Sunday Sermon: ‘The Power of a Mother’s Prayer’

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First of all let me say ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ to all of our moms. I know that I value my mom so much and I’m sure that many of you do as well. Actually I would like to take a moment to tell all of our ladies how much we appreciate you. Throughout my life I have been blessed with many great ‘spiritual moms and sisters-in-Christ’ and I want you to know how important you are to us. God has always used godly women in a great way.

As I prayed over what I should preach today, the Lord laid upon my heart entitled, ‘The Power of a Mother’s Prayer.’ I hope that this message will be a great blessing to you of you ladies and that it will encourage you to keep on praying for us. I know that I would not be here today if not for my mother’s prayers. There was a time when I was not walking with the Lord, yet my mother never stopped praying for me. Through her prayers, the Lord helped me find my way back to Him. I would also like to say that I would not be here today if not for the prayers and support of my godly wife. I know that I’m kind of partial, but I believe you would have a hard time find a godlier pastor’s wife.

To find inspiration for the Power of Mother’s Prayer, I would like to us go to the book of 1 Samuel and study the story of Hannah.

1 Samuel 1:1 Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite: 2 And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3 And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, were there. 4 And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: 5 But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. 6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. 7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. 8 Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?

9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.

12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

The first thing I would like to call to your attention is the pain Hannah was experiencing in her life.

I. The Desperation of Hannah’ Prayer

Hannah was in extreme pain. Her pain was not an outward pain, but an inward pain.In verse 10 she described it as a ‘bitterness of the soul.’

10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

Why was Hannah in so much pain?

A. Hannah’s Pain and Sorrow

1. She desperately wanted to have a child

Even more so, she desperately wanted to give her husband, whom she loved very much, a son.

2. She had an enemy that was tormenting her

As if the pain of her barrenness wasn’t enough, Peninnah did all that she could to torment Hannah. No doubt Peninnah flaunted her children before Hannah.Can’t you see Peninnah saying before Hannah –

“Elkanah, aren’t you so proud of your children? Do you see your son, how handsome he is. I’m so glad that I was able to give you children.”  

Peninnah wasn’t Hannah’s only enemy. We read from the Bible –

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Behind every physical enemy is our spiritual enemy – the devil. No doubt Satan was doing all he could to torment Hannah and to make her life miserable.

B. Our Pain and Sorrow

Hannah is not the only one who experiences pain in the soul. Many of us do. Pain in our soul can occur for lot’s of reasons.

The Bible teaches us that that the Lord sometimes allows this pain in our soul. Why? I believe that the Lord allows pain in order to bring us to the point of prayer. Not only do we find Hannah’s pain in this story. We find Hannah’s prayer.

1 Samuel 1:9 So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk… 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.

Please do not miss this. Hannah managed her pain and battle with Satan through prayer.

It seems that this battle with Peninnah went on for several years. It got especially bad each year when they went to the temple to offer sacrifices to God. By Jewish law, Elkanah had to give a larger portion to Peninnah because she had children. Therefore, Peninnah used this opportunity to rub Hannah’s nose in her pain. Satan has no mercy and he will use any and every situation possible to cause us to fear and to fret.

Finally Hannah had enough and she determined that she was going to go into the temple and she was going to pray until she got an answer from God.

As I was preparing this message, the Spirit brought to my mind a verse of scripture from the book of James.

James 5:16 …The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

The Spirit led me to dig a little deeper into this verse in order to determine what it was actually saying. To be honest, I was blown away. In order to understand it, we have to break it down phrase by phrase.

1. ‘the effectual fervent’

Basically this phrase speaks of a ‘working prayer.’ It’s not a quick, drive-by prayer we might throw out while our mind is on something else. It’s a prayer that is engaged in the situation and therefore is actively at work. It’s the Greek word from which we get the English word – energy. An effectual fervent prayer is prayer that contains energy.

