Grab your Bibles, and let’s go deeper into the life of Hannah.
1 Samuel 1:1–2:12 testifies of the story of Hannah.
Hannah was a godly woman married to Elkanah the Ephraimite. For several years of her marriage, she was unable to conceive any children. This was a big deal in this culture and time, and the Scriptures tell us that she was mocked heavily for being barren. While this surely was hard to endure, in addition to not having the great blessing of bearing a child, she remained faithful to worship and pray to God. Each year, she would go up to Shiloh with her family, and on one of those occasions, we are let into Hannah’s fervent prayer for a son and her pledge to dedicate him to the Lord, should she bear one.
Hannah gives us three important areas we should be practicing in our prayer life. I want to highlight these today and encourage you to look to grow in each of them in your prayer life.
Do you share Hannah’s practice of faithful and constant prayer, instead of giving up when your circumstances are not going your way?
Matthew 7:7 (NLT, 1996) “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened.”
Do you see the true value and importance of prayer? How powerful is it to you?
Let me ask you: How often do you pray? This is a sign of how powerful you believe prayer is.
To teach us the need for constant prayer, Jesus told this story in Luke 18:
Luke 18:1-8 (NLT,1996) One day Jesus told his disciples a story to illustrate their need for constant prayer and to show them that they must never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who was a godless man with great contempt for everyone. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, appealing for justice against someone who had harmed her. The judge ignored her for a while, but eventually she wore him out. ‘I fear neither God nor man,’ he said to himself, ‘but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this evil judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end, so don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who plead with him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when I, the Son of Man, return, how many will I find who have faith?”
If you know something is in God’s will, keep praying. Do not lose heart. Keep interceding. Keep going to Him, the source.
When you do this, it will:
- Keep hope alive! When you stop praying, it is a great sign you have lost hope in that situation.
- It will maintain a willingness in you to be led by Him in His timing. When you stop praying, you believe you have learned all there is to learn, or that God is not able, or willing, to move in the situation.
- It will guard your heart from sin. When you are going to God, you are not looking to something else to be the source or the answer. For example, if you are single and you are praying for a godly spouse, keep praying; as you pray in God’s will for the godly person He is preparing for you, you are constantly reminded of the kind of godly person God longs for you to be one with. When you do not do this, in sin you forget; you compromise; you begin to look for answers on your own—in your timing, in your power, and by your discernment.
If we truly understood prayer’s power and how important it is, then we wouldn’t pray just once for something, but all the time. In some ways, it’s our constant submission that is more important than what we are asking for! If we learn this, we won’t pray just when it gets too hard but when we begin, during, and after.
Now, back to Hannah: God heard her prayer, had mercy on her, and gave her the child she requested (1:1–20).
Not only do we see that Hannah prayed for what she desired from the Lord, but also, she that thanked Him for giving it to her.
God’s word is clear that we are to be thankful to God, and this should be a regular part of our prayer life. Thanksgiving Prayer expresses gratitude and thanks to God for what He has done and is doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
Psalm 7:17 (NLT) I will thank the Lord because he is just …
Psalm 30:12 … Oh Lord my God, I will give you thanks to you forever!
Psalm 95:2 NIV Let us come before him with thanksgiving …
Acts 13:48 NLT … they were very glad and thanked the Lord for his message …
What we see is an incredible prayer that is focused not only on God’s goodness in the specific instance of giving Samuel to her, but also on the mercies of the Lord for the entire nation of Israel. Her prayer celebrates the sovereignty of our Creator in making Hannah’s barren womb fruitful, and it looks for God to give strength to the king who is not yet on the throne of the nation. Hannah saw in the answer to her prayer a sign of the Lord’s grace on the entire community and she thanked Him accordingly. We should have a similar focus in our prayers. It is very easy to get so focused on our needs that we ignore the needs of the body of Christ and others around us. When God blesses us, it is appropriate to thank Him and to look for how that blessing might be shared with the Lord’s people as well.
Hannah asked for Samuel with an eye toward giving him over to serve God and prepare the way for Israel’s king (1 Samuel 9:16), and we, too, should intercede with an eye toward how the answer might be used to extend His kingdom. Our prayer is truly to be selfless and openhanded. We need to practice prayer that takes into account the needs of God’s people.
We need to practice yielding to God the things to which we are prone to hold too tightly.
Jesus modeled this for us in the Garden of Gethsemane! He did not “want” to be mocked, beaten, have his flesh torn off, and suffer a slow death on a criminal’s cross, but rather than demanding his way, he prayed, “… Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) This is a yielding prayer. This is yielding to God who knows best.
If you stop and think about it, we should always want God’s will over our own, because our will is desperately selfish and, many times, driven by sinful desires or motivations. Also, God has a better perspective on what’s ahead than we do. Why would we not trust in His holy will and better view for our lives?
The question is: Do you truly want what God wants or are you just saying that?
I pray that Hannah’s faithfulness in prayer is a great encouragement and reminder to you.
She was faithful to ask and to bring her request to God.
She was faithful to thank God for His response and hand in her life.
She was faithful to yield to God what He had entrusted to her to be used ultimately for His purposes and will.
I have always enjoyed considering the acronym for the word PRAY as a great reminder of these things.
- Praise: Praise and thank God! It is not about you, but all about God and who He is!
- Repent: Confess sin and change your practice. Thank Him that you are forgiven. Experience renewal!
- Ask: Ask God, earnestly, about all your needs and let Him know your concerns.
- Yield: Leave it in God’s hands! Trust His deliverance and timing and want for His will to be done.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC