Praying in Disappointment
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12 (NKJV)
The story begins in 1 Samuel 1:1. Here we find a man called Elkanah, who had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children but Hannah was barren and was so bitterly disappointed. For years she had desired a son of her own but this had never happened. We also read in verse 6 that her rival “provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.”
Then one year during a family trip to Shiloh to sacrifice and worship God, Hannah was weeping and grieving and just couldn’t eat the food set before her. Even though her husband tried to console her, she was inconsolable! After the meal had finished, she left the table and verse 10 reveals that she “was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” Eli the priest was nearby and was watching her as she mouthed the words of her prayer. Verse 13 says, “Now Hanna spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk.” Poor Hannah, on top of her grief and bitterness she is accused by the priest of being drunk!
We might just examine her prayer at this point; “O Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.” (1 Samuel 1:11 NLT) So, this son was to be a Nazarite all his life. One of the laws that governed the life of a Nazarite was “They must never cut their hair throughout the time of their vow, for they are holy and set apart to the Lord” (Numbers 6:5 NLT). God did indeed hear Hanna’s prayer and gave her a son. 1 Samuel 1:20 (NLT) tells us that, “In due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I asked the Lord for him.’” When the boy was weaned his mother took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh and presented him to Eli for the service of God, and many years later Samuel was established in Israel as a prophet, a priest and also a judge in the service of God and the people.
This amazing person was born as the direct result of his mother’s prayer of faith and a direct answer from the Lord. Prayer unleashes the power of God. We can imagine tiny units of prayer combined like drops of water to become a great ocean which defies resistance! As Lord Tennyson wrote in his poem, Morte de Arthur , “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” Why not try it today?
Thanks and praise to you, Great Father, for being the One who listens as we pray and who answers according to your will for our lives.
Study by Cliff Neill
Grace Communion Church Luton
Farley Hill Methodist Church
North Drift Way
Local Congregational Contact: Harry Sullivan