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Hannah Was Praying

by David Johnson

(Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.)

 

     It is good to be together again as we have the opportunity to look in to the Word of God and learn and apply it to our lives. The title for our lesson is: “Hannah Was Praying.” Our text is in the Old Testament book of First Samuel, chapter 1, verses 12 through 20.  Listen to the Word of God. “As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth.  Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.  Eli though she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”  “Not so my lord,” Hannah replied.  “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.  Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.”  Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”  She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.”  Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.  Early the next morning they arose and worshipped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah, Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her.  So, in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him’.”  This is the Word of God.

     Billy Graham who is now with the Lord was asked: “Does the Bible say anything about “Mother’s Day”?”  Graham answered, “No but the Bible certainly upholds the principals behind it.”  For example, in Exodus 20:12 “…Honor your father and your mother…”  And in the New Testament book of Ephesians 6:1-2 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.  “Honor your father and mother”, which is the first commandment with a promise, “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  So, a happy and harmonious family will generally enjoy one another and foster good times together as family, which can help add to healthier life spans together.  Billy Graham reminds us: “Your children learn by example, if they see you honoring your mother, they will learn and practice honoring in the future.”  God knows, with all the strife and conflict in society, we should strive to seek love and honor in our closest family relationships and will be blessed for it.

     Mother’s Day is not a religious holiday, and not of Biblical origin.  But it is a special recognition day set aside in America and other countries (Mexico’s Mother’s Day is the second Wednesday in May) as to honor motherhood.  Obviously without motherhood our human race would cease to exist.  Without a loving motherhood, our planet would be in worse chaos.  In America, the idea of a Mother’s Day began with Ann Jarvis whose mother died in 1906 and she had over a few friends on the first anniversary of her mother’s death to honor her memory.

     The idea spread, in 1914 Congress gave Mother’s Day national sanction and recognition.  Today Mother’s Day is always on a Sunday when most do not have to work at a job and so can be together.  It’s rather traditional with many to go to a restaurant for a main meal so mom doesn’t have to cook and has the day off-so-to-speak.  Or the family can stay home and dad cook.  The restaurant business much prefers the former option.  It’s the busiest and usually most profitably day of the year on Mother’s Day for the restaurant business.  Not eating on Mother’s Day is a very unpopular option.

     Whatever the tradition for thousands of years’ mothers have been honored.  Today especially, we remember and honor our mothers and motherhood.  In the Bible, there are many honorable women and mothers, models to emulate for their godliness and virtues.

     One such mother was Hannah as described in First Samuel chapters one and two.  The same “Hannah” from the Hebrew means “grace.” And God poured out his grace into Hannah’s life.  Hannah was a godly woman, a godly wife, and a godly mother.  We can all learn from her example.  In First Samuel 1:12 “…she kept on praying to the Lord…”  Hannah was a woman of unceasing prayer.  In the context here, she prayed fervently for a son, because she had been childless, barren.  In ancient times a woman un able to bear especially sons, was looked down upon, even often despised and rejected.  Great was Hannah’s affliction over her barrenness.  But she had the faith in her Lord to keep on praying.  So, should we.

     According to First Samuel 1:15 Hannah was “pouring out her soul to the Lord.”  It was deep, dedicated supplication.  The Lord is moved by persistent and fervent prayer petition, whereas God does not always answer our prayers as we desire, in Hannah’s case according to his will, and Hannah’s humility and faith, he granted her heart’s desire and she bore a son.  Yet according to First Samuel 1:5 “…the Lord had closed her womb.”  So, the Lord in his divine providence or foreseen care for Hannah, had reserved someone special as her first-born son. 

