How can the world be changed? With prayer.
Hannah had an unbearable problem. In 1 Samuel 1, we learn that she could not have children. A tragedy, certainly. What made this even worse as that Hannah lived in a society where a women’s worth was created by her ability to bear and raise children. She was barren and therefore had little worth in anyone’s eyes, including her own (With the exception of her loving husband, Elkanah). Her situation darkened her very life and not even a loving husband could make the rain stop.
What could Hannah do about this? There was an appalling lack of fertility clinics in her village, but the fact that she lived 3,000 years ago may have had something to do with that. No doubt supposed remedies for her situation were offered, but theses would have been scams or superstitions. There was nothing she could do. Nothing, that is, except pray. And so she did. You see, Hannah had an even more powerful ally than her husband. She had the Lord. In response to her prayers, God intervened and Samuel was born.
But I will contend Hannah and Elkanah were not the only people praying for this child. Other people had been praying for Samuel also. They just didn’t know it.
In Israel’s history, Samuel was born at the end of the time of the judges, but before the time of the kings. He was a bridge between the two, the last of the judges and the man God would use to anoint the first kings. Examine the book of Judges and you will find this phrase repeated, “and everyone did what was right in their own eyes”(17:6, 18:1, 19:1, 21:25). During this age, people ignored God and did what they wanted to do. No doubt, during this time there also existed a faithful remnant who fervently prayed for their people to return to the Lord.
What could they do about their culture’s sin? Pray, of course.
Samuel was God’s answer to that prayer. This man of God who would lead his people back to Lord for a time. He was the answer to Hannah’s prayers but also many others as well. When there is no solution, we are to pray. Of course, we are to pray anyway but when there is no solution it is easier for us to realize that we must pray.
In Luke 18, Jesus gives us a parable about a woman who demanded justice from a corrupt judge. The judge, being a baddie, was not inclined to give it, and yet because of the women’s nagging persistence he finally did. If an unrighteous judge would give justice, how much more so would a just one, like God? Luke tells us in an aside, that we are to keep praying and never give up just like the widow. Just like Hannah.
We also live in a time and a culture where “everyone does what is right in their own eyes.” What can we do about this? There are many godly things we can do, but I’m afraid we often overlook the obvious. We can pray. I am distressed by the reports of gun violence and active shooter events that appear with unholy regularity in our society. Each side of the political aisle trumpets their own solution, yet they are so entrenched they refuse to talk with the other side. This appears to be a problem without a viable solution. But God can solve it. I have determined that I will pray that the Lord will intervene and solve this life-and-death issue.
We can pray. But are we?