Read: Read 1 Samuel 1:9-28
“Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him” (I Samuel 1:17).
Sometimes there is debate as to whether answered prayer is a coincidence. Did our praying coincide with an actual happening we hoped for, or was there a higher power that changed reality to match our requests?
There are many stories of believers that have prayed for something they needed and God answered them. Our Bible reading today tells the story of a woman who longed for a son. After experiencing a barren womb for many years, she began to fast and pray that God would give her a son. She also vowed that she would give the child back to God if He answered her prayer.
I could tell you many stories of answered prayers. When my wife asked if we could buy some apples, I suggested that she pray for apples. That very afternoon someone stopped by our house and asked if we wanted a half bushel of apples. Coincidence? Answered prayer? Another time our family returned from the mission field, and we needed to drive a borrowed vehicle. We had none of our own and no money to buy one. We decided to pray and ask God to give us a van. A few weeks later a friend of mine asked if we needed a vehicle, and I said that yes, we do. He told me that all I have to do is drive to a dealer in our local town, sign a paper, and a van would be ours. I never saw the owner. God had inspired this man to give the van away after he had bought a new one. Did I happen to be the recipient? Or was this an answer to prayer?
William Temple is quoted to have said, “When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.” To the believer to walk with God and to pray and expect answers is normal. We simply believe the answer is the result of our prayer. Thomas Aquinas said, “To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” This means that you get to choose whether you want to believe answered prayer is simply coincidence or not. I choose to believe that it is not a coincidence, and that God lovingly designed the answer not only to Hannah’s prayer but to thousands before her and after her.
~Harold R. Troyer