Welcome to Day 7 of 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know! I am excited about this series and hope it is an encouragement to both women and men to spend time studying the women in the Bible. We can learn much from them about how to live for the glory of God.
Hannah: Passionate Prayer
Prayer. It’s always been hard for me. I’ve shared often that I pray Scripture because I am never really sure what else to pray. I felt like a prayer failure for most of my life. Only in the past few years have I begun to pray with more confidence.
Hannah’s story may be familiar to you. Often we hear it in the context of infertility or even sacrificial mothering. But, for me, Hannah’s story is always about prayer.
As we begin reading Hannah’s story, we discover two things. First, her husband deeply loved her. And second, her husband’s other wife (which is a topic for a whole different post on another day) loathed her.
Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband Elkanah would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”1 Samuel 1:4-8 CSB
So, here we have Hannah, in a culture that valued women only as much as how many sons they had, being taunted by her rival. But the biggest heartache for Hannah was not having a child. And, it seems, that Elkanah didn’t really grasp the depths of her despair about this situation.
On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.”1 Samuel 1:9-11 CSB
Stop for a minute and read that prayer out loud. Did you hear that? The one thing she wanted more than anything else she was willing to give back to the Lord if He would just give it to her for a season.
“Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” 1 Samuel 1:11
Hannah’s prayer helps us see two important truths:
- God is sovereign. Hannah approached God recognizing His authority over all things, including her ability to bear a child.
- God alone could give her what she most wanted. Hannah knew that God knew the desire of her heart and that He alone could answer her prayer.
Hannah wasn’t offering God a deal. She wasn’t trying to bargain with Him. She was coming to Him in total awareness of her need and her inability to meet that need herself. She knew she needed God’s intervention. And she was willing to trust Him with her dream.
The priest thought she was drunk. Eli’s words to Hannah in verse 14 are really harsh. But as soon as she explains what was really happening to him, the whole tone of his attitude toward her shifted.
Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.”1 Samuel 1:17 CSB
And sure enough, a year later, Hannah didn’t make the trek to Shiloh because she was home with baby Samuel. Her song of praise in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 is so beautiful! I love the way she starts …
My heart rejoices in the Lord;1 Samuel 2:1-2 CSB
my horn is lifted up by the Lord.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
because I rejoice in your salvation.
There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no one besides you!
And there is no rock like our God.
When Samuel was weaned, she did exactly as she had promised and brought him to Eli, to live there in Shiloh and serve the Lord alongside the priests.
“Please, my lord,” she said, “as surely as you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this boy, and since the Lord gave me what I asked him for, I now give the boy to the Lord. For as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” Then he worshiped the Lord there.1 Samuel 1:26-28 CSB
Hannah’s prayer was rooted in her faith in the Lord. Her commitment to her promise revealed her faithfulness to the Lord. She prayed with passion and God heard her. He gave her the desires of her heart — because it is clear her desires were rooted in Him, not in herself.
A Lesson for Us
How often are our most passionate prayers driven by God’s purpose for us versus our own plans for ourselves? Hannah wanted a child but knew that baby would be for God’s glory not her own.
As we pray, it is vital that we submit ourselves to the will of God, that we are willing to trust His goodness regardless of His answer. Jesus modeled that for us in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, “Not my will but Thine be done.”As we pray, it is vital that we submit ourselves to the will of God, that we are willing to trust His goodness regardless of His answer. Click To Tweet
A Prayer for Us
Lord, may we pray with fervency and passion and may the desires of our hearts always align with Your plans and purpose. May we be faithful to seek first Your Kingdom and not be focused on building our own little kingdoms. May we have the same heart as Hannah who proclaimed Your goodness and faithfulness and was willing to give back to You every good gift You had given her. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
This post is part of the 20 Women in Scripture You Need to Know series. You can find every post indexed here.