One of the thing that makes a mother’s prayer so powerful is that she is engaged in the lives of those for whom she is praying. A mother has an investment in her children. She carried this little life inside of her for nine month and she walked through the valley of the shadow of death in order to bring it into the world. There were years when she wondered if she would ever get to sleep through the whole night ever again. She began nurturing this child at the moment of conception and she will probably never stop seeking to nurture it until the day she dies. It is who she is as a woman and as a mother. She loves this child more than she loves her own life. Her children are everything to her. Therefore, you can bet that her prayers for her children are going to be filled with her energy.

2. ‘prayer’

The second key word in this verse is the word ‘prayer.’ There is more than one word in the Bible that has been translated as ‘prayer.’ The word that is used most commonly refers to what we might call – general prayer. It means to come near to God and maybe to ask for something.

But there is another word translated as prayer that is much stronger.  Often this word is as –‘supplication.’

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer (general word) and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6 ESV)

Supplication is deeper prayer that just general prayer. Literally the word means: {to want, to lack, to desire, to long for, to ask, to beg.} Supplication is prayer that often begs God because it is expressing an intense need.

To go even a little deeper into the word it seems to carry with it the thought of being tied or bound in chains. I take that to mean that it is a prayer that has ‘consumed’ us. We are bound to the need to beg God for His help in this matter.

Hannah was consumed with her need for a child and therefore she unashamedly poured out her soul to God. In order to help us understand this thought even better, let me share with you some of the verses in scripture where this particular kind of praying was used.

Luke 5:12 …a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Luke 9:38 And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child.

Moms are not the only ones who plead to God for the well-being of their children. Godly dads do so as well. This is seen also in a man named Zacharias (the father of John the Baptist).

Luke 1:13  Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.

The church at Jerusalem pleaded for God’s power to enable them to spread the gospel –

Acts 4:31  And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together;

Paul pleaded for the salvation of his people –

Romans 10:1  Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.

The story is told of George Mueller and how the Lord put a burden on his heart to pray for the salvation of five lost friends.  Mueller began praying for his friends every day. Eighteen months passed before the first friend was saved. Then five years passed before the second friend was converted, and another six years passed before the third came to Christ. Three of Mueller’s friends had been saved, but two were still without Christ.

Once when Mueller was asked about these two men he replied –

“I have been praying every day for fifty-two years for two men, sons of a friend of my youth. They are not converted yet, but they will be! How can it be otherwise?”

Mueller died at the age of 92 and still these two men hadn’t been saved. Yet Mueller went to his death bed, firmly believing that they would. Within months of his passing, both men were saved.

Peter tells us –For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” ( 1 Peter 3:12)

3. ‘of a righteous man’

What does it mean to be righteous? Literally it means to be right with God. It is the same word that is sometimes translated as ‘justified.’ How is a man made right with God? There are two parts to our righteous standing before God:

a. Positional Righteousness Through the Blood of Christ

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

b. Practical Righteousness Through Our Walking in the Light

1 John 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

4. ‘availeth much’

Literally this means that it will prevail. It will have God’s power and strength behind it and it will prevail.

Hannah had that kind of power in her prayer.

II. The Dedication of Hannah’s Prayer

1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.

12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

A. Persistence of Her Prayers

12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD…

As I was preparing this sermon, another story about another mother in the Bible came to my mind. One day while Jesus was trying to rest in a house, a Gentile woman entered the house and the Bible says that she fell at Jesus’ feet and pleaded, or if you will – she begged Jesus to heal her daughter. Apparently her daughter was possessed by a demon and she could find no one who could help her.

At first it seemed like Jesus was either trying to ignore her or put her off. Jesus said, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and give it to the dogs.” Jesus did not say this because He didn’t love her, but because He wanted His disciples to see the hardness of their hearts towards non-Jewish people. Matthew’s gospel says that the disciples asked Jesus to get rid of her because she was driving them crazy with her begging.

