As the story of Hannah continues, she shows us another trait of a prayer warrior: A prayer warrior is a person who trusts in God’s goodness and power. After Hannah corrects Eli – that no, she is not drunk but is praying – Eli pronounces a benediction of sorts over her, and 1 Samuel 1:18 says, “Then she went her way and ate something and her face was no longer downcast.”
Why did she leave in a good frame of mind? Was she pregnant? No. In fact, the writer tells us that “in the course of time” the Lord remembered Hannah and she was able to at long last conceive. The answer to her prayer did not come at once or even right away, but she had peace in her heart nonetheless. Why? Because having cast her burdens on the Lord, she trusted that God was good enough and powerful enough to work out his will for her life.
Prayer warriors like Hannah are the ones Paul was thinking about when he wrote in Philippians 4:6 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer warriors have a peace that’s beyond understanding. It’s not because of circumstances, it may not even make sense humanly speaking. Where does it come from? It’s anchored in the trust of God’s goodness and power.
One of the reasons that so many doubt that their prayers matter is because they usually don’t see the immediate impact of their prayers. When we want something, we want it now, and if I don’t get it now, then it must not have worked. We think of prayer as a form of magic, rather than how we should view it – as a conversation we keep on the journey of life with a good and loving God who is with us.
I can think of all sorts of prayers which God doesn’t answer overnight, but “in the course of time”. If you ask God to help sort out your finances, he will, but rarely with an unexpected check in the mail. He answers the prayer by teaching you how to work hard, budget, save and give. Years ago, I prayed for God to heal my marriage, and our good and powerful God answered that prayer. But it took learning how to love and learning how to forgive, which took several years of seeing a marriage coach, and hundreds of quiet times where the Spirit of God would speak into my life about how to love my wife better.
We can’t just blithely quote Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart” – and then expect God to grant our shopping list. There’s a condition to this verse. It assumes that we’ve learned to take joy in God’s desires first.
Once Jesus becomes your all-consuming passion, that brand new camper just doesn’t start to look the same anymore. Sure, you can still talk to God about it. And if it comes, you can praise him for it. And if it doesn’t…well, you can praise him for it. Because you’ve reached a place where you trust his goodness and power.