1 Sam. 1:10-11
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.”
All he saw was a couple who seemed to have it made. For Bible-believing Christians, they sure were living the high life. He wondered why he had so little while God had given that couple so much. He began to judge them and think that they would not have so much if they gave as they should give and if they cared for those less fortunate as the Church is called to do. His insight into their lives, however, was extremely limited. He did not know their own history of poverty and financial irresponsibility. They had spent most of their married life struggling and praying for God to teach them financial wisdom and to bless them so that they could bless others. What the young man never saw was that their house was always full of guests, their table always feeding others, and their hands always lending generously and without expectation.
Hannah desperately wanted a son. Her heart’s desire was certainly hers, but it was also God’s. When we see what transpired from the time of her prayer until the end of that miraculous son’s life, it is clear this was God’s plan. Hannah could not have known that, and she could have prayed for her son strictly out of selfish motives. Instead, she prayed for a life to be dedicated to the Lord. Instead of focusing only on herself and her desires, she offered a prayer which would satisfy God as well. If we think about it, this approach to prayer is only sensible. It would stand to reason that those things which we receive from God should honor him. It would stand to reason that the blessings we seek should also bless him to bring them forth.
It is very tempting in this world to seek God simply for our own satisfaction. What we need to determine is what lies at the root of our desires. We can pray for things that serve only our own purposes. We can pray for God to bring us things just so we will be content. We might even ask for things we know will lead us from God and his ways. When we lose the focus of prayer, which always should be the glorification of God through our request, we can be led to pray for all kinds of things we should not be seeking. Before we say those words, we must discover what is at the root of our request. Father, purify our hearts and our desires that we would seek through prayer only those things which bring You glory and honor.