Lord if you change my husband then I promise I will serve you more.”
“God I promise to start going to church again if you would just bring my future husband into my life!”
Have you ever prayed like that? “Lord if you do, then I will do…” Sometimes we look at God as if He is someone to barter with, like we need to make Him an offer He can’t refuse, and we act like we need to receive something from Him in order to change our behavior.
Take a look at Hannah in 1 Samuel 1-2:21. She tries one of those “If and Then” prayers with God.
Hannah couldn’t get pregnant but desperately wanted a child, so she said, “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” (1 Samuel 1:11 NLT)
“I will give him back to you..” That is a serious promise. It’s a good thing she meant what she said! God allowed her to conceive, and as we read on in the story we see that as soon as her son is weaned (which was probably at 2 or 3 years of age) she gives him back to the Lord by taking him to live with the priest, Eli. Hannah followed through on her promise to God. This was her precious baby that she had longed for and cried out to God for, and just like that, she gave him back. She even had a grateful heart about it too! This is part of her prayer to the Lord after she handed Samuel over to Eli:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me. No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God…” (1 Samuel 2:1-2 NLT)
Wow, talk about faith! She is not mourning, going back on her word, or bitterly giving God her son, she is cheerfully giving Him away and trusting that God will take care of him. Her focus is on Him and His greatness, not herself and her sorrow.
In Samuel 2:21, the Word tells us, “And the Lord blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” (NLT)
God blessed her beyond what she even asked for. He gave her five more children! What a great God we serve. Have you heard the saying, “You can never out-give God”…well this story is proof of that. We can never give God more than He can give us.
“Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8 NLT)
Hannah’s heart was willing to ask God for her deepest desire with the intention to give it away for His glory, and He blessed her greatly because of it.
Is there something that you have been desperately praying for that you haven’t received? Maybe God is waiting for your promise to give it back to Him.
Hannah was an excellent wife and an even better follower of Christ. We have so much to learn from her. Please take a moment to read her whole story, and ask God to show you what you need to surrender to Him, today.