Subject: Hannah, Oh Hannah, Teach Us To Pray
Date sent: Wed, 2 Dec 1998

Hannah. Oh, Hannah. Teach Us To Pray!

Everyone, at some point in their life, has experienced trials and tribulations. Sometimes, these trials can feel so overwhelming, we think our prayers are just not getting through to God. Ever been there? Sure you have. But there is a way to get through. To find out how, all we need to do is read the story of Hannah, in the Old Testament.

We read about Hannah in the first chapter of Samuel, where she is portrayed as being a very unhappy and desperate woman. In reading this story, you might think she had nothing to be unhappy about. After all, she had a good husband who loved her very much. In fact, he treated her like a queen and she lacked for nothing. Yet, she was still miserable and unhappy.

The reason for her unhappiness was she wanted God to bless her with a son. But, year after year, her womb remained barren. It's important to remember, in Hannah's time, to be without children was considered not to be blessed by God. Then, to make matters worse, because of her barren condition, she was scorned by other women.

Hannah's husband had another wife, named Peninnah, who liked to provoke Hannah by parading her children in front of Hannah, as a silent, gloating witness to Hannah's inability to bear children.

1 Samuel 1:6 "And her adversary (Peninnah) also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb."

Hannah was not provoked because she was jealous of the children God had given Peninnah; but because she felt God had not blessed her. This is why Hannah's story is such a good example of how we can also get answers to our prayers, during desperate times.

It was because Hannah was provoked by Peninnah, that she finally took the kind of action that got results. And, without this provocation, she might not have been motivated enough to take the correct action.

In this study, also remember, the things written about in the Old Testament were not only to teach us how to live, but also to give us an example of how we can experience more of God's love, even when we face adversities. So in this story, I want you to see you, and your adversary, the devil.

Like Peninnah, who was Hannah's adversary, doesn't your adversary, provoke you? Doesn't he tell you that you are not good enough for God to bless you? Doesn't he point to areas in your life that are fruitless and accuse you of being barren in producing the fruits of the Holy Spirit?

Sure he does! He does these things to make you miserable and unhappy; to take away your joy, peace, and love; and, to rob you of your relationship and victory, as a son or daughter of God!

For many years Hannah had tried everything, including prayer, with no results. Now, after exhausting all her efforts, something had to change. She couldn't take it any longer. The only choices she had left, was to give up and accept her fate; drown her sorrows in alcohol; or to go to God, one more time, and pray her heart out. I think you know what she did.

1 Samuel 1:10 "In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD." This time it was different. She wasn't saying the same, worn-out prayers anymore.

1 Samuel 1:13 "Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard."

When we are desperate, and cry out to God with our whole heart, words are not necessary. God knows what is in our heart and hears us.

Hannah finally received a miracle from the Lord, and she conceived and gave birth to a son, named Samuel. But did you see the secret behind her answered prayer?

It was only after all of Hannah's efforts failed, and after her adversary had provoked her to the point of desperation, that she finally prayed her heart out to God. It is this kind of prayer that gets results, because when we totally trust God, instead of ourselves, He will always meet our needs.

This is one of the main reasons God allows problems in our life. To teach us to trust in Him and not ourselves. So the next time you face adversities in your life, will you praise God for the opportunity to learn how to trust Him to meet your needs? Will you pray with your whole heart and believe the answer is on the way? Or, will we allow your adversary to cause us to give up, and become defeated?

God is our loving Heavenly Father. He always wants to answer our prayers when we reach out to Him, just like we want to help our children when they reach out to us. Best of all, there are absolutely no problems too big for our Heavenly Father to handle.

There is one last thing we need to see in Hannah's story, and that is, she must have looked pretty bad while praying in the Temple, because the priest, Eli, thought she was drunk. 1 Samuel 1:15 "Not so, my lord," Hannah replied to the priest, "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."

