In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. (1 Samuel 1:10, NIV)
The example of the widow’s petition is a very hopeful message to us. After we pray once or twice, we may be disappointed or stop praying because of the thought that God is not responding to our prayers or giving us what we thought. However, it is not that God does not listen to our prayer. God responds in the best time and the best way. We judge with what we see now at present, but God judges beyond time and space. His wisdom is higher than heaven, and He knows what is best for us.
God responds with the best answer in His way in His time.
We will realize that God would have given us the best answer. Then, we will admire His providence and glorify the Lord.
In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah, the prophet Samuel’s mother, was a person of faith who glorified God after praying and gaining what she asked for. Elkanah, who was Hannah’s husband and a descendant of Levi, was faithful, so he went to Shiloh every year to worship the Lord. However, Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who had children with Elkanah, while Hannah had no child. Hannah could not get pregnant because God had closed her womb. Elkanah loved Hannah much more than he did Peninnah. The expression of his love was especially apparent when distributing the remaining meat after the worship was over. Elkanah gave some of it to Peninnah and her children but a double portion to Hannah. This situation deteriorated the relationship between Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah was forced to become jealous because she saw Elkanah love Hannah more. It was clear what Peninnah could do to Hannah, who had no child with Elkanah. She began to despise Hannah for not being able to conceive and said that God did not care for her. Whenever Peninnah felt that Elkanah loved Hannah more, she made Hannah feel miserable. Especially in the place where the whole family gathered, Peninnah let Elkanah hug the children and stroked their heads. Also, Peninnah boastfully laughed in front of Hannah.
Hannah was provoked and wept. The fact that she could not get pregnant was too painful, but Peninnah’s disdain was far more unbearable. It was repeated every year, so the season of the worship when the whole family should gather became the most disliked time. Hannah shuddered at the thought of Peninnah’s boasting about the children and mocking her. However, her most fearful season came back again. The whole family went to Shiloh for the worship. Then, what Hannah was concerned about happened again. Elkanah gave Hannah a double piece of the meat again before Peninnah, and jealous Peninnah mentioned Hannah’s inability to conceive, like before. Peninnah’s mockery was even worse than usual and thrust into Hannah’s heart deeply. It was so irritating and painful that she did not want to do anything. She also lost her appetite and did not eat anything. All the situations just seemed bleak, and she kept on crying. Nothing could comfort her. She even hated her husband, Elkanah, who gave her more meat before her rival. Then, Elkanah came and began to comfort Hannah. “Why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Am I not more precious to you than ten sons?”
Thanks to her husband’s solicitation, she ate a little and decided to speak about her matter to the Lord. She immediately went to the Lord’s temple to pray. The priest Eli was sitting there. Hannah fell on her knees and put down her trouble before God. In bitterness of soul, she wept for a long time and prayed to the Lord. Her prayer was very eager. She knew that only God could solve her pain. She sighed deeply and earnestly said to God, “My Lord Almighty, if you look upon my affliction and remember me, and not forget your servant, but give me a son!” She told God what she exactly wanted. Her desperation made her vow, “Then, I will give him to the Lord for his lifetime, and I will never use a razor on his head.” Hannah’s situation was so desperate that she pledged this to God. While Hannah was praying in her heart, Eli observed her mouth. He thought that she was drunk because only her lips were moving without any voice. Eli rebuked Hannah for too much drinking and said to get rid of her wine. Hannah answered that she was praying in trouble, and Eli resolved his misunderstanding. Eli blessed and comforted her by saying, “Go in peace, and may God grant you what you have prayed for.”
Hannah’s heart became much lighter than before because she gave her heavy burdens to God. The previous anxieties disappeared, and her appetite recovered. She began to eat and drink like before. She did not get pregnant just after praying, but she began to have hope, as she had left all her worries to the Lord. There was no reason to be obsessed with the problem any longer. She knew that worry would not have any effect on the outcome of the problem. Just by praying to God, Hannah gained peace in her heart and expected God’s response.
One day, Elkanah laid with Hannah, and soon she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. The Lord remembered her and heard her wailing. He knew her broken heart and finally responded as she had asked. Hannah was very happy and deeply affected by God’s response. She thanked the Lord and named her son Samuel, which means “I asked the Lord for him.” Hannah’s mind was greatly restored. She had no reason to be provoked by Peninnah’s ridicule anymore. She just thanked God for everything. Hannah sincerely raised her son, Samuel. At the time Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him to the Lord’s temple with an offering of thanksgiving to keep her vow. She gave him to the Lord through Eli and said, “For his whole life, he will be given over to the Lord.”
Hannah got Samuel in prayer.
She poured out her suffering to God in her prayer and had peace of heart. At last, she received what she asked for of the Lord. She thanked God and kept her vow by entrusting Samuel to Him through Eli. Hannah highly praised the Lord God, who listened to her and had taken care of her. Also, she glorified God by making a song and poem of joy. Elkanah and Hannah went up to the temple to worship God, and they met Samuel every year. Eli blessed her family and said, “May the heavenly Father give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to God.” Then, God gave Hannah more considerable grace, and Hannah conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.
Samuel was an important person in the flow of the history governed by God. He was the last judge of Israel, a prophet, and a priest. Samuel anointed Saul, Israel’s first king, and David, the greatest king of Israel. He brilliantly played the role of the bridge for Israel’s transition from the days of the judges to the generation of the monarchy. Hannah’s suffering was eventually God’s invitation to blessing, and Hannah went to the place of prayer and received God’s response. The Lord finally accomplished His will through Hannah’s prayer.
It is no exaggeration to say that the successes of life depend on our prayer.
Therefore, we should strive hard to pray with a challenging mind by using every opportunity. Prayer is the only way to communicate with the Lord, and we can experience His working only through prayer.