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 he will be given over to the Lord. (1Samuel 1:27-28 NIV)
(For the complete story of Hannah, see 1 Samuel 1-2).
Two of the most poignant prayers in the Bible were prayed by Hannah. Hannah lived during the time when the Judges ruled in Israel. She was persistent in prayer and followed through on her promises. Hannah gave to God what she loved the most - her son Samuel.
Hannah and her husband Elkanah lived in Ramah, a town not far from Jerusalem. Elkanah loved her, but they had no children. Adding to Hannah’s pain, Elkanah had another wife, Peninnah, who had children. Year after year, Elkanah took the family to the religious feasts located in Shiloh, where the Tabernacle resided. Peninnah was cruel to Hannah and mocked her barrenness. Whenever the family went to the Lord’s house, Peninnah taunted Hannah until she cried and would not eat. Once after a meal in Shiloh, Hannah quietly got up and went to pray. Eli, the Priest, was sitting by the doorpost of the Tabernacle. Hannah was troubled, and she prayed and wept bitterly. She made a vow that if God gave her a son, she would give the child back to Him for as long as he lived, and no razor would touch his head. (1 Samuel 1:11). Hannah kept praying, and Eli noticed her mouth moving, but he heard no sound. He thought Hannah had been drinking, and he scolded her, “Woman, must you come here drunk? Put away your wine!” (1 Samuel 1:14). “Sir, I am not drunk,” she replied, “I am sad and have been pouring out my heart to God.” (1 Samuel 1:15). Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant your petition.” (1 Samuel 1:17).
Hannah conceived and had a son whom she named Samuel. She was faithful and kept her vow to God. When Samuel was weaned, she took him to Shiloh, along with a sacrifice, and released him into the care of Eli, the Priest. Then Hannah lifted her voice to heaven and offered a prayer of praise and thanksgiving to God. (1 Samuel 2:1-10). Every year Hannah made Samuel a robe and brought it to him when she came to Shiloh. God blessed Hannah and gave her three more sons and two daughters. (1 Samuel 2:21).
Young Samuel assisted Eli in the Tabernacle and grew in wisdom and stature. Samuel was obedient to God and became one of Israel’s greatest prophets. He urged the people to put away their idols and serve the true God. Samuel was Israel’s last judge. He anointed the first two kings of Israel, Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and David (1 Samuel 16:12-13).
Father, thank you for the touching story of Hannah that teaches us the importance of keeping our promises to you. Let us follow her example of having a thankful heart and being persistent in our prayer life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.