Meet Hannah, a woman who wept as she prayed for a child (1:10). Deep in anguish, her lips moved but her voice was unheard (1:13). Praying at the temple, Hannah was so focused that she lost track of how she must have looked to those around her. The priest mistakenly assumed that she was drunk (1:14). All she could think of was her prayer.
What desires in your life move you to “pour out your soul to God” (1:15)? Desires for healing, for you or someone you love? For a change in a relationship? For others to value you and treat you with honor? For a chance to use your talents and follow your passions? For safety and security?
Hannah’s prayer was all of these things. In her time and place, a barren woman’s prayer for a child was a prayer not only for healing, but also a prayer to strengthen her ties to her husband, to be treated with respect in her community, to be able to put her talents and passions to use in the household, and to have safety and security in old age and widowhood when her adult sons would provide for her and protect her.
Perhaps you hesitate to pray your desires for healing, for relationships, for worth in your community, for a place to use your talents with joy, or for safety and security. Perhaps you wonder if prayer should be reserved for so-called “spiritual things.” But Hannah prayed her prayers of desire, and they were not “too small” or “too earthly” for God.
Hannah prayed these desires of her heart—and she did so in a spirit of surrender. When the LORD remembered her (1:20) and granted what she asked of him (1:27), Hannah gave her son Samuel over to the LORD:
“I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD.” (1:27-28)
When God satisfied Hannah’s desires, she entrusted them back to God. How could someone who prayed in anguish for a child now offer a prayer of praise in giving her son back to the LORD? Hannah’s prayer (I Samuel 2:1-10) has much to teach us about God and who he is.
The LORD is the one who gives deliverance (2:1). He is holy, and none is like him (2:2). He is the God who can provide strength for the weak (2:4), food for the hungry (2:5), children for the barren (2:5).
How marvelous that the same God who is maker of heaven and earth “remains faithful forever” (Psalm 146:5-10) and invites us to come to him as Father, asking him for “good gifts” (Matthew 7:7-12). Who better to ask for what we need and desire?
Have you heard the saying “Never take a ‘no’ from someone who can’t tell you ‘yes’”? My dad reminded me of this when I was a college student looking for my first job. He was telling me to make sure that I brought my desires to the right people—those who had the final authority to make decisions about requests to work for them.
The desires of our hearts also need to be brought to the right place—to the One who is truly able to say “yes,” as well as to change our hearts when our desires are out of line with his will (Psalm 51). Our sovereign God is the ultimate decision-maker, as Hannah acknowledges in her prayer:
“The Lord brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them he has set the world. (2:6-8)
We can trust him with our desires, “for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed” (2:3). Let’s pour out our souls to him today.