God answers prayers. Yet there are some that still don't believe, some who don't pray because, they claim to not have had prayers answered. Hannah teaches us how to make prayer effective. 1 Samuel chapter one introduces us to Hannah--an Israelite woman who is unable to have children. She shares her husband Elkanah with another woman--Peninnah, who can have children. She is grieved much because of this and the way she is treated by Peninnah. She turns to prayer. She vows a vow with the Lord that if He will bless her with a child then she will dedicate that son to God. She poured out her soul in prayer. She didn't just pick up the phone and ask for "a large pepporoni, hold the anchioves and it better be here in 20 minutes" type of prayer. Hannah continued praying after her request. And she was true to her word--when a son came she "lent him to the Lord."
Can we make deals with God? It seems like Hannah did, and it worked. I went up to a pair studying these verses in class today to pose this question to them. A big, burly football player that let me know on the first day that he "won't be coming much" and needed to find "someone to goof off with," leaned over, and said, "Yeah!" I quickly refocused. "What do you mean?" "Well, once I made a deal with God," he said. He then briefly recounted the event and I asked him if he'd share it with the class. He said he would. We wrapped up the activity and started discussing this point as a whole class. I explained that Hannah was able to make a "deal" because this was a commandment that God had given, to multiply and replenish the Earth. I then asked this student to share his experience. He spoke, trying to be bold although it was hard for him to say, "I used to chew." He paused, then explained how everywhere he went he was "chewing." Then, he found out that he had cancer. He was scared. "I didn't want to lose my jaw, so I prayed. I was crying and I prayed that if God would take my cancer away, then I would quit chewing forever...It's been five months now, and the cancer is all gone, and I'm never chewing again."
God does answer our prayers, I hope we take time to notice the little things he does, and the miracles that happen all around us.
After class as students were walking out and shaking my hand, a young woman who generally comes in late, talks to other students frequently and hasn't seem largely interested in seminary said, "That was great lesson!" Today was a good day....for more than just Bro. Carter.