The Bold Prayer of an Ordinary Woman

 

He will guard the feet of his faithful ones. 1 Samuel 2:9

Do you think about protecting your head or your feet?

One thing my husband is insistent on is the whole family wears helmets to protect our heads when we ride bikes.

Last year, when our daughter went to college in Savannah, Georgia she took a bike and bike helmet with her. Lots of students cycle in Savannah. However, they do not wear helmets. My daughter’s bike gets well used, but the helmet sits unused. Concerned for her safety, my husband urged her to wear it.

“Choose what you go to the wall for,” I told him. I received this piece of advice as a young mom, and it has proved to be invaluable in raising my children. In other words, don’t insist on your own way in everything with your children. But, decide which battles are worth winning. Choose which ones are really important to fight for. Demanding that my daughter wear her bike helmet in Savannah was not one of them.

We care a lot about protecting our heads, yet the Bible talks more about looking after our feet. It doesn’t mean our physical feet. Instead, feet are a reference to aspects of our spiritual lives.

Feet can refer to the path or direction chosen by a person, as in Proverbs 6:18 which tells of feet that are quick to rush into evil. It’s a reminder to “walk,” or chose to go God’s way.

Feet allude to our secure spiritual status with God, as in Psalm 40:2: He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Feet can also be a reference to another person. Psalm 36:11 says: May the foot of the proud not come against me.

Then, as with our verse from Samuel, the feet are often used to remark on God’s watchful care over the lives of those who love him. The Bible is full of God’s promises to not let our feet slip or take the wrong path, and to make the path for our feet to be straight and smooth.

I expected the words of our verse, as they are from the book of Samuel that tells a story of kingship, to be spoken by King David—a fighter, God’s anointed king, and a man after God’s own heart. To my surprise, I discovered they were the fighting words of an ordinary woman, Hannah, with life experiences no different from our own.

Hannah desperately wanted to get pregnant, but each month her body reminded her she had not. She didn’t feel any pressure from her husband, Elkanah. He doted on her, but Elkanah had found another way to deal with the problem of Hannah not producing children to continue the family name. He had taken another wife and to Hannah’s dismay, Peninnah had no problem getting a swelling belly.

Elkanah, like most men, seemed clueless to the underlying female friction in his household. Peninnah liked to make a mockery of Hannah’s infertility. Oh, I’m sure Peninnah was subtle with her provocation—little things done deliberately to make Hannah feel miserable—so no one could accuse her of being mean. Taking the crying baby from Hannah’s arms with the words “he needs his mother,” or exclaiming excitedly when the baby kicked and getting Elkanah to feel her tummy.

It’s not like Hannah could escape from this taunting. These two women had to share the same house, the same kitchen, and even the same faith. Hannah and Peninnah visited the temple together as a family.

Yet, in this wretched situation Hannah had an extraordinary faith in God, her heavenly Father.

Misunderstood by her husband, taunted by the other wife, and even mistaken by the priest at the temple, Hannah struggled to stay strong in her problems. Yet, she relied on God’s supernatural strength to make her bold in her prayer for help in 1 Samuel 1, in trusting God in her life, and in praising him as the source of good things in 1 Samuel 2.

Read

Read the story of Hannah’s prayer for help in 1 Samuel 1:11-16 and her prayer of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.

Reflect

How can Hannah’s prayers inspire you to be bold in both good times and bad?

Respond

Where in your ordinary life can you be bold in your prayer requests, have extraordinary faith, and thank God for taking care of you?

 

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This week, I am linking up with Susan Mead at #DanceWithJesus

All Scripture is from the New International Version.

Discussion

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