Hannah isn’t mentioned a lot in the Bible but her story is very important because although its brief there are a lot of important lessons we can learn from her.
Hannah is one of two wives married to Elkanah. Penninah, Elkanah’s other wife is able to have children while Hannah is unable to. Now in Jewish culture, a woman’s value was heavily tied to their ability to bear children, especially males because the family lineage was passed on through male children.
To make matters worse, her rival would basically mock her every time she was at church because of her inability to have children.
So as you can imagine, Hannah was heart broken. The Bible describes how she went days weeping and choosing not to eat. I want you to really picture this scene. Can you imagine the humility and shame Hannah must have felt? I mean, she couldn’t even attend church of all places without being ridiculed!
So what did Hannah do?
Hannah got on her knees every day and prayed about it. In 1 Samuel 1:15 she talks to Eli the priest about how she has been praying out of deep angst.
According to Merriam dictionary,
Angst is a strong feeling about being worried or nervous.
Hannah no doubt was praying with all of her heart. She was feeling worried all day about it but yet, God still didn’t give her a child right away. Why?
My guess is that it was because she was praying for the wrong reasons. Although Hannah desperately wanted a child, she was praying for her needs not Gods will.
She was also likely praying that God would give her a child so she wouldn’t be humiliated every time she went to church or have to be subjected to the shame she must have experienced from all of the gossip that surely surrounded her.
In other words, she was also motivated to pray in order to have God remove the painful situation she was in…sound familiar?
God eventually gives Hannah a child and in 1 Samuel 1:20, Hannah names her child Samuel saying “Because I asked the Lord for Him.”
Before I explain some important things we can learn from her story I want to ask you a question,
Do you think prayer actually works?
We talk a lot about praying as Christians but the honest truth is that the reason why so many Christians don’t pray enough is because they don’t even think it works.
Why do we drink water? Its a simple question with an obvious answer and we never hesitate to miss drinking water each day. However, when it comes to our spiritual life and prayer, well, thats an entirely different story.
I just want to bluntly say that if you don’t believe prayer works than you need to get that straight before you do anything else. I too wasn’t entirely convinced that prayer works until I “tried it out” and God ended up answering me through it.
I urge you to do the same if your having doubts whether prayer works or not.
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest lets get back to Hannah’s story.
Here are 3 important things we can learn about Hannah’s prayer life.
1) Pray With All Of Your Heart.
Hannah probably didn’t pray for exactly the right reasons early on but one thing she did do right was she prayed with all of her heart. I mean, the Bible talks about how she prayed with deep angst, getting down on her knees, giving all of herself into prayer.
It reminded me a lot of David in Psalms and how you could really feel the cries and emotion in his prayers.
When is the last time you’ve prayed like that?
We can’t be these passive, unemotional, dry, routine prayer robots. We need to reinvigorate our prayer life and pray like God will answer our prayers at any moment!
2) Pray For The Right Reasons.
Hannah was diligent in her prayer life but she likely was praying to have her needs met more than anything. We have to understand that our prayer life isn’t about us, its about God. I think Hannah’s attitude and subsequently her prayer life gradually changed from, “God, please give me a baby so I don’t have to experience the pain and humiliation.” or “God, I want a child so badly for myself.”
Instead her prayers changed to, “God, you know the deep desire I have for a child, you have seen the pain I am experiencing because of this. Despite all of this though, I pray that if you do give me a child I will have it to glorify you. I know that what you think about me is far more important then what others say or do to me.”
My guess is that God gave her a child when her heart and prayers aligned more with God. In the same way, make sure that your prayers are ultimately for God and not for your own selfish reasons.
3) Be Patient And Realize That God May Take Awhile To Answer Your Prayer.
Its not entirely evident how long it took before God gave Hannah Samuel. We do know however that it took a very long time at least in human terms.
Understand that whatever you are praying about may not be answered for a long time. I know thats frustrating to hear but its the truth. However, even though God may not answer your prayer right away, He is still with you, He is still guiding you every step of the way, and His love for you is never ending.
In summary, Hannah’s story is one that we can easily identify with. Her pain and struggles, being humiliated, waiting a long time for an answer to a specific prayer, and her deep desire over something she really wanted and prayed for. I hope today that you can learn from Hannah’s story and how a reevaluation of your prayer life might be the very thing blocking God’s blessings upon your life.
What has Hannah’s story taught you?