Impossible Answers to Prayer
I Samuel 19:20-28
We are currently paused in our story of Hannah long enough to look at a few Biblical examples of “impossible” answers to prayer. The last one I would like to consider before returning to the focal point of Hannah is outlined in Acts 12. The chapter is introduced with Herod killing James, the brother of John, and it pleasing the Jews so much that Herod decides to kill Peter as well. So we find Peter in prison with sixteen soldiers guarding him. Four on each side. Amazing to think that Herod was so paranoid of miracles! This did not stop God’s work for one second. You see, verse 5 tells us: “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” The astronomical probability of the situation did not deter the faith of the church. They continued to pray in spite of the human situation. So the night before Herod is planning to kill Peter, Peter apparently wasn’t having much of a problem with peace. He was sleeping between two guards! The angel of the Lord appears in a great light, slaps Peter on the side and his chains fall off! Peter thinks he must be dreaming, but the angel tells him to put on his clothes and shoes and then the angel escorts him right out of the prison to the gate of the city. At this point, Peter finally realizes, “This ain’t no dream!” and he goes to Mary’s house, where “many were gathered together praying.” This impossible answer to prayer is so strong, so forthright, and so like our God. He answered in His own time, His own way and His own power. However, twice we are told in this passage about the prayers that were being lifted up for Peter. God so delights in honoring His Word! There was no place for the glory of this miracle to go except right back to God and how He loves to receive our praise. When we begin to grasp the concept of communicating with Him about every situation, regardless of its impossibility, we are demonstrating the power of prayer. So Peter the preacher came home singing, “My chains are gone.”
Peter was in physical bonds and so we should pray for those in physical bonds. One of my pastors just finished an amazing series of sermons, part of which was on this very topic of bondage and the fact that Christ came to “set the captives free….” (Luke 4:18-19.) But we all know that captivity has evolved in many forms and there are so many types of “prisons” in which people live. Without Jesus, these bonds will not be broken and without prayer, these chains cannot be loosed.
We have looked at the issues of slavery, worldly competition, and prison in this evaluation of Biblical examples of “ impossible” answers to prayer. Now we return to Hannah and the issue of barrenness.
There are four women in the Bible who were given children in direct light of impossible circumstances. First is Sarah. (Genesis 18:10-15 and Gen. 21:1&2) Abraham was promised a heritage from the Lord. More family than the stars in the sky. Yet he was getting old and his wife was getting older! Without discovering all the details of Sarah’s story, there are two key phrases to look at in the Scripture regarding her scenario. Twice the question was asked, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” Don’t we sometimes think that things really are too hard for God? We pray and yet we wonder at God’s promises. When we get a “no” answer, then we think that the circumstance was just too big instead of thinking that He has something better in store. The next phrase is “at the set time.” God’s timing is perfect; He never starts too early or quits too soon. When we get a “wait” answer in our prayer lives, we think He can’t possibly know that instant gratification isn’t the best solution. So have you gotten a “no” answer lately? I have. Our family has. Have you received a “wait” answer lately? I have a prayer that I’ve been praying for literally ten years. And so far, the answer has been wait. Is it easy? No, definitely not. But God wants to receive the glory in a way that we know that only He could do such a thing and if part of that plan is waiting then it must be the best! I am SO excited to see His plan unfold because I know His promises are true. The beauty of the power of prayer is this: He gives us more than enough grace and mercy to sustain us while we wait. “And now for a little space grace hath been showed from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:8) Deliverance WILL come; it is only a matter of HIS will in the details.
Coming from a mom with a heart for God.