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Pray like Hannah

Updated: Jan 13

Do you know what it's like to pray like Hannah? To agonize in prayer? To cry out in the Lord Almighty's presence, year after year? To keep bringing back to God that one particular request over and over, and then over again? To feel provoked by Satan, the great enemy of the soul, as you long for the desired good thing, the blessing that is still not your reality?


I do. And, quite frankly, as I'm presently communicating these words, there are really no remarkably penned insights I can give. No this-will-always-bring-the-results-you-desire formula I can offer.


The main thing I can say, though, is to keep on keeping on pouring your heart out to the Lord who hears. This is what Hannah did. And she was in good company with so many others we read about in Scripture whose despairing, seemingly hopeless circumstances become different realities when God intervened.


Because there's nothing the Almighty cannot do.


The Bible states that though '[Hannah's] rival kept provoking her. . .year after year" (I Samuel 1:6-7), still Hannah continued to position herself in the Lord's presence to petition the desired outcome that was solely in His power to give.


No matter the time lapse, no matter the questions, no matter the grief of the spirit or despair of the heart, we too, like Hannah, must keep seeking and keep asking and keep waiting until the Lord answers with a definitive no or definitive yes.


Such like action demonstrates dependence.

Such like action demonstrates faith.

 

Though we're not made privy to the totality of Hannah's prayers prayed year after year, we are given the specific declaration of one of them. Words, so it seems, that activated the Lord's favor and the opening of her womb:


"Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. . ." (1:11)


An "if you will. . .then I will" resolve, inferring that Hannah had very possibly experienced a shift during her time of petitioning and waiting, a transition from an internal desire to merely receive the blessing in the natural, to one that could release the blessing for a higher, holy purpose—an eternal plan that would be exceedingly better and farther reaching than the temporary earthly fulfillment she would experience. Her appeal was an acceptance that sometimes the answer to the request long prayed comes at the high cost of humble, obedient sacrifice, a willingness to dedicate back to God, to steward as He desires, the very blessing that He grants.


I believe the story of Hannah and the conception of Samuel, the great prophet and judge of the nation of Israel, reveals that there are times when God is waiting for our earthly desires to line up with His eternal purposes. He's waiting for us to lay it all on the line, to relinquish to Him all of our imagined and hoped for plans, to be willing to sacrificially give back the blessing He chooses to bestow. To essentially say, "Lord, I'm dependent on your remembrance of me for this desire of mine; and if you grant me the reality for which I long and hope, I vow to do my part to steward it for your eternal glory. I vow that the blessing will not solely be about my earthly happiness. It will ultimately be about the good plans of your good heart."


And our all-knowing God knows if we're being serious. He knows whether we'll be selfish, or if we'll be sacrificial.

 

Yes, Hannah persevered, and her consistent petitioning of the Almighty is an example given for our growth as we pray and do our own month-after-month, year-after-year waiting upon the Lord. Additionally, given for an even deeper degree of understanding and maturity are the words of that sincere prayer that moved the heart of the Almighty and shifted her reality.


And, ultimately, altered a nation's reality and played a pivotal part in humanity's.

A much larger, much grander-scale picture than the opening of a woman's womb so that a long-desired, long-awaited child could be born. For the Almighty is always about so much more than our finite minds can consider or imagine. So much more than our smaller-scale desires or plans.


That's just who He is.

 

One final thought:


When Hannah finished pouring her heart out to the Lord, the priest Eli told her to "Go in peace" (17, italics mine). This is how we should leave the place of prayer—the place of His power and presence—whether we're praying for a brief time or a year-after-year duration: in peace.


Great turmoil of spirit is what Hannah was dealing with when she arrived at the sanctuary, but when she departed the petitioning place, that's not how she left. She departed in peace. "[She] went her way and ate something and her face was no longer downcast" (18). Yes, Eli spoke the affirming words, "may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him" (17), but I believe that more than the comfort of Eli's prayerful statement was the supernatural, spiritual impact her sincere transaction with God had made on her that day.


Though it would result in tremendous earthly sacrifice on her part, her continuance to keep on keeping on petitioning the Lord Almighty, partnered with her firm resolve to obedience, brought an uplifted countenance and a presence of peace. And, because God is sovereign, brought an answered prayer: the birth of a son who would become one of the greatest, most dedicated servants in Israel's history, the prophet Samuel—an answer that would encompass way more than just a fulfillment of her heart's great longing.


One that would unfold a much greater, grander plan that would spiritually benefit untold numbers of people—not just in the time in which Hannah lived, but in the ages to follow.


Fellow sojourner, may it be the same for you and for me as we pour out our hearts to the Almighty and pray like Hannah.










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