Originally published Friday, 10 May 2013.
Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably. Then she made a vow: Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. 1 Samuel 1:10-11 (MSG)
We were putting dinner out and talking about how we hope my husband can have chemo tomorrow when suddenly I blurted out,
“God, please help my husband to have chemo tomorrow!”
I never thought I’d be praying that my husband would have chemo.
Oh, the prayers we pray that we thought we’d never have to.
I turn and see my sister—in-law, taking down plates for dinner - just back from her gran’s funeral - and of the unthinkable prayers that must have been prayed for her suffering gran; prayers that God would take her gran home quickly.
And the prayers some of my friends have whispered that someone else would choose not to keep their child so that they could welcome a baby into their home.
Un. Thinkable. Prayers.
Almost, unsayable prayers.
These are the cries of hearts being spoken, and we pause and wonder if God hears, if the Lord understands the pain and hope intertwined when we stutter them out.
Or if God throws them away and wonders how we dared to pray them in first place.
I recall the unthinkable prayer that Hannah prayed in 1 Samuel, “Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, if you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain, if you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me by giving me a son, I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you. I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.”
Hannah prayed a bargaining prayer, a last hope prayer, a prayer that laid all her pain out before God and said, “Lord, do something!”
And God did. God heard her. And God gave her a son. A son, Hannah gave back to God.
I’m not saying that bargaining prayers are the way to communicate with God, or that sacrificing our hopes or promising to give everything to God, is the way to get what we want in prayer. In fact, I think this type of prayer is often how we try to manipulate God into coming round to our way of thinking.
What I am saying is that God hears our unthinkable prayers.
God hears the prayers that we thought we’d never pray, the words that we hope no one ever knows asked God for and the appeals that we literally sob through heavens gates.
God hears every word.
I believe God answers every unthinkable prayer.
Does God always answer our prayers the way we want? No. That would be unthinkable. (Tweet this
I wish I could tell you how God answered the prayer I thought I’d never pray - the one about please, “Lord, let my husband have chemo” – but we haven’t been to hospital yet, we haven’t had the blood tests that will show if he’s well enough for chemo.
What I can tell you is that no prayer is too unthinkable to speak to God.
God won’t close his ears to the breaking of your heart and the sighing of your soul. (Tweet this)
The Lord sees your pain, he is listening, and he will answer.
When was the last time you prayed an unthinkable prayer? Do you think God heard you? Does the story of Hannah help you to believe that God heard your prayer and will answer?
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