4

Trust in the Lord and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
[Psalm 37:3-5]

  • May we trust Him Who Provokes Our Prayers, intentionally cultivating a life of bearing fruit in faith as we wait on Him to grant our petition.
    • Trust in the Lord and do good;
      Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
      [Psalm 37:3]
    • If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. [John 15:8]
  • May we learn the secret of contentment in Him Who Provokes Our Prayers as we wait on Him to grant our petition.
    • Delight yourself in the Lord;
      And He will give you the desires of your heart.
      [Psalm 37:4]
    • …for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. 12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. 13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. [Philippians 4:11-13]
  • May we grow in our commitment and faith in Him Who Provokes Our Prayers as we wait on Him to grant our petition.
    • Commit your way to the Lord,
      Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
      [Psalm 37:5]
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart
      And do not lean on your own understanding.
      In all your ways acknowledge Him,
      And He will make your paths straight.
      [Proverbs 3:5-6]

Let’s Grow Together!

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