When we visit the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel, we are quick to recall her emotional plea at the temple for a son, and awe-inspiring decision to give him right back to the service of the Lord.
Her turning to God at the peak of her anxiety and dismay is honorable, her surrender of God’s gift of Samuel all the more appalling.
Yet one more aspect of her attitude can teach us a fine lesson in why we pray. After God’s generous and gracious granting of Samuel, Hannah goes on to pray again (1 Samuel 2:1-10)…and Samuel’s name is nowhere to be found.
Her final prayer written down – perhaps one of the finest in Scripture and even quoted by Mary, mother of Jesus – isn’t Samuel-centered. It’s God-centered.
While Hannah was overjoyed to finally have a child, there was a greater motive behind her heart: to testify of God’s abundant power and love. She had a powerful, first-hand experience of His grace, an even richer reality than that of her son.
So overflowing is her prayer with declarations of Yahweh’s righteousness, it actually becomes a warning to the wicked and doubtful.
Rather than merely saying “thank you” or “I’m so glad to have Samuel” – (which are justifiable feelings!) – she instead marvels at the Lord’s holiness, triumph over evil, care for the humble, and perfect judgment. She revels in His sovereignty, not only over her life but over all mankind.
Hannah is overwhelmed, not with the gift, but with the Giver.
“My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.
“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed…” 1 Samuel 2:1-3
Hannah’s situation may seem so extraordinary and far from us that we can miss this point. Yet, in her prayer and that of others in the Bible, there’s a theme of desiring deliverance in order to later give worship.Let's pray earnestly, not merely to receive blessings but out of a greater desire to see God glorified. Click To Tweet
David too says:
“Be gracious to me, O Lord!
See my affliction from those who hate me,
O you who lift me up from the gates of death,
14 that I may recount all your praises,
that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
I may rejoice in your salvation.” Psalm 9:13-14
As my husband said when we discussed this, “Some of the godliest (yet not faultless) people seek God’s merciful hand simply to see His name exalted as opposed to get what they want.”
In reading Hannah’s story again and in studying some of the Psalms, this truth begins to hit home.
So often I send out half-full pleas to the Lord.
What do I mean? I long for a fix to my problem or relief for my pain, but forget the WHY. I forget that when God steps in it means I will have a chance to praise!
Many times I lack the prayerful confidence of Hannah or David. In that moment I think “maybe God will help” instead of joyfully knowing “He will help.”
Prayers in the Bible have an air of expectancy. The saints are expectant in their prayers, not because they feel they deserve anything, but because they welcome God to be glorified in their weakness.
Scripture tells us “to wait upon the Lord,” not out of wishful thinking but because God will work for His people in the way He determines is best. A best that is full of love, wisdom, and is worthy of our trust.
Every need of ours is a chance to witness and rejoice in His redemption.
Now I pray with a renewed sense of purpose: God, I long to see your deliverance, so that I can praise Your Name!