Everyone loves the prayer of Jabez. Remember a few years ago when that verse took the Christian world by storm? Somewhat wrote a book on that prayer and suddenly Christians everywhere were praying the Prayer of Jabez. It became a mantra for some people.
There is nothing wrong with the prayer of Jabez – great prayer indeed – but I am wondering if the motives we had for praying it were altogether pure. My guess is they were not.
Remember those lines:
“Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!”
How many of us truly read that with the purest of motives.
I think a greater prayer for us may be the prayer of Hannah. Not that the prayer is better; it may just be easier to pray with better motives and more humility.
Now for Hannah: Hannah was the mother of Samuel, the prophet that would hold great influence with both King Saul and King David.
Hannah’s prayer came at a time of great need. She was barren and desperately wanted a child. In the culture and context of those days not having children was a cause for shame. For the women in those times, children were everything. The more children you had, the more your family and tribe grew thereby growing your own family’s protection and influence. Not having a children left you marked.
Hannah desperately wanted to have a child. So Hannah made her first contact the person most of us would have made our last: God.
That’s right. She went straight to the Lord. Not her Mother. Not her husband. Not her hairstylist. Not PEOPLE Magazine. Not even her pastor. No, Hannah went straight to the Lord. (Do we do that? Do we go straight to the Lord with our hurts, worries, frustrations and cares? Or do we seek counsel from the nearest and most sympathetic listener?)
And what a prayer this was. Much like the Lord’s Prayer, THIS should be the prayer we base our own prayers on. There is no possible way a person can prayer the prayer of Hanna without complete humility, almost to the point of abasement. Read these beautiful words:
“O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
Notice, three times she refers to herself as a servant! Three times! She understands her place in this interaction between herself and the Lord.
Something to ponder: If our prayers were recorded and read thousands of years later, would the reader be able to clearly pinpoint who the Lord was and who the servant was? I am guessing the answer would probably be a sad “No.” Tragically, many of our prayers place “ME” at the center. We are the Lord of our prayers and we make God our servant. “Lord bless this.” “Lord bless that.” “Lord give me this.” “Lord give me that.”
Yet, Hannah begins her prayer with an understanding of who God is and who she is in comparison. She is but a simple servant coming to her Master with a simple request.
And because of her humility and the motive in her request, the Lord gives Hannah the desire of her heart: Samuel. Even more, Samuel was then given two brothers and two sisters. How amazing is that?
I am thinking about this today: If we began to come before the Lord with noble requests with complete humility, placing Him as Lord and us as the servant, what would our prayers look like? Even more, would they be answered with more frequency?
Hannah certainly asked for something that she wanted. She requested the absolute desire of her heart. But her position was right (humble) and her motives were pure.
What a lesson for us today.