One of the foundational principles given to us in the Book of 1 Samuel in order to help us understand how the Kingdom of God works, is that of the importance a praying mother has in shaping the destiny of her child. The book opens with Hannah's prayer for a male child. The answer to that prayer is the birth of Samuel, and then through Samuel's ministry there begins a transition in Israel from theocracy to monarchy.
One of the mistakes we make is to judge on outward appearances rather than the heart. Who would have thought a praying mother would have given birth to the first kingmaker of Israel? Who would have thought that this little boy Samuel would go on to become a man who would bring the word of the Lord to all Israel?
Praying mothers are of priceless value in the Lord's eyes. Hannah's prayer is very similar to that of Mary's in Luke 1 v 46-55. It was a praying mother behind the birth of Samuel, and a praying mother behind the birth and nurturing of Jesus. Paul will also commend Timothy's grandmother Lois, and mother Eunice, for their spiritual nurturing of Timothy in his developmental years( 2 Tim 1 v 5).
It is recorded in both 1 Samuel 2 v 26, and in Luke 2 v 52 that both Samuel and Jesus 'grew in favour both with the Lord and men'. How much of that growing in grace was because of the godly praying of their respective mothers?
A brief look at their two great prayers recorded in 1 Samuel 2 v 1-10, and Luke 1v 46-55 will give all of us insights into the foundations of their prayer ministry, and especially provide an inspirational model for every praying mother in the church.
1. Both had joy in the place of prayer.
1 Sam 2 v 1, Luke 1v 46-47.
All great moves of God are birthed in joyful prayer. One of the characteristics of the Kingdom is 'righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit'( Romans 14 v 17). These women were characterized by joy.
2. Both knew that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
1 Sam 2 v 3, Luke 1 v 52.
Humility is one of the foundational keys to authentic spiritual sight. These women were sensitive to what attracted the Lord's presence, and to what would grieve Him. The Kingdom of God is released through men and women of humility, not through men like King Saul who have statues built to their own honour(1 Samuel 15 v 12).
3. Both knew that God wanted justice and vindication for the poor.
(1 Sam 2 v 8, Luke 1 v 53).
Proverbs 21 v 13 says this:
'Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard'.
As we give to the poor our money, time, and lives, then we will find a greater openness from the Lord towards us in prayer.
4. Both knew that the source of their strength was the Lord.
(1 Sam 2 v 4, 10. Luke 1 v 51, 54).
The story of the Tower of Babel teaches us many things, one of which is how determined men can be to build very impressive empires and portfolios without any help from the Lord. David wrote in Psalm 20 that although 'some trust in chariots, and some in horses', he would trust in the name of his God.
Our strength is from the Lord, and often that will be in our weaknesses. When a mother is tired and exhausted at the business end of yet another long day mothering children, those prayers spoken over their children at night carry far greater weight and strength than we realise. In our tiredness and vulnerability, the Holy Spirit can help us in our weakness. How many men and women are where they are today because of the faithfulness of a praying mother?
5. Both kept the Lord's Name central in their prayers.
There are 22 references in Hannah's prayer, and 17 in Mary's to the Lord in one way or another. We are the Lord's servant, he is not ours. We are blessed by the Kingdom of God, but the Kingdom is not our servant. All honour and blessing belong to Him, and in our praying the Lord is the centre of gravity, not us.
6. Both knew that prophetic prayer was as much about moral formation as it was about discerning the future.
Both their prayers could be summarized with the words of Amos 5 v 24:
'But let justice run down like water, And righteousness like a mighty stream'.
Prophetic ministry and prayer are built on the foundation of moral and ethical leadership in the Holy Spirit. Praying mothers can demonstrate in their words and actions how to model correct living and speaking in this 'crooked and perverse generation'(Phil 2 v 15).
7. Both of them knew how to distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.
(1Samuel 2 v 9, Luke 1 v 52,54).
Both Hannah and Mary could discern between the proverbial fool and wise man. God loves all men, but some through their own choices are commended as wise, and others fools. Hannah would not have been taken in by the lifestyles of Eli's sons(1 Samuel 2 v 12-17). Praying mothers can be wonderful moral compasses in helping train their children to distinguish good from evil.
I for one am convinced that praying mothers and listening children are essential foundations in the Kingdom of God. Often their lives are hidden ones. However, the Lord sees what is done and prayed in secret and will reward in full these champions of the faith.