How many times have we underestimated prayer? I know I have, many times. What would be the cause of that? Lack of faith? Lack of trust? These are some questions I ask myself as I look into the lives of women of prayer, such as Hannah. We read about her story in 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2.
Hannah was one of two wives of a man named Elkanah. This family was known to be faithful in going year after year to the town of Shiloh to worship the Lord and give their sacrifices. Now, I did mention, Elkanah had two wives. The name of the second wife was Peninnah. We are told right at the beginning of the story that “Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.” This little fact lets us know that there was trouble in the home of Elkanah. We read that Peninnah kept provoking Hannah and mocking her for being barren.
Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. 1 Samuel 1:7
Peninnah was a thorn in Hannah’s side. We do not know why Hannah was not bearing children but God knew. He was well aware of his plan for her. Have you had someone like Peninnah in your life? Someone who seems to spend way too much time finding ways to put you down, make fun of you or tease you about something? Despite Peninnah’s meanness, Hannah remained faithful to God. She continued to go year after year to the house of God and pour out her heart.
Hannah’s genuine desire was to have a son. She longed to be a mother.
Hurtful situations and difficult circumstances can do two things to us:
1. Pull us away from God, and deal with the matters on our own by our own terms OR
2. Draw us near to God, place our problems at his feet and allow him to deal with it.
Hannah chose the latter.
In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:10
Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. 1 Samuel 1:13
While Hannah was in deep prayer at the temple, Eli the priest observed her and even thought something was wrong with her because her prayer was so fervent. Her response to him was:
1 Samuel 1:15-16
I am a woman who is deeply troubled…I was pouring out my soul to the Lord…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.
Eli the priest, blessed her and told her “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him…Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” 1 Samuel 1:17-18
Are you able to pour out your soul to God like Hannah? Do you feel comfortable allowing him to know of those things you keep hidden in your heart?
His word tells us we are more than able to come before him just as we are, and pour out our hearts.
Hebrews 4:16 says:
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Philippians 4:6-7 reminds us:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.
You see, Hannah understood the heart of God. She knew she could come before him and pour out her heart because he would not only listen, but he would do something about it.
She recognized that God was in control.
Once she left her hearts desires, her problems, and her hurts at the throne of Jesus, she was able to get up, be at peace and not be depressed or discouraged. She walked away waiting in expectation…
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
This is a challenge for us all. May we go confidently to the throne of grace, pour out our hearts, and walk away at peace as we wait in expectation. For we know that our God is faithful.
Did Hannah receive the desire of her heart? Meet me here, next Wednesday and find out! Take a peek at the story in 1 Samuel chapters 1 & 2 if you just can’t wait 😉