Let me ask you a question – ‘How would you respond to what Jesus said if you had been this woman? How would you take – ‘It isn’t right to take the food that belongs to the children and throw it to the dogs?’  You know what she did? She didn’t stop begging. One of the key principles that we must learn about prayer if we are going to pray powerful prayers is that God desires persistence. That’s another message but many of you know that Jesus even told parables about how important it is that we be persistent in our prayers.

How did the woman respond to Jesus’ reply? “I agree Lord, but even the dogs are permitted to eat the crumbs that fall from the table.” In other words, “I believe that even the crumbs of Your grace and power will heal my daughter.” Jesus then said, “Because of what you have said, your daughter is healed!”

B. Passion of Her Prayers

1 Samuel 1:12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. 14 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee. 15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.

I won’t dare try to act out the way she was praying, but apparently it was very intense and full of passion. Eli didn’t hear a word from her mouth. He only saw her lips moving. Yet there was such passion in her prayer that he thought she was drunk. Think about that for a while.

C. Presentation of Her Prayers

1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head.

Of course we all know that the greatest part of her dedication was the vow she made before God to give her son back to the Lord all the days of his life. Literally she placed upon her son the vow of the Nazarite. The vow of a Nazarite was normally only for a period of time and the dedication of the vow as illustrated by three things:

1. No usage of anything associated with a grape, which included not only wine, but raisins

2. Never touch something dead

3. Never cut their hair 

All of these were symbols of the individual’s separation from the world and dedication to God. Normally the vow of a Nazarite was only for a period of time. Acts 18 seems to indicate that Apostle Paul took this vow for a period of time after he became a Christian and ended the time of the vow with the cutting of his hair.

But the vow Hannah took concerning her son wasn’t for a few weeks, a few months, or even for a few years. It was for a lifetime. “I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life…” Time will not permit us to study this whole chapter, but we read at the end of it –

1 Samuel 1:24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young. 25 And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.

I have often used the story of Hannah for a biblical basis for a Baby Dedication. I can think of no greater chapter in all the Bible to show us what a baby dedication is supposed to be. I would like to say this today; the dedication of a child is no more meaningful than the parent’s dedication to follow the example of Hannah. I’m not saying drop your kids off at church and never pick them up again. But I am saying that if we are going to make a vow before God, we better be faithful to keep it.

III. The Celebration of Hannah’s Prayer

I will close with the celebration of Hannah’s prayer.

A. Hannah and Elkanah Celebrated When God Gave Them a Son 

God honored Hannah’s desperate prayer and gave her a very special son. Samuel is perhaps one of the greatest men in all the Old Testament. No doubt Elkanah and Hannah celebrated when they discovered that she was pregnant and at Samuel’s birth. She named her special son ‘Samuel’ which means: “Heard of God.” Every time she called his name, she was reminded to celebrate the Lord’s goodness.

B. Hannah Celebrated When She Gave Her Son Back to God

I’m sure that Hannah celebrated when she gave birth to her son. But she also celebrated when she gave her son to the Lord.

1 Samuel 1:24 And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child was young.

How young was Samuel? Most think he was probably no more than four or five years old.”How could a mother do this?” some of you ladies are thinking. It had to be because believed that God had a very special purpose for her son and if God would give her such a special son, God would take care of him. Even with that I’m sure that it was hard for Hannah, yet we must admire her for fulfilling the vow she had made.

1 Samuel 2:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home.

Don’t you know that Hannah beamed with pride when she saw how God was using her son for His glory.

There’s one more little tidbit of celebration for Hannah.

C. Hannah Celebrated When God Gave Her More Sons and Daughters

1 Samuel 2:21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters…

CONCLUSION

I know that in this room today there are some moms and dads, granddads and grandmothers, aunts and uncles who pray for their children. Praise God for your faith in God and His power, and your faithfulness to pray. Please don’t quit. Almost every time I talk with my mom on the phone, she tells me that she prays for me every day. Thank you mom. Thank all of you moms and dad for your faithfulness to raise sons and daughters who know the Lord.

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