Praying Selflessly

“The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed” (v. 10).

- 1 Samuel 2:1–11

 Why do you pray? Think about examples of prayer in Scripture for a minute with me: We have the prayer of Hezekiah when he was told he would die; Mordecai prayed when the lives of the exiled Israelites were in danger; Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah. All these accounts and others show us how God uses prayer to bring His Own sovereign will to pass. One aspect of prayer that you don’t want to miss though, is prayers that are concerned about the covenant community.

A few weeks ago, as a church, we were in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:12 in our morning worship. We read about Hannah; this godly woman married to Elkanah. For years she was unable to have a child. One year as her family traveled to Shiloh, Hannah prayed desperately for a son and promised to dedicate him to the Lord if God would grant her one. God graciously granted her the request

In 1 Samuel 2:1-11 we read the prayer Hannah gave in thankfulness to God for the answered prayer. One striking aspect of the prayer is focused not only on God’s goodness in giving Hannah the child Samuel but also on God's goodness on the entire nation of Israel.

This prayer is a prayer of praise and rejoicing in the God Who makes the barren fruitful, and it also looks to God to strengthen the king who is not yet seated on the throne, in fact, the monarchy hasn’t even been established yet. Hannah saw in the answer to her prayer a witness to God’s grace extended to the whole of Israel and she expressed praise for that.

It would be right for us to have a similar focus. It's so easy to get focused on our own needs that we ignore the needs of the church. When you are blessed by God, thank Him, and then consider how this blessing might be shared with God’s people as well. Hannah was praying for a child with a view to him serving God and preparing the way for Israel’s king. We too should pray with one eye looking to how God might answer our prayer in a way that extends His Kingdom. As we consider our own needs in prayer let us consider how the answer might be used by God to meet the needs of His people.

What specific things are you praying for? Take some time now and think about how the answers to those prayers might impact the kingdom of God here on earth. It might be easier in some prayers than others, but we should all be praying in a way that helps the ministry of the church. Are you praying for a husband or wife? Pray for a godly one that can bless the ministry of the church and encourage you to greater service for the Lord. Are you praying for a promotion? Pray that the promotion will enable you to give abundantly to the kingdom. Are you praying for healing? Pray that the healing will enable greater energy and usefulness for the kingdom.