When David looked up at the starry heavens, he marveled:
What is man that thou art mindful of him?
Mary quoted that psalm, echoing David’s amazement in her Magnificat.
My soul magnifies the Lord,
for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.
Her Magnificat also seems much inspired by Hannah’s prayer.
Hannah was taunted by her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, whom he married because Hannah was barren.
Hannah went to the temple to pour out her heart to God,
and she was so fervent the priest thought she was drunk.
Before she knew if God was going to answer her prayer for a child,
she went away and her face was no longer sad.
Hannah, David, and Mary all knew the character of God,
and you can see it in their prayers.
We can learn from them a lot about effectual prayer.
Let me tell you a story.
My daughter Annie told me she was going through a dry time and wanted a good book on prayer. I got both of us a book that had been highly recommended to me so that we could talk about it together over this Thanksgiving.
Two of my big take-a-ways have to do with approach and method.
Miller kept emphasizing that we approach God as “Abba,” as a Father who delights to bless His children, and trust Him, the way a weaned child leans against his mother’s breast. In other words, we pray knowing He wants to give, and we trust, knowing He will give us what is best. Hannah did this, praying specifically, knowing the heart of God, and she left changed before she knew if He would give what she asked for, for she was trusting, like a weaned child against her mother. The child is no longer crying frantically for the breast, for he has been weaned, and at peace. If God doesn’t give our request, because we know His character, we can trust.
Miller gets cards and on each card writes down 3-5 requests for a particular person. When that request is answered, he crosses it off. I’ve heard this method before, and even tried it and failed. But this time I seem to be doing better — perhaps it was all the illustrations Miller gave, or perhaps it was doing it together with my daughter Annie. I bought a pack of plain index cards for Annie and I to do this together, and she said, “Well, I was thinking the cards should be nicer.” She wanted to make some, but time was running out, so we ended up going to Hobby Lobby and getting an assorted pack of cards with designs on one side and blank on the other. We chose designs that we thought fit the individual, and then together wrote down specific requests for them. The special designs make it harder for me to lose them amidst all my papers. I’m glad Annie urged me to get nicer cards!
I have been praying though each of them daily. As you know, I have a control idol, and it grows back, especially when I have a child in trouble. But I have learned that prayer is more effective than trying to fix that child (or that child’s spouse) with advice. I cannot tell you details, but there is something I have so wanted to have happen for this child in trouble. So, I simply listed it on that prayer card and kept bringing it before the Lord. Just this week, that prayer was answered. My heart melted as I thought, “My soul magnifies the Lord, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant.”
1. What stands out to you from the above and why?
Last week our own Bev from Broken Bow wrote something that will be our “God Hunt” all week.
I love the Christmas Season and how Jesus shines through in spite of the World and all the trappings. He just simply cannot be hidden or shut out. If you have a watchful eye at all It seems to me that Jesus shows up in unassuming and humble places. Just like His first coming.
2. Was there a way Jesus “showed up” for you last week in His quiet way?
Monday: Hannah’s Life
3. Read 1 Samuel 1:1-8
A. What is Hannah’s situation?
B. Who closed Hannah’s womb? Why, do you think?
C. Do any verses become radioactive? If so, why?
4. Read 1 Samuel 1:9-20
A. Describe what happened between Hannah and Eli.
B. What do you think the phrase “and the Lord remembered her” means?
5. Read 1 Samuel 1:21-28 and share anything that becomes radioactive.
I melt whenever I read verse 27. I have been overwhelmed when each of my children were given to me, whether biological or adopted. Steve and I prayed so specifically for Sally — and like Miller says in his book, we’re afraid to be specific because “we don’t want to risk our prayer not being answered.” But oh, the amazement when a specific prayer is answered! We were young, trusting, and extravagant when we prayed for a girl with a heart for God, with talents she could use for Him, and I prayed she’d look like my husband, not knowing how much that would mean when we lost him. I always remember Steve’s cry when Sally was born: “God gave us a girl, and she looks just like me!” The doctor and the nurses laughed, but indeed, Sally is a clone of her father physically. I also have incredible answers to prayer with both of our adoptions. One time Annie said to me, “Why am I so much like you and Dad?” I know it is because God hand-picked her for us. I marvel at how mindful God is not only in giving us the biological children that we need or need us, but in placing the solitary in families. Even with children that may cause us grief, I know He is sovereign. I always remember Joseph’s comment concerning his five adopted children, one of whom is always in and out of jail: “God gave us exactly the children we needed or that needed us.”
Tuesday: Hannah’s Prayer
6. Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10
A. What do you think was in Hannah’s mind when she prays as she does in verses 1-5?
B. Brennan Manning called the gospel the “ragamuffin gospel.” How do you see Hannah saying the same in verses 6-10?
7. Was there a way God showed up for you in His quiet way in the last 2 days?
Wednesday-Thursday: Mary’s Magnificat
Prepare your heart with this:
8. How do you think Elizabeth’s prophetic prayer impacted Mary’s Magnificat?
9. Read Luke 1:46-55
A. What similarities do you see between Hannah’s prayer and Mary’s Magnificat?
B. What does Luke 1:50 mean to you?
This is a quote from Psalm 103, the psalm Steve and I memorized and often prayed in bed when he was sick. How he prayed Psalm 103:17 for his children and his children’s children, whom he would not see on earth, but who are the beneficiaries of their father and grandfather’s prayers. Here I am last Christmas with 8 of the 10 who were born after Steve’s death. The youngest is Steven, named after the grandfather who prayed so for him.
10. Mary obviously knew Scripture and incorporated it into her prayers. Why is this wise? Do you do this? If not, could you?
11. What stands out to you from the Magnificat and why?
12. John Stonestreet, whom I respect, says he has been troubled by the carol “Mary, Did You Know?” I found that interesting as I have liked that carol, but on pondering the Magnificat, I see some wisdom in his claim that Mary knew a whole lot more that we might think.) Would love thoughts!
13. Was there a way God showed up for you in His quiet way in the last two days?
Friday: Optional Keller Sermon: (Not free but excellent — on Hannah’s Prayer)
14. If you listened to the above, share your notes and comments.
15. What’s your take-a-way and why?