Pray like Hannah

Do you want to enrich your prayer life but just need some guidance to do so? I have written a devotional called Forty Day Journey of Prayer to help. Each day is meant to both encourage you in God's word and also reveal God's heart concerning his desire to hear your unique voice. Below is a sample day from the devotional in which we see Hannah pouring her soul out to the Lord...

Day 16

 As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk…But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:13-15

For the full story, please read 1 Samuel 1:1-20.

The story of Hannah is most likely a familiar one to all of us. She was married to Elkanah, but was unable to bear children. She longed for a baby, and waited and waited for one to come, but to no avail. So, she prayed.

Was this fervent praying that we read about in the above passage the first time Hannah had prayed over her heart’s desire? No, I don’t believe it was. Scripture says that year after year she was provoked by Peninnah, who was Elkanah’s second wife. (Imagine that situation!). This woman was able to bear children, and taunted Hannah tirelessly. Hannah had lived in this distressing environment fora long, long time. I would bet that all that time, she prayed fervently for a child.

After reading and thinking about this passage, pondering what to write, I heard the gentle whisper, Pray like Hannah. I thought of that simple sentence and realized just how powerful it was. Let’s look and visualize how she prayed:

She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10)

She was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving… (1 Samuel 1:13).

(Hannah said), “I have poured out my soul before the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:15)

What if we all prayed like Hannah? Can we? One thing it requires is time. Hannah went up to the house of the Lord (v. 7). We too must make a deliberate choice to set aside time and go to the Lord. Also, Hannah was vulnerable. She wept before the Lord, pouring out her distress and her desire. She was so involved in her praying, she forgot everything around her. Unashamed and unhindered, she prayed.

This morning, once again, I felt the gentle nudging, pray like Hannah. In the quiet darkness, I stood up--not sure why; I just did. I recited my prayer list in my mind, but at the same time, I poured it out from my heart. I talked to theLord about all the things that I had committed to Him. I just kept talking with a small whisper. Lifting up my hands, I kept pouring it all out. The beautiful thing is, I know I was heard. Peace flooded in.

I cannot fully understand the mystery of prayer, but I can understand the command to doit. I will never be able to explain the reason for the “no’s”, the “wait’s”, or the “yes’s”, but I can trust His sovereign plan to answer in His right way, and in His right time. For Hannah, after years of a seeming “no”, the cry of her heart became a “yes”. Let this encourage you.

In your journal write down the name Sovereign Lord, and then write your prayer list underneath. Today, find some time and space to pray like Hannah. Take your list before the One who hears and honors your heartfelt, soul-bearing cries. Don’t give up. If He commands us to pray, there is a reason for it.

For further reading and journaling write down any words that encourage you: Exodus2:23-25; Psalm 142:1-2

Dear Lord,

ThankYou for listening to us! Hear our cries, O Lord. We lift up all our requests toYou in earnest knowing that we have been heard. We trust You to work. We thankYou for Your peace. Amen

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Monday, February 15, 2021
By Chris Baxter

One Who Calms

Yesterday I was discouraged. I won't go into detail, but I cried (literally) to the Lord about some things with my writing; bottom line, technology has never been my friend. And then today... I received two random but timely texts about the same prayer found in my devotional book,The Heartbeat of God. (By the way, it's on Amazon, if you're looking for a devotional prayer book). Since this scripture-based prayer spoke to these two people, in two different states, decades apart in ages, I thought it might also encourage you:

O God, You are the One who Calms. I confess to You right now that my thoughts and emotions are in a whirlwind. I cannot rest. I want to manage and control each and every situation and make it "right." I know this is impossible in and of my own strength, but it doesn't keep me from worrying and trying! So I come to You, and I pour out my complaint before You and tell You all my trouble; for You are my safe place. Thank You for Your patience as You listen; thank You for Your lovingkindness as You work. As I pour out my issues, O God, I pray that I will be attentive enough to the peace-filled words that You long to pour in. Allow me to learn from the disciples of long ago: Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, "Peace be with you." And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples therefore rejoiced when they saw the Lord, Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them "Receive the Holy Spirit." Dear Jesus, sweet Savior of mine, hallelujah! You are in my midst! Please breathe Your peace into me once again so that my troubled heart will be quieted. And then Lord, help me to focus on You, the One who Calms, instead of my present circumstances that only stir up unproductive strife within my soul. For You promise in Your word: You keep in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts You. Therefore, I will trust You with all my heart and not lean on my own understanding, and I will also choose to meditate on who You are: You are all-knowing, You are able, You are strong, You are good, You are sovereign, You are at work. Ah, in remembering who You are, I can rest. Yes, I can now hear You gently whisper these words of promise into my quieted soul, Cease striving, and know that I am God. Indeed, You are the One who Calms.

Psalm 142:2; John 20:19-22; Isaiah 26:3; Proverbs 3:5; Psalm 46:10

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Wednesday, August 5, 2020
By Chris Baxter

The Habit of Casting

Are you carrying an unwanted burden at the moment? Maybe you have an armful, or I should say, a heart full of worries that are weighing you down.

Because I tend to hold onto anxious thoughts, a bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:

...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.   (I Peter 5:7)

And this one:

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)

The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all of our anxieties and burdens off of ourselves, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself for our benefit. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannot control? Why do I think I am stronger or wiser or more able than the God who made me, knows me, and loves me?

Casting is a choice, and it takes practice. And just like everything else in life, the more you do something the better you get at it.

