DEVOTIONAL DAY 7 – PRAY FOR YOURSELF
In her deep anguish, Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. 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.” As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.” “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. Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” 1 Samuel 1:9-18 NIV.
Hanna was a deeply troubled woman who had a desire that wasn’t met. She wanted a son but she was barren. As if that was not enough, she also had a rival – her husband’s other wife, Peninnah who bore many children for her husband, and also preyed on Hanna’s misery. The Bible says that Peninnah would provoke Hanna bitterly just to irritate her, making fun of her because she couldn’t have children.
Year after year Hanna’s husband went up to the mountain to offer sacrifices to the Lord for his wives and children. But for Hanna, he would give a double portion of the sacrifice because of her condition and because he loved her so deeply.
You would think that God would look at this sacrifice and bless Hanna. But for so many years, nothing happened.
Many people in Hanna’s situation would probably give up on trying. They may see no point in doing it. Hanna could have settled and thought, “My husband loves me so much and he says he doesn’t care about my having no children… My husband’s love is enough for me (verse 8: Then Elkanah her husband said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”)… so why worry?”.
But no… not Hanna. She was a different kind of woman who knew what she wanted. She wouldn’t rest and she would not find peace until she got it. But, she had to come to a realization that sometimes we can’t depend on other people’s prayers and sacrifices to get what we need.
It’s great when people pray for us. But no one can ever fully understand the emptiness and desire for something that you feel deep inside your heart beside you. So you are the best person to present your request to God. You can connect with God in a way that no one else can for you.
You may think, I don’t know what to say when I am praying. I am too sad, angry or sick to pray. Hanna was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk.
Just like Hannah, it’s not so much what you say: God knows what you feel and need – but it is that desire to connect and be completely vulnerable to God that makes a difference. It is the way that you express to Him your need and desire to be heard by no one else but Him.
When she left the Temple, Hanna went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. She still wasn’t pregnant at the time; she didn’t have yet what she was praying for. But she felt better.
This is because when we pray for ourselves we receive comfort; Our faith is renewed and God gives us the assurance through prayer that He is present even in the midst of our problems. From my own experience, I believe that it is impossible to leave a place of prayer and still feel sad and depressed – if you completely open up and let the power of the Holy Spirit in.
God heard Hanna’s prayer and had compassion on her. Soon after her prayer, she became pregnant and had a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.”