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In Hard Times – Stepping Out On Faith

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Local Women’s Ministry turns to Hannah’s prayer of expectations

By Chris Levister –

At the Inghram Community Center in San Bernardino, their arms are raised in praise as they sway to the music with eyes closed. The St. Paul A.M.E Church Women’s Ministry is awash in sweet fellowship, grits, eggs, bacon, teaching and devotion.

In ordinary times, this annual two-and-a-half day women’s retreat takes place at the Alhatti Christian Resort in Idyllwild nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains. But these are not ordinary times. Many of the 100 plus attendees are barely hanging on in a sea of financial hardship unable to afford the expense of travel and lodging.

“Layoffs, pay cuts, reduced hours, times are getting hard for everybody even those of us who have jobs,” explains Minister Yolanda Roberts. So the women accustomed to spiritual replenishment amid the tall pines and peace and quiet of the mountains opted instead for a two-day praise and worship breakfast/ luncheon at the church’s community center.

The group adopted the theme “Stepping Out on Faith” and invited women of all, races, ethnicities and faiths to stand together in prayer and expectations much like the story of Hannah in the Old Testament.

“Hannah prayed to God with expectations. In the first chapter of Samuel, she was portrayed as being a very unhappy and desperate woman,” Robert said.

“In reading this story, you might think she had nothing to be unhappy about. The reason for her unhappiness was she wanted God to bless her with a son. But year after year, her womb remained barren. She prayed knowing and believing that God was going to give her a son.”

Roberts said to make matters worse, because of her barren condition, Hannah was scorned by her husband’s other wife Peninnah.

“This is why Hannah’s story is such a good example of how we can also get answers to our prayers, during desperate times. When we are desperate, and cry out to God with our whole heart, change takes place.”

She said, “God knows what is in our heart and hears us. Hannah finally received a miracle from the Lord, and she conceived and gave birth to a son, named Samuel.”
 Roberts explained that it was only after all of Hannah’s efforts failed, and after her adversary had provoked her to the point of desperation, that she finally prayed her heart out to God.

“It is this kind of prayer that gets results, because when we totally trust God, instead of ourselves, He will always meet our needs.” In her keynote message, Aspiring Missionary and Rialto Unified School District educator Johnnie Simmons, J.D. charged the worshipers to believe that the word and love of God can be fulfilled in all people as long as they are willing to develop the 3 D’s of prayer in their life: Discipline, Desire and Delight.

“When we fall on hard times in our lives, often times our instinct for survival overrides everything,” said Simmons.

“Our relationships, our jobs, our faith—no area of our lives is spared from the panic we feel when life begins going south. But is that the right approach to take when crisis hits our lives? Is abandoning ship and flailing toward shore the right way to navigate through stormy seas? And what about our faith? Is God still God in the bad times just like He is in the good times? The truth of the matter is hard times are exactly that—hard. But how we approach those periods in our lives determines whether we’ll just survive, thrive or sink altogether,” she told the attendees.

“There is power through prayer therefore, you must always pray and wait,” said Simmons.

“So, no matter how desperate your problems are, don’t quit, just pray like Hannah, with your whole heart,” Roberts said in closing remarks.

The Bible says in Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” -- and in Luke 1:37 “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

“The secret of effective prayer is to trust and depend on God, and not yourself,” Simmons said. “Pray with your whole heart; ask God to reveal His word to you; then, believe and you shall receive!”

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