Let's you and I choose to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. Let's name each worry that we naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). Decide today to hurl with hope. Throw your worries faithfully and fervently into the direction of your Savior. In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone.

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

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Monday, July 20, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Dialoguing with God

I came across a great passage on prayer through my current devotional book called Forty Days of Prayer by Kit Cummings. Here are the verses and some of my thoughts:

The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

"Alas, Sovereign Lord," I said, "I do not know how to speak; I am too young."

But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am too young,' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you.," declares the Lord.

The the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, "I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant." Jeremiah 1:4-10In the above passage, God and Jeremiah are dialoging with each other. Before I write about anything else in this post, let us remember that prayer is not merely a one way conversation in which we are the only ones talking; rather, He too has something to say to us. He speaks to us every day through His word and His spirit. So, let's use the words above as His dialogue not only to Jeremiah, but also to our very own hearts today. What is the Lord saying through His living and active words? Here are a few things I "hear" that are for you and for me. God says:

  1. I knew you before you were born.
  2. I have set you apart and appointed you for My purposes.
  3. Do not say, "I am too ______".
  4. Obey every word I give you, no matter the opposition.
  5. Do not be afraid. I am with you!
  6. I will touch you. I will put my words in your mouth to fulfill what I've asked you to do.

We are today's Jeremiah. (We are also today's David, today's Samuel, today's Moses, today's Ruth, today's Esther...for such a time as this!) Allow God's interaction with these people of old to be the inspiration for His appointed purposes in you TODAY. What He said to them in the past, is now for our hearts in the present. Let's continue to bring all our prayers to Him, big and small, but also, let's hang around long enough to hear His words back to us. What is He asking you to do today for His name sake? Write a note to a friend? Make a meal for a neighbor? Visit a widow?

Reread the list above and walk forward in obedience with great faith. And let me remind you, God is just as pleased with a note of encouragement to one person as He is with someone speaking to the masses. Both are important callings, but He never "keeps count" of what's "more worthy" the way we humans tend to do. He sees the heart and smiles at our devotion to Him. (Think of the widow's mite found in Luke 21:1-4).

Let's all be today's Jeremiah. Dialogue with God, receive His incredible promises, and then do something for Him...today.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020
By Chris Baxter

How to be on the Same Page

I have a friend who expressed how she wished that her family could somehow all be "on the same page" with each other. Oh how I want that for my family as well! I'm sure you may feel this longing about your loved ones, or your co-workers, or even the people you serve with in ministry.

One way to bring about strong unity is through consistent prayer for one another. I have written short Scripture-based prayers for this very purpose. Here are 2 of 365 examples:

Counselor. I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you (Psalm 32:8). Dear Lord, You know the best path for each of us. Keep our eyes fixed on You. Give us willing hearts to trust and obey Your guidance as we step forward in faith each new day.

Peace. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give you; do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid (John 14:27). Dear Lord, Your peace is truly the only real rest for our souls. Everything else is a temporary anesthetic. By your Spirit, breathe into us a divine calmness, not to sedate us to inactivity, but to inspire us to share Your incomprehensible peace with the world.

If you would like to receive these prayers in your email, then please subscribe to "Daily Prayers" on my website: http://www.RespitefortheWeary.com. Ask your family members, co-workers, or ministry partners to subscribe as well so that you and "your people" can claim the same name of God and bible verse over each other on a daily basis.

God's name and Word are powerful. Claim it together and receive His blessing.

There's no better place to be than on His Same Page.

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Monday, January 27, 2020
By Chris Baxter

Ten Ways Prayer "Accomplishes Much"

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. James 5:16

The verse above is a familiar one to many of us when referring to prayer. It encourages us to pray often and effectively, and because we are declared righteous in Christ, we can lift up our requests with boldness. The passage that follows James 5:16 speaks of Elijah, who prayed for the rain to stop (and it did) and then three and a half years later, he prayed for the rain to start (and it did). Now that’s effective praying! Also, the above verse was penned through James, the half-brother of Jesus. It is said that one of his nicknames was “Camel knees” because he developed callouses on his knees from hours he devoted to daily prayer. These two men of God, Elijah and James, would want us to know the Lord the way they knew Him, both personally and powerfully through prayer.

After thinking about the above verse, I made a broad list of how prayer has accomplished much in my own life. These are things I have learned over the years in my growing walk with the Lord:

  1. Prayer replaces my worry with His peace.
  2. Prayer helps me focus positively on others rather than negatively on myself.
  3. Prayer keeps me from trying to manipulate or control situations.
  4. Prayer keeps me from overly talking to people, about people.
  5. Prayer provides me a free ongoing session with my Wise Counselor.
  6. Prayer opens my eyes to the movement of God.
  7. Prayer touches hearts in ways my words cannot.
  8. Prayer increases my faith and causes me to worship.
  9. Prayer makes me thankful rather than ungrateful.
  10. Prayer makes my relationship with God personal and intimate.

What about you? How has effectual prayer accomplished much in your life? Make a list and thank Him for the privilege of having access to Him at all times concerning all things. Lift your requests and receive all the benefits.

Pray much and accomplish much...every day.

Dear Lord,

Prayer is an unending gift! Thank You! May we talk to You morning, noon, and night. Accomplish much in us and through us as we humbly lift our praise and petitions to You. Amen.

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Friday, August 16, 2019
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

Just

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. - 1 Peter 3:18

Dear Lord Jesus, You stood in our place; you bore our judgement; you died our death...the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). Your grace abounds! Thank you Savior. Thank you Friend. Amen.