Then, Eli received a word from the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:17-18 "Eli answered, Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him." Hannah replied, "May your servant find favor in your eyes. Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast."

Previously, Hannah was an extremely unhappy, grieving woman. Now, after all those years of sorrow and grief, she is no longer sad and unhappy. But she still didn't have the son she wanted. So what changed in her life?

The change came when Hannah prayed her heart out to the Lord, let go of her own efforts, and trusted only in God. We can learn from this, because it doesn't matter how many years we have suffered, our life can change in a matter of moments, when we let go, and let God.

I have found that trusting God is the only way to experience lasting happiness, joy, and peace. So you might ask, how can I know I am trusting in God, and not myself? If you are experiencing any of the following emotions: worry, anxiety, depression, anger, and fear, chances are you are still hanging on to your problems. Why not do what Hannah did? Let go and let God.

Some people, however, may feel they can not approach God because of the sin and guilt in their lives. If you ever feel like that, please don't let this separate you from the love of God. Instead, do what God's word tells us to do, 1 John 1:9 "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

Also, if you are suffering from sickness or disease, you can believe and trust what God's word says in James 5:15 "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him."

We cannot know when God will answer our prayers; but we can know one thing. The answer is on its way, just like Samuel was on his way to Hannah, when she believed and trusted God.

So, no matter how desperate your problems are, don't quit, just pray like Hannah, with your whole heart. The Bible says in Matthew 7:7 "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." And in Luke 1:37 "For with God nothing shall be impossible."

The secret of effective prayer, is to trust and depend on God, and not yourself; pray with your whole heart; ask God to reveal His word to you; then, believe and you shall receive!

By Walt Childs

I can attest to Hannah's prayer. The first prayer I prayed from the heart was immediately and gloriously answered while still an atheist! Yes, children of the Most High God, our heavenly Father listens to sinner's prayers. My wife had just discovered two months earlier that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. She tried to get me "saved" by leaving a Bible on the coffee table. I started to read it, but not to find out about God. I went straight to the Old Testament to rub her nose into a cruel God who kills people by the thousands and forced people into what I considered barbaric blood animal rituals.

Despite all the wrong reasons for reading the Bible, two months after my wife met the Messiah--the Lord brought me to a place with my alcoholism where I had no place to go but Him...and I didn't even believe in Him, at least not the way most Christians use the word "believe." I finally came to the place with my alcoholism where I knew there was no power on earth or in me that could help me overcome alcoholism. God was my only resort...a God that I didn't even believe existed. But I prayed or yelled a prayer to Him in my heart that went like this:

"Ok, Big Fella, here's your chance to prove yourself. I've got a problem. And there's no one on earth that can help me. If you want to prove you're up there big fella, here's your chance. (I took my alcohol problem, pretended it was a piece of paper that I crumbled up, threw it up in the air in my imagination and said) Catch Big fella, the problem is all yours because tomorrow, I'm not messing with it."

The next day, Valentine's Day, I was completely cured of alcoholism without any withdrawal symptoms. That was one of three miracles He performed for me that day. I can attest to the power of these prayers that come from absolute desperation. Oh, if we Christians could get more desperate, more compassionate, more dependent upon Him. We must become more empty of our own resources, the resources of the flesh, and more dependent upon the powers from on High. Hannah, Oh, Hannah, teach us to pray!

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  Our prayers lay the track down on which God's power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, his power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails. -- Watchman Nee, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

God always answers us in the deeps, never in the shallows of our soul. -- Amy Carmichael, Christian Reader, Vol. 32, no. 4. See: 1 Ki 19:12; Pr 8:34; Eze 43:2.

  He who does not pray when the sun shines will not know how to pray when the clouds roll in. -- George Failing, Christian Reader, Vol. 34.

  Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what he can do. -- Andrew Murray, Christian Reader, Vol. 32, no. 4.

 In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without heart. -- John Bunyan, Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 2. See: Jer 29:13; Ecc 5:2; Mt 6:7