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Devotion: Hannah’s Prayer

Do you remember the story of Hannah?  Here’s a refresher:  Every year a man and his two wives (Hannah and Peninnah) would go to Shiloh to offer sacrifices and worship the Lord.  Peninnah had several sons and daughters, but Hannah had none.  Peninnah would tease and torment Hannah about her barrenness until Hannah was so upset she couldn’t even eat.  Have you ever felt like that?  All you can think about is that one thing that is bothering you? No matter what things in life are good, your troubles take all your energy and focus.  It’s a crumby place to be.  Hannah’s husband loved her and tried to console her, telling her that there were other things in life to make her happy, not least of which was their relationship. “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” (1 Samuel 1:8)  Hannah took her longing and hurts to the Lord.  She went to the Lord’s temple and poured her heart out to Him in prayer, begging Him to give her a son.  She promised that if He did, she would give her son to the Lord’s service.  I find it interesting that before she even knew how the Lord would answer her prayer, she left the temple with gladness. After she asked the Lord for help she felt the weight of her grief lifted even though her circumstance hadn’t changed and nothing was different–somehow she was different.  Perhaps it was her faith that God had heard her prayer that changed her heart and given her enough hope to continue.  Perhaps God’s answer was to give her peace, or maybe just the knowledge that it was in God’s hands was enough for her.  Either way, Hannah left with a new attitude. “Then she went away and ate something and her face was no longer down cast.”  (1 Samuel 1:18)  What can we learn from faithful Hannah?  Even though her circumstances where rough, she put her hope in the Lord and His ability to change her circumstances, but He did more than that; He changed her.  He lifted the burden of her pain and gave her hope.

1 Samuel says that God remembered Hannah and gave her a son.  In this situation He chose to answer her prayer and grant the desire of her heart.  For the second time, Hannah pours out her heart to the Lord, this time her response to the Lord’s blessing is a beautiful psalm-like prayer.

“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. “There is no one holy like the LORD;  there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. “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. “The bows of the warriors are broken, but those who stumbled are armed with strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for food, but those who were hungry hunger no more.  She who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away. “The LORD brings death and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and raises up. The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes and has them inherit a throne of honor. “For the foundations of the earth are the LORD’s; upon them he has set the world. He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the LORD will be shattered. He will thunder against them from heaven; the LORD will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”  (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

The last words of her prayer; “his anointed” in Greek can be translated “Christos” or Christ.  Could this prayer be a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah?  It sure sounds like it.  Read Luke 1 and you will see many similarities between Mary’s song and Hannah’s.  Hannah didn’t know it at the time, but the suffering and hurt that caused her to pray and promise was used to become a blessing for many.  The son that God granted her was Samuel, a prophet of the Lord that spoke God’s Word to the people.  Her reference to the Lord’s anointed was the first in Bible.  It would be though her son that the Lord would anoint

Israel’s first king, Saul, and it’s greatest king; David.  Hannah’s prayer points us to the ultimate fulfillment of kingship and deliverance for the weak in Christ.  God changed Hannah’s grief into joy for her and for countless others.  God used what was painful and changed it into something amazing.  I wonder if Hannah ever knew

Like Hannah we can bring our every sorrow to God in prayer and trust that He hears us.  Perhaps He will change our circumstances; He is able to do it if it is His will.  Perhaps He will change us.  He can use our pain and work through our suffering to bring glory to His name and blessings to others.  We don’t always know how God will answer our prayers, but we can trust Him.  He has more planed for us than we ever expected!

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