Scripture: I Samuel 1:10-18; 2:1-3
10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly. 11 And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on 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.”
12 As she kept on praying to the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
15 “Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”
17 Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Chapter Two 1 Then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the LORD; in the LORD my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. 2 “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3 “Do not keep talking so proudly or let your mouth speak such arrogance, for the LORD is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed.
Here is yet another fervent prayer from a humble servant of God. In the first passage we read of a barren Hannah pouring out her heart to the Lord. These were dark days in Israel with the nation adrift. Eli was the old priest and evidently didn’t recognize passionate godly prayer when he saw or heard it! Apparently, he had seen, (and experienced?), a fair amount of drunkenness. His boys were not shining examples of integrity or godliness, quite the opposite. At any rate, Eli blessed Hannah and asked God to grant her request. God did and she became pregnant with her son Samuel, who became one of the most gifted and significant leaders in Israel’s history ushering in the first monarchy with King Saul and bringing vital spiritual leadership as prophet and fulfilled some priestly duties. Hannah followed through on her promise and gave Samuel to serve in the Temple with Eli.
The second portion of Scripture above is Hannah’s song and prayer of gratitude to the Lord for answering her prayer after she brought little Samuel to Shiloh, the place of worship at that time. You’ll notice there are a great many similarities to Mary’s song, the Magnificat, (Luke 1:46-55).
(You may want to refer to the Advent devotional on December 21, 2022 for a fuller discussion of the similarities.)
What do you see or notice in Hannah’s character, in her person as relates to her prayer? She did not pray passively! Look at the words: deep anguish, bitter weeping. She was broken hearted and in misery! She “kept on praying;” she was persistent over many years. She was praying in her heart, almost in groans too deep for words? She was “pouring out her soul” to the Lord. She was praying out of great anguish and grief. With Eli’s words, “Go in peace. May God grant your request,” she rejoiced and praised God before she had conceived. She believed God. Hannah was a zealous prayer in her lifetime and a marvelous prayer mentor for us. There was nothing passive in her expressing her heart.
Music: “The Lord’s Prayer” Andre Bocelli and Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Prayer: Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, “Speak, for thy servant heareth.” Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy Voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking Voice. Amen.
–AW Tozer, from The Pursuit of God, p.83