Prayers of the Old Testament
The Prayer of Hannah continued...
Although this entire series is about prayer, from what it is, to learning from those who came before us and their prayer lives, when there are practical lessons we can learn and teachable moments we can grow from in the life of one of these biblical figures, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight it and mention it, if only in passing.
One of the most powerful lessons we can glean from the life of Hannah is that in our time of grief, of sadness, of desperation and hopelessness, we ought to run to God.
When trials descend, far too many believers have the tendency to withdraw themselves from among the children of God, to stop coming to the house of the Lord, and be on their own, by themselves, growing in their depression due to their isolation, and waxing worse.
The house of the Lord and the people of God aren’t there just for the good times. The household of faith isn’t there just for the potlucks and birthday parties, it is a family, one body, which feels with the hurt and sadness of its members and helps in times of need and desperation. At least that’s how it ought to be, and how Christ intended His church to be.
If you are hurting, if you are sorrowful, if trials abound in your life and you have no support or comfort from those you would call your brothers and sisters in Christ, then perhaps you should seek another church body, another fellowship which understands the true meaning of being one in Christ.
It is dangerous and self-destructive to withdraw and isolate ourselves when hurt threatens to overwhelm us. Even though it is dangerous, it is nevertheless what many of us are predisposed to doing.
Both when my grandfather and my mother passed away, my reaction was to withdraw and isolate myself from everyone else and mourn alone. I continued in this manner until my wife came to me one day and said, ‘you know everyone’s feeling loss, and mourning just as much as you are. Perhaps it would be a good thing for everyone to be together during such a time.’
It was hard. I had to physically drag myself out of my apartment and go be with the rest of my family, almost against my will, but after a few hugs and a few tears, and a lengthy conversation I realized the wisdom of my wife’s words.
Hannah knew the house of the Lord was the place to be when everything was going wrong and when sorrow overflows. Though she wept, she wept before God, and prayed for resolution.
Pain and sorrow compel us to pray, and if they do not bring us to our knees, if they do not cause us to seek the face of God, nothing else will.
Hannah understood the true meaning of prayer. She understood that true prayer was the pouring out of one’s soul before the Lord, and these are the exact words she used when explaining to Eli what it was she had been doing.
When we pour our soul out to the Lord, we hold nothing back. We can’t be selective as to what we pour out to the Lord when we pour our soul out to him. When we try to hold things back, we are as successful as trying to pour ice water into a glass without getting any of the ice cubes to spill over the edge. Tip the pitcher at enough of an angle, and everything will pour out, ice cubes and all.
Hannah had no one else to pour her heart out to but the Lord. Her husband didn’t understand her pain, her husband’s other wife was the source of her pain, and the priest thought she was drunk…but Hannah still had the Lord.
No matter where you are, even though you might be far away from family and friends, even though you might be far removed from those you know, you can still go to the Lord, you can still pour out your soul to Him, and He will hear you.
All Hannah was doing was moving her lips. Her voice was not heard, for she was speaking in her heart, and still pouring her soul out to the Lord. Eli, having been a priest of the temple for many years, still found this behavior odd, so much so that he assumed Hannah was drunk, and this is why she could not speak the words she desired to speak.
Not everybody pours their soul out in the same manner. Some do so using words, some speak with the heart; some shed tears, others don’t; some come before God with groaning, while others just fall on their face before Him.
There is no wrong way to pour your soul out before the Lord!
No one on earth heard Hannah’s cry, for it was a cry of the heart, but God in heaven did. The purpose of our prayers is not to be seen or heard by men. It is to be heard of God. So often we hear well-tailored prayers being prayed in churches, prayers from which the passion and emotion has been long removed, because they are prayers intended to impress, and not prayers intended to touch the heart of God.
Be as Hannah in your prayers. Do not pray with the hope or expectation of being heard by anyone else, except for God. Do not pray to impress, do not pray to draw attention to how poetically you petition God, pour your soul out before the Lord, and He will hear and answer your pleas.
Hannah was unconcerned as to who might be watching her, or seeing her cry out to the Lord. She was unconcerned as to the image she was projecting, or what others might think of her. It was her, and God, and all that mattered was that God was listening.
With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.