Michael Youssef - Life-Changing Prayers - Part 6
We've been talking about the biblical paradoxes have run counter to media and culture at large in our society. This cultural sweep runs contrary to so many of the biblical principles, and today we're gonna see another one of those points of tension, namely, instant gratification versus persistence, instant results versus the long view of things, beating down the doors open versus patiently waiting for the Lord's timing. While our culture says, "Live for the moment," the Bible says, "Remember eternity. It is a long time". Everything in our culture said, "Get it faster and get it now".
God said, "Persist in prayer". Why? Because not persisting in prayer causes many to lose their spiritual battle. Not persisting in prayer can lead to a defeated life. Not persisting in prayer can lead to a discouraged life. And the Bible is filled with examples of God honoring those who persist in prayer. How many times the Lord Jesus tells us parable after parable, story after story, about those who had never let up in prayer, never give up in prayer? And that's why the Apostle Paul actually described victorious Christian life in a very similar imagery to the Ephesians when he said that "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but it's against principalities and powers and authority," and we have to fight until we get home to glory, amen.
Now, I can testify to you, and I know many of you can too, that there is no place where persistence is more rewarding than on the knees of prayer. There are no battlefields where victory is more certain than when we persist in prayer. There, no campaign where you're assured of ultimate victory than the prayer closet. We saw in the last message how this wonderful, gracious woman Hannah won her victory on the knees of prayer. For those of you visiting with us, this is the second go-around, talking about Hannah, and if you weren't here, get the CD and follow with the whole story.
Today I want you to look closely, 1 Samuel chapter 2. There are five things here that immediately you see in this woman's life, and they all begin with "S" to help you remember them, okay? It's "surrender," "sorrow," "supplication," "song," and "sacrifice". First, Hannah. When she prayed, she prayed the prayer of surrender, total surrender, complete surrender, not partial, not qualified surrender. She handed ownership of her life totally to the Lord. She handed the deeds of her life over to the Lord in complete surrender. I think you have to agree that most of us, when we talk about "surrender," we're talking about surrender some things to God, right? Just certain areas where we need help, but not every area. We kind of do partial surrender stuff.
When we surrender our business, we want to surrender those parts in the business that are not doing very well so that God can fix 'em and turn 'em around, right? That's what we do. When we surrender our families, we want the Lord to take over the problem child. We'll take care of the good ones, you know? When we surrender our finances, we want to give the Lord the losing part of our portfolio. Most people, when they come under financial stress, they begin cutting their budget. You know what the first thing goes? The tithe and the offerings. They're like killing the goose that lays the golden egg. It's amazing to me how we cut the very thing, the very source of supply for all of life.
But when Hannah surrendered, she gave the Lord the best that she has, the best thing that she has, not the leftover. When she surrendered, she surrendered the most important thing in her life, not the crumbs. When she surrendered, she gave herself first, and then what treasured the most. She gave back to the Lord the very thing that she prayed for, the very thing. And so, first, there was a surrender. Second, there's a sorrow. You see, Hannah's surrender to the Lord did not spare her the sorrow and the pain, the sorrow and the pain that came from Peninnah's taunting and mocking and ridiculing her. She lived with constant cruelty. She lived with perpetual taunting. She lived with fretting over her predicament.
In fact, in 1 Samuel chapter 1, verse 15, listen to what she called herself. She called herself a, "woman of sorrowful spirit". Some of you sitting here today may be putting on the church mask, but you have a sorrowful spirit. I wanna minister to you this morning through the Word of God because Hannah, even in the midst of her sorrow, she trusted the Lord. Even when her womb was shut, her heart was open to the Lord. Even where her anguish was unbearable, she learned to lean on God. Some of you here may feel that your rivers are running dry. I want you to remember that God's oceans are not, amen? Some of you may feel that your star is hidden from view. They're not hidden from his view. Some of you young moms may feel that you are knee in diapers and that you'll never get over this, and you're feelings, your self-worth is so low.
