It is said that prayer changes the pray-er more than just circumstances or God’s mind. This morning as I read the story of Hannah praying for a son, I am reminded that prayer is about the journey more than the end. It is about a relationship between Hannah and her Lord Almighty – much more than just her asking and her Lord giving.
1 Samuel 1
10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.
Why was Hannah in deep anguish? She was barren. Her husband, Elkanah had 2 wives. The other wife had children. Year after year, she often ridiculed Hannah because she had no children. Nothing could comfort Hannah – not even when Elkanah loved her more and treated her better than the other wife. vv.1-9.
So instead of complaining to Elkanah, or arguing or fighting her rival, Hannah prayed to God. She promised God that she would give her son all the days of his life. v.11 This prayer is not about exchange deal – give God something in exchange for something. Hannah poured out her misery to God. God was her counsellor – she knew God was listening and hearing her grief. Hannah promised to give God back what He would give her in gratitude and worship.
Eli thought Hannah was drunk and rebuked her. When Hannah told him that she was pouring out her anguish to God, Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” vv.12-17
Many of us know how the story ended. We know God answered Hannah’s prayer by giving her Samuel. Many mothers even named their son Samuel because Hannah said ‘I asked the Lord for him.’ v.20
What I learned most from Hannah’s story is not that God grants the prayer requests of his children – those who prayed fervently and those are in deep grief. It is true that He does. It is also true that we can pray to God when we are sad and pour our complaints to him and He listens. Listening does not mean that He always grants what we ask for.
What I admire from Hannah’s prayer life is found in verse 18b.
Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Prayer changes Hannah’s countenance – her face was no longer sad. It is not just her face but her heart as well. How do we know that? She ate something. I can relate to this – when I am anxious or sad, I had to force myself to eat. I eat less. Hannah did not even want to eat. v.7
Prayer changes the Pray-er before the circumstances change. Prayer is going to God and telling him all that is in my heart. Prayer is giving back to God what He gives in gratitude and worship. Prayer changes me even when God does not grant what I asked of Him.