Jack Hyles Library Exploring Prayer

by Beth Payton

The story of Hannah is a wonderful lesson for us ladies to learn as mothers regarding our children. Hannah desperately wanted children, but she had none. When she asked God for a son, God answered her prayer. As soon as the child was weaned, Hannah kept her promise and gave her son back to the Lord. How bittersweet it must have been for Hannah to wait so long to finally have a son and then have to give him back to the Lord!

Would it really be worth it for Hannah to keep her promise?

We see in the book of I Samuel that Hannah was one of Elkanah’s two wives. Of the two wives, Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. In this culture it was frowned upon for women to be barren or for them to be unable to bear a son. Hannah was in a desperate time in her life. When the Elkanah family went to the temple for a sacrifice, the Bible says in I Samuel 1:4-5, “And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.” The Bible shows us that Hannah had a need in her life—she had a desire for the Lord to open her womb and bless her with a son! She did not go seeking the answer to her need anywhere but to the Lord, for she knew He alone could meet her needs.

How are we handling the needs that we have in our lives regarding our children or our desire to have children? We should not be taking our problems to those who can do nothing for us. It is good to depend on our husbands in time of trouble, and it is okay to seek help from our friends; but in the end, no one can do what God can do. He alone can meet our needs, and we should be seeking the Lord’s guidance and assistance in our times of need. Hannah went to the temple and prayed to seek God’s help in giving her a son.

Have we gone to the Lord in prayer for the thing that we need in our lives?

God is waiting to hear from us; and even if He does not answer right away, great joy will come from patiently waiting on the One Who is able to supply our every need.

Imagine what Hannah must have looked like— having not eaten, not slept, and constantly crying. She probably looked like a mess! When Hannah went to the temple to pray, she was so heavy-hearted that she wept and prayed with her lips moving, but no words coming out of her mouth. The priest, Eli, saw her in her disheveled state and mumbling at the altar and supposed she was drunken. But, Hannah was not drunk; she was praying and making a vow to God which we find in I Samuel 1:11, “…O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look upon the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life,…” Notice that Hannah called herself the Lord’s “handmaid” three times in this prayer. She wanted to remind the Lord over and over that she was His servant, and His servant had a need in her life.

Eli came and confronted Hannah about what he perceived to be her drunkenness in the house of the Lord, and Hannah was faced with a great test. She could have fallen apart, yelled at the priest, and corrected him in front of everyone saying, “How dare you! I am not drunk! I am praying!” Instead, Hannah very humbly admitted that she was barren, in distress, and begging the Lord for a son. She passed the test! Because she passed this test, the Lord would give her a blessing she could hardly believe. Eli told her to “…Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.” (I Samuel 1:17)

When we ladies go through hard times, it is easy to take out our problems on someone else who may not understand our situation.

When we ladies go through hard times, it is easy to take out our problems on someone else who may not understand our situation. We must be keepers of our spirits as Hannah was a keeper of her spirit in the face of adversity. There may be someone who misunderstands us or accuses us of “not being ourselves” when we are bearing a heavy load. This is not the time to explode and take out our grief on someone else. This is a time to humbly seek God’s grace to help us through our trial in our lives. When Hannah was falsely accused, she humbly answered. When we are falsely accused, may we react in the same manner as Hannah— in humility.

What an exciting time it must have been for Hannah as she conceived and bore a son and named him Samuel! She finally had received her heart’s desire— a son! Now would come the next great test in Hannah’s life. Would she keep her promise? After all she had endured up until this point, no one would blame her for deciding to keep Samuel all to herself. Hannah would not be one to break her promise. She kept Samuel only until he was weaned and then brought him back to the temple to serve the Lord with his life for the rest of his days. I Samuel 1:27-28 shows Hannah keeping her promise when the Bible says, “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD.…

What promises have we ladies made to God that we are not keeping? We should examine our hearts and make sure that we ladies have made God a promise to raise our children to serve Him as long as they live. It would be so selfish of us to think that we, in all our motherly wisdom, know more about what our children should do with their lives than what God knows about what they should do with their lives. There could be no greater joy than to see our children serving the Lord with their lives the way that Hannah was able to see her son serve the Lord with his life. Certainly, Hannah was grateful for the rest of her life that she had kept her promise. Likewise, we would be grateful if we would promise our children to the Lord and keep our promise.

The story of Hannah is a great reminder that when God gives us something, the safest thing for us to do with it is to give it right back to Him. Hannah realized that if she asked God for a son and He gave her this request, the safest place for him to be raised was under the protection of the house of the Lord. When we make God a promise, He expects us to keep our promise. Hannah did not go back on her promise even though it may have been very hard for her to keep it. May we learn this great lesson from Hannah’s life:

Giving God our all is the safest place for our all to be!

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