Remember, you are worth more than rubies and sapphire to the one who matters the most. Some of you may feel that you've experienced financial losses. I want to remind you this morning of what you have. You have possessions that are not fading. You have promises of God that are and will be fulfilled. You have power that cannot be defeated. You have a protector who's unchanging. You have a provider who is limitless. Hannah's surrender and Hannah's sorrow, which led to Hannah's supplication. Those are connected. These are not just nice words all begin with "S" so you could remember them. They really are, they're all connected. You see, her sorrowful heart did not make of her a bitter person. Be very careful with bitterness. So the Bible talks about bitterness as the root of bitterness. Some of you heard me teach on this before because it's very important.
You see, he didn't say the, "fruit of bitterness" because the fruit is on top of the tree, and you can see it. The reason bitterness is very dangerous is because it's a root. It's deep down. It's not easily seen. It's not easily viewed, and it builds up, and it builds up, and it builds up, and if you don't surrender to the Lord moment by moment, day by day, you'll wake up one day feeling to be a bitter person, and may the Lord deliver us from bitterness. This woman, Hannah, this gracious woman, have been emotionally hurt, but her soul was healed. She have been emotionally battered, but her commitment to the Lord was unshakable. She may have been physically exhausted, but spiritually she was powerful. She may have had every reason to give up, but she persisted in prayer.
You see, surrender and supplications are connected with each other. Well, let me ask you, "What is she praying for? What was her petition"? I know most of you are gonna say, "Had to have a son". It's really more than that. Her prayer was far more than that. Listen carefully. She was praying for God to intervene with the laws of nature. As society, and many people in our society unite together, groups like the atheists and the humanistics and the Muslims and the militants, and all these groups unite on being belligerent against the name of Jesus. The more we see the name of Jesus under attack, which I personally don't think that's a bad thing, to be quite honest.
I'm telling you, read my blog. I think it's wonderful. It's gonna wake up the practical atheists who are sitting in the pews. It's gonna purify the church of Jesus Christ, and there's gonna be a time whether we're gonna put up or shut up. But I'm also convinced that, as the name of Jesus and God's children come under attack, we're gonna see the supernatural power of God working in the faithful believers like we have never seen in our lifetimes, amen, amen. God says, "Okay, you wanna live by sight like the rest of the people of the world? That's fine. Go for it. You won't see my hand working. You won't see supernatural intervention". And that's not what we want, amen.
And Hannah, in her case, because of her surrender that her chain of sorrow were torn asunder by her supplication, and those chains were replaced by a joyful song, which bring me to the fourth thing you see here, "song". Look at it in 1 Samuel chapter 2, verses 1 to 10. It's an incredible, magnificent song. Hannah immediately began to sing praises to the Lord. That is her song, but there's something else here I don't want you to miss. Don't miss this, okay? Because most of us praise God for something. We praise him for salvation, we praise him for his blessings, we praise him for his kindness, we praise him when he answers prayer, we praise him for this, and we praise him for the other thing. There are very few people who know how to praise God for his holiness.
See, everybody can sing. That's not... but she was praising him. It takes a surrendered person to praise God for his holiness. It takes standing on a higher spiritual plane to praise God for his holiness, and Hannah said, "There is no Rock like the Lord. There is no one holy like the Lord". What does it mean? It means that in him, there is all of her security. Her security was not in money. It was not in friends. It was not even in a caring husband. Her security was in the one whose stability is unshakable, whose comfort is incomparable, whose power is unconquerable, whose love is unchangeable, whose compassion is inexhaustible, whose shield is impenetrable, and whose peace is unexplainable. In verse 1, she said, "My horn is exalted in the Lord".
First, let me tell you what she's not saying. She's not saying that, "I am full of pride". Why am I saying this? Because "horns" in the Bible can mean "pride," can mean "power," and it's an imagery that the Bible uses that comes from the ox. You know, the ox's power and pride is in his horn, and Hannah is saying that, "All of my strength is in the Lord, not in my success. All of my power, all of my joy comes from the Lord himself, not even from the fact that he answered my prayers". Beloved, listen to me: God will always give a song of praise to a surrendered life of supplication. He really will. As you're waiting upon the Lord, he's gonna give you a song. He will always give you a song. To your heart and to your lips, he'll give you a song when you're sold out to Jesus in prayer.
