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Hannah Part 3: Teach ‘Em Young

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Welcome back to Hannah’s story!

We’ve seen her cry and pour out her heart and heart’s desires to the Heavenly Father.  And then, she had found peace. Her heart still ached for the child she did not have, but “she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.” (1 Samuel 1: 18)  After we cast our cares upon the Lord, even without a definite answer or direction, we can find peace and assurance in our loving God, knowing that He’s heard our cries and prayers and has everything in his hands. In the midst of a storm, we might not always understand the peace within, but we can rest in it nonetheless.  Isn’t that a blessing?

Remember this when you pray, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (Jas 5:16.) Prayer is powerful. And effective. Powerful. Effective. With the right heart and attitude, prayer brings peace. And prayer is just as effective today as it was for Hannah.

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Hannah did indeed have a baby, a son whom she named Samuel. Hannah loved her son, and kept him with her for the first few years of his life. But after she had weaned him, she brought Samuel to the house of the Lord and said, “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the Lord.  For his whole life will be given over to the Lord.  And he worshiped the Lord there.” (1 Sa 27, 28)

She had promised the Lord that Samuel would be dedicated to him for all the years of his life before he was even born, and here she was fulfilling the promise she made. And I love the last part of verse, “And he worshiped the Lord there.” Samuel, only a very young child, had already learned how to worship the Lord. Who had taught him? My guess is Hannah, his mom. His mom had not only prayed for this boy since before he was conceived, but then when he was born, she continued to pray and also taught him to worship even though he was small.

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The first few years of child’s life are the perfect chance to teach Jesus’ love.  Faith like a child’s. Little kiddos can learn to pray and listen to God’s word. They can learn Jesus’ heals with each little scrape and fall. They can learn Jesus protects and is a refuge during the dark nights when nightmares threaten to scare them.  They can learn how to love like Jesus and be kind as they play with others.  Moms, it doesn’t have to be a sermon, but simple little lessons everyday can teach our children about Jesus.

By giving her son to the temple, Hannah displayed the trust she had in her God. It’s hard enough letting a babysitter watch your kid for the first time, let alone entrusting your child to be raised in the temple! And when Hannah brought Samuel to the temple, it was not the holy place it should have been. Yet another reason to be a praying mom and to teach your children during those early years.  Those lessons create the foundation on which they may stand firm as they enter the world. I want my kids’ foundation to be Jesus.

(1 Samuel 1)

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Hannah Part 2: Get Praying

God’s pouring out his grace, my friend, did you bring your cup?

We saw Hannah bring her hurt and bitterness to the Lord in prayer. But she doesn’t dwell on it in her prayer. God knows how she’s feeling.  What good does it do her to focus on her bitterness? Instead she recognizes that God is Lord Almighty. “O Lord Almighty,” she says.  Remembering who God is can be a great comfort and a reassuring reminder of who is ultimately in control. And Hannah acknowledges that God is Almighty.

Hannah gives her heavy burden to the Lord, pouring out her heart and soul, weeping before God openly and honestly.

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.” (1 Sam 1:10)

I’m pretty sure we’ve all felt deep anguish and have wept bitterly at some point in our lives…but do we pray to God?

Hannah also asked God for her heart’s desire.  She prayed for a baby.  Have you ever asked God for your heart’s desire, whatever it may be? I have.  And, from first hand experience, I can tell you God doesn’t promise to always answer our prayers in the way we may expect, in the way we may hope, or when we think it should happen. But, God is always good.  He is always listening and always works things for our good.

Hannah asks God for a son and promises the baby’s life will be dedicated to the Lord.  Hannah knows how precious children are and that they can have an active role in God’s plan.  Even without an answer to her prayer, before he’s even conceived, she dedicates the child’s life to the Lord.

Meanwhile, Eli the priest was watching her pray in the temple, her mouth was moving but she was not speaking out loud. Clearly, she’s drunk. Wait, what? Yeah, you read correctly, Eli assumes and scolds her for being drunk.  But dear Hannah doesn’t shrink away from his accusation, nor does she react with attitude. Listen to what she says:

“I am a woman who is deeply troubled…I was pouring out my soul to the Lord…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” (1 Sam 1:16)

A friend of mine told me that when she sees something sad, she “ugly cries.”  Maybe that was Hannah, “ugly crying” over her pain and distress, unashamed of putting it all out there before the Lord, no matter who saw her.  When she prayed, she blocked out everything else until it was just her and God. And then she let it go and told the Lord everything, not out loud for all to hear, but God heard.  She also wasn’t worried if her mascara smudged. In fact, I bet Hannah wasn’t even thinking about appearances! She was talking to her Father about her troubles, pouring out her soul, praying out of anguish and grief.  Wow. I want to be more like Hannah, don’t you?

I love the example Hannah sets for us. Pray when we hurt. Pray no matter where we are or who sees.  Pray and ask God for our hearts desires. Pray to a God who lovingly listens to our anguish or joy. And always pray openly and honestly from your heart.

(1 Samuel 1)

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Hannah Part 1: Praying Regardless Of How We Feel

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I need to be a mom that prays, not just for my boys’, but for my own sanity!  To be a caffeinated, praying mom — that’s my goal.  So, let’s look at a Biblical mom for an idea of what a praying mom can look like.

Hannah was part of a devout but divided family. Guess that’s what happens when a guy has two wives. Hannah was probably the first wife but she couldn’t have children so hubby Elkanah married Peninnah, who did indeed have children. But Elkanah loved Hannah so much he would give her double portions. And being the sweet second wife that she was, Peninnah would provoke her “rival” to irritate Hannah. Year after year.

These two sides of the family would go to Shiloh together to worship God and bring their sacrifices each year.  And every year, Peninnah was up to her usual self, provoking Hannah until she wept and wouldn’t eat.

“Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?,” Elkanah asked. (1 Samuel 1: 8) I know he loved Hannah and was trying to get her out of the dumps, but dude, not helpful!

After the family finishes eating, Hannah gets up and decides it’s time to pray. Really pray. “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow, saying, ‘O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon 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” (1 Samuel 1: 10,11.)

I love this. Hannah didn’t wait to pray until she felt better. She didn’t wait until she felt like it, she prayed in the midst of her bitterness. I love the raw honesty of this woman. She was fed up and she was miserable.  But even though she felt miserable, she didn’t let it overtake her, instead she recognized it and prayed weeping to the Lord, pleading with him.  I think sometimes when we feel angry, bitter, and sullen instead of choosing to recognize it and pray through it, we try to wait until we’re “better” before talking to our Heavenly Father because somehow we don’t think we should have those feelings when praying.

Hannah shows us something different. The bitterness and rejection she’s feeling is a signal that it’s the exact moment she needs to take her hurt to the Lord. She knows there’s only one source that gives peace when your heart is hurting. And she heads straight to that source for a chat.  I’m thankful that we don’t need to wait until we are feeling good before we can talk to our Father. And I’m thankful we can bring our troubles to Him because He cares for us.  How are you feeling today?  No matter how good or bad you may be feeling, have you gone to the Lord in prayer?

(1 Samuel 1)