Day 13 I Samuel 1:1-20
Prayer is meant to be two-way communication with God. Our hope is that, as we speak to Him, God in turn will speak to us. We look forward to times when, interspersed with readings in the Bible, we feel as though we are having an actual conversation with God and there are occasions when this is undeniably true. However, there are other times when we may feel as though we’re doing all the talking and we’re not really sure that God is listening.
In I Samuel 1, we are introduced to Hannah, a woman who shares her husband with another woman. The second wife had sons and daughters while Hannah was barren. For years, Hannah waited and for years she was left without a son or daughter. One year, when Hannah accompanied her husband Elkanah and his other wife and children to Shiloh where they would offer their sacrifices to the Lord, Hannah cried out to God in her anguish.
“O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon 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, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (I Samuel 1:11).
We can see four specific things in Hannah’s prayer. First, she asks the Lord to see her. It is as if she is saying, “I feel like you are overlooking me, God. Please look at me!” If you have ever prayed for something over a long period of time and received no answer, you can relate to how Hannah must have felt. She wasn’t disrespectful in her prayer. She was forthright and honest and God approves of us approaching Him this way.
Hannah didn’t just ask the Lord to look at her though. She also asked Him to remember her and what she was going through. It’s good for us to remember, especially at times when we feel God has forgotten us, that the Lord knows everything about us and never forgets us. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” by Him and He always knows our circumstances. As Hannah asks the Lord to remember her, it also reminded her of His awareness and mercy. When we pray a similar prayer, we also can be reminded of this.
Hannah then asks the Lord to give her a son. I am sure she has uttered these words many times before. It was the desire of her heart, what she wanted more than anything else. That is why she had reached a point of sorrow. We need to see in Hannah that we, too, can keep asking. In Matthew 7:7, when Jesus told his followers to ““Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you,” the verb form indicates that it is continuous. In other words, “Ask and keep asking…seek and keep seeking…knock and keep knocking.” God is not offended when we continue to pray for the same thing. Neither should we become discouraged and give up praying. Even if we have reached a point of near desperation as Hannah had, we should keep asking.
The fourth aspect of Hannah’s prayer, however, is the key. Hannah tells the Lord that if he gives her a son, she will give Him back to the Lord. Many have looked at this as Hannah bargaining with God. However, what Hannah was doing was surrendering fully to God and His will. When she says, “If you will look at me, remember my situation and give me a son,” Hannah was saying, “Lord, I confess that it is totally up to you what will happen. If you decide to do this, I want you to know that I surrender to your will and everything that matters to me is yours – including the son for which I am praying.” So, the fourth aspect of Hannah’s prayer is submission to God.
When we are going through tough times and are feeling bitter and sorrowful, it is easy to turn away from God and think that He doesn’t care. However, we don’t see the entire picture as God does and cannot know all the circumstances. We cannot see why He either doesn’t give us what we ask or at least not in the time frame we ask. But if we can come to a place where we will surrender the situation entirely to God and submit to His will, trusting Him, we can find solace and relief from the bitterness and pain. If God chooses to give us what we desired then, we are able to hold it loosely in our hands knowing that we have already given it back to God.