     But before Hannah knew she was with child consider her transformation.  First, her prior mindset: In First Samuel 1:8 “Elkanah, her husband would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping?  Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted?  Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”  After much prayer in her distress. Eli, Israel’s High Priest and Judge said to Hannah in First Samuel 1:17 “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”  Then consider from Hannah’s transformed mindset in First Samuel 1:18 “She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.”  Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer down cast.”  What changed her heart?  At least four factors which we should all practice ourselves:

  1. Hannah fervently and persistently prayed, poured out her heart to the Lord.  Prayer is paramount.
  2. Hannah received and accepted encouragement from the leader of Israel.  Accepting encouragement is elevating and we should seek and listen the encouragement of those around us that would encourage us.
  3. Hannah resolved to leave her problem with God.  This is the remedy for deep distress: tell God how you really feel and leave it to him to handle.
  4. Most importantly: trust God to handle it – how and when he knows is best.  We need to entrust ourselves and our problems to our Lord.

     Hannah accomplished all of these with God’s help and grace.  We can do the same.  From First Samuel 1:20 “So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel saying.  “Because I asked the Lord for him. “Hannah received and accepted encouragement from the leader of Israel.  Accepting encouragement is elevating.

  1. Hannah resolved to leave her problem with her Lord.  This is the remedy for deep distress: tell God how you really feel and leave it to him to handle according to his will and timing.
  2. Most importantly: trust God to handle it – how and when he knows is best.  We need to entrust ourselves and our problems to our God for our Father knows best.

     Hannah accomplished all of these with God’s help and grace.  We can do the same.  From First Samuel 1:20 “So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son.  She named him Samuel saying.  “Because I asked the Lord for him.”  In Hebrew “Samuel” sounds like “heard of God.”  Samuel went on to become a great judge, prophet and priest of Israel.  He anointed the first two kings of Israel, Samuel is listed in the Hall of fame of Faith in the New Testament in Hebrews chapter 11.  Samuel is even a type of Christ, a type of messiah who of course is the king, the great prophet and the priest in the order of Melchizedek

     Hannah was most honorable, she had been barren for years, she earnestly prayed for a son and she was graced by the Lord to bear a fine son.  Moreover, listen to First Samuel 1:22 “…she said to her husband, “after the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.”  Meaning after weaning her son off her milk, after at this time probably 2 or 3 years, she would give her son back to the Lord for fulltime service unto the Lord and Israel.

     Hannah was an honorable mother who kept her vow to the Lord.  So, Hannah loved and honored her Lord more than her son!  How many of us can honestly say and prove by our actions that we love the Lord more than our child or children?

     After mother Hannah had given her son back to her Lord, note a portion of her prayer to the Lord in First Samuel 2:1-2 “…then Hannah prayed and said: “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high…There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.” 

     That’s genuine, heartfelt worship and praise of adoration and veneration of her Lord!  Could we genuinely pray and praise like this if we had for example sent off our son or daughter to a foreign mission field for the Lord?  So, did Hannah ever see her son again?  The answer is in First Samuel 2:19 “Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.”  So, mother Hannah was content to see her only son she had given back to the fulltime Lord’s service once a year!  That’s selfless and sacrificial love.

     So, is that all the family life that Hannah had?  In First Samuel 2:21 “And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.  Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.”

     Hannah went from barren to bountiful!  The Lord God greatly blesses godliness and faithfulness and poured out his grace on Hannah.  We need more Christians today, more mothers, more mothers-to-be with the godliness of Hannah.

     As we think of our own dear mothers, listen to a tribute to motherhood entitled: “Mother’s Hands”: “These hands have spent a lifetime being busy through the day of washing clothes, cooking meals, finding time to pray, quilting, baking, planting, sometimes spanking.  These hands have never stopped to rest when filling family needs.  These hands have done unending tasks from dawn to setting sun.  Then each night these hands tucked you in when another day was done.  These are mother’s hands: tired, wrinkled but ready for another day.  Can you see, can you remember your mother’s hands?  If you can touch them, squeeze them gently or remember them fondly.  Honor your mother, honor her memory.  Remember mother’s hands.”  My mother Lucy lived 91 years, hands deformed by arthritis, still soft and tender…  I also remember my mother’s hands.

     Yet godliness is not tied to gender, nor to motherhood; we all need to honor God and he will pour his grace into our lives as he did Hannah, according to his will.  Not all mothers are as honorable as this Hannah, nevertheless we are commanded to honor our mothers, and God will bless is for it.  God bless mom and motherhood.

             David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, IN.

 




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I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33