Let me tell you about God's song. God's song is a power to the powerless. God's song is a strength to the weak. God's song is a joy to the joyless. God's song is a healing to the soul. God's song is a victory to the defeated. God's song is a sacrifice unto the Lord. And that is why the Bible speaks about the sacrifice of praise. That's the fifth thing that I wanna talk about here in this wonderful woman's prayer. First, we saw "surrender," "sorrow," "supplication," "song," "sacrifice". In the last message, I shared with you briefly how Hannah made a vow to the Lord. "Lord, if you answer my prayer and you give me a son, I will dedicate him to you". In 1 Samuel chapter 2, we see her keeping her vow. She kept her promise totally, completely, without hesitation, without qualifications, without explanations.
I want you to listen very carefully, please, because this is important because, more than anything in the world, what did Hannah want the Lord to give her? A son, right? And when God gave her that son, she gave him right back to the Lord, just like she promised. I want you to ask yourself a question, actually, two questions. The second one depend on how you answer the first, okay? And this is between you and God in the privacy of your heart when you're all alone with God. Ask yourself the first question: "What is the one thing, the overriding thing, the overarching thing that I'm petitioning the Lord for, that I'm crying to the Lord"? What's the one thing? You answer that to yourself, not to anybody else.
And then, depending on what it is, ask yourself a second question: "If the Lord answers my prayers and gives me exactly what I've been praying for, would I be willing to offer that very answer to prayer back to him? Would I be willing to do that"? God said to Abraham, "I'm gonna give you a son, son of promise". He tried to improve on the will of God and got Ishmael and got us all into trouble, but God said, "It's Isaac," and then, 17 years later, he said, "Okay, take Isaac, offer him to me". "Wait a minute. You gave him to me. He's supernaturally born from a 90-year-old woman. How come"? Hannah prayed all, "Give me a..." he gives her a son. She takes him to the temple. "He's all yours, Lord". Why? Does God need to take back what he already given you? Is God an Indian giver? No, beloved, listen, he doesn't... if he gave it to you, he can give you a whole lot more. It doesn't matter.
God has infinite resources. He doesn't want it. He wants to be sure that you are holding it with open palms, with open hands, not grabbing as, "This is mine, and I'm not gonna do this. No, this is mine. Nobody's gonna touch this". No, see, that's the thing about Hannah that makes her such a wonderful woman of God. She could've backtracked. She could say, "Well, I'm gonna wait until Samuel become a man. Then I'm gonna, you know, he can make up his mind, and he decide, and I'll give him to the Lord". Yeah, she did not backtrack on her promise. She did not redefine what "give" is, you know, the games we play in our heads: "Should we tithe before the taxes or after taxes? Should we really just give 10% or give offering on top? Should we really...how much..." and all those games we play in our heads. She did none of that.
Hannah did not try to use human gibberish like we try to. She did not try to rationalize it in her head, but, indeed, she could've said, "Oh, Lord, you know I need him to comfort me in my old age. Surely, Lord, I just need to do this first, and I need to do that second, and then I need to do that other thing and", no, she said, "I give him back to the Lord as a boy to minister in the temple". And look at what happened. Look at what happened. Samuel was not only such a great blessing to her, he was a blessing to millions of people. She dedicated that boy to the Lord at a very early age, and what a sacrifice, for this man, Samuel, changed history.
This man, Samuel, turned the people of God's heart, back to God. This man, Samuel, anointed the head of King David, who's the ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do I need to say more? But, listen, if this was the end of the story, that would've been incredible. That would've been fantastic. That would've been just wonderful. What an incredible, incredible answer to prayer. If that was the end of the story, it would've been wonderful, but there's more to come. There's more to come. God responded to Hannah's faithfulness and sacrifice by giving her a bunch more kids. She talks about seven. Obviously, he either gave her six more or seven more, but at least she got a whole bunch of them.
Listen carefully because this is important: When she kept her vow to the Lord and took Samuel to the temple, she did not anticipate the Lord is gonna give her any more children, and there's no evidence that she ever prayed for any more, but, see, that's how God works. This is the way he works. When he sees a glimpse of faithfulness, he blesses more and more. God longs to bless his children. He really does. He's longing to be a source of limitless supply of blessings for his children. She did not know she was gonna get all that, but that's how our God works. That's the way he responds to the sacrifice of praise.