Do you ever
feel that there is no one to hear your prayers? Tears stain your pillow at night. A sense
of longing follows you wherever you go. Feelings of anxiety rise up within you as you
wonder how you will make it through another day.
Hannah would understand your plight. She knew what it felt like to cry out to God. In the Old Testament, the one mark of womanhood was childbirth. Yet Hannah's womb remained "closed." The greatest joy her heart could conceive was left unanswered. Hannah remained childless.
Her husband, Elkanah, loved her greatly and did not look on her with disgrace. In fact, the Bible tells us his love for Hannah was greater than for any son she longed to have. (1 Samuel 1:8) Surely, the faithful love of Elkanah gave Hannah a strong sense of security, but even this could not satisfy the vast void within her life. Only God had the power to answer her prayers.
Of all Hannah's godly qualities, her dedication to prayer and faith in God stand out as immovable testimonies. When most would become angry and bitter, Hannah remained open to God's mercy and was prayerful before Him. She did not become frozen emotionally or trapped in thoughts of fear and anger. Instead, she refused to let her situation stop her from believing and reaching out to the Lord. She continued to lift her needs up to God in prayer as she sought His wisdom and intervention.
At certain points in life, God may call you to wait for His answer to your prayers. Many times He does this, not to punish, but to check the level of your faith. Nothing so tests the heart as waiting for God to move in a certain situation. The very posture of waiting requires us to be willing to rest and trust the Lord.
When prayer goes unanswered over an extended period of time, the temptation to withdraw and wonder if somehow you have displeased God becomes great. Don't allow the time spent waiting for God's intervention to become clouded with doubts and fears.
God always answers prayer. He may do so differently than how you had planned, or He may answer your request just as you have prayed. Regardless of the way and timing, the greater lesson we can learn through prayer centers on God's sovereignty. God had a plan in mind for Hannah and her soon-to-be conceived son. While Hannah's sorrow and disappointment were evident, her determination was even greater.
Hannah dared to believe that God would take notice of her and answer her prayers. She prays in 1 Samuel: "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head" (v. 1:11).
Hannah was fully committed to God, and He answered her prayers. When Samuel was born, she kept her vow to the Lord. Once he was weaned, she dedicated him to God's service in the temple. It is hard to imagine letting go of a child, especially when he is very young. The only way Hannah could do this was in light of her love for and faith in God.
If God is not the central focus of your life, then, when trying times come, you will have difficulty letting Him take control of the situation. The key to surviving and thriving in times of stress and heartache is total dependence on Him.
He perfectly understood Hannah's desires. He created her and placed within her certain longings that, ultimately, would bring glory and honor to Himself.
Samuel became one of Israel's greatest prophets. Under his ministry, God chose to anoint David as future king. A thread of whole-hearted dedication to God was woven throughout Samuel's life. He was not drawn aside by earthly treasures or in rubbing shoulders with men of prominence. On these points, Samuel watched others fall, but he remained true to the calling placed on him at his birth.
He was truly one who could say: "Speak, for Your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10). Yet Samuel did not get to this point of devotion by himself. It was the dedication and love of a godly mother that paved the way. As a parent, your devotion to God carries a tremendous potential for good in the life of your child.
Hannah was a woman who was mighty in spirit. She trusted God for what seemed to be impossible, and He delivered a mighty miracle. Her heart was unashamedly set on the ways of the Lordsomething she was not afraid to pass on to her son, Samuel.