Hannah teaches us the value of tears and prayer. The Bible says in Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."
Elkanah was in the line of the tribe of Levi. Levi was the priestly line. The Bible says that he had two wives. (1 Samuel 1:2) And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
Hannah was barren. In those days it was a reproach to a woman not to have children as we have already discussed in our study on Sarah. Barrenness was the greatest dishonor that could come upon a Hebrew woman.
But despite this her husband loved her very much. It did not matter to him that she could not give him children. (1 Samuel 1:4-8) And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb. And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb. And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat. Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? am not I better to thee than ten sons?
Yes, of course, he was but for Hannah it was still a grief to her heart. The Bible says in verses 10 "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore." She shed many tears over this matter. The Bible does not say that she cried to her husband or to anyone else. It says she cried unto the Lord. God not only sees our tears but he also saves them. (Psalm 56:8) Thou tellest my wanderings: put thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in thy book?
Sometimes it is good to shed tears when you pray. (Psalm 30:5) For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
There are all kinds of tears that we can shed.
- Tears for your own or someone else's health or life.
(Isaiah 38:5) Go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus saith the LORD, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.
- Tears of grief.
(Psalm 6:6) I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears.
- Tears of gratitude.
(Luke 7:44) And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
- Tears of doubt.
(Mark 9:24) And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
- Tears of love.
(2 Corinthians 2:4) For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
- Tears of anguish.
(Hebrews 12:17) For ye know how that afterward, when he (Esau) would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
- Tears of impending danger.
(Acts 20:31) Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
- Tears of remorse.
(Matthew 26:75) And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
- Tears of sadness.
(Luke 19:41) And when he was come near, he beheld the city (Jerusalem), and wept over it,
- Tears of loss over the death of a loved one.
(John 11:35) Jesus wept.
- Tears of sorrow.
(John 20:11) But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,
- Tears of friendship.
(Acts 20:37) And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him,
Does God really care about our tears? (Revelation 21:4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. He sure does. 1Peter 5:7 tells us that. "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." He cares for you like nobody else can or will.
DOES JESUS CARE?
Does Jesus care when my heart is pained too deeply for mirth and song;
As the burdens press, and the cares distress; and the way grows weary and long?
Does Jesus care when my way is dark with a nameless dread and fear?
As the daylight fades into deep night shades, does He care enough to be near?
Does Jesus care when I've tried and failed to resist some temptation strong;
When for my deep grief I find no relief, though my tears flow all the night long?
Does Jesus care when I've said goodbye to the dearest on earth to me,
And my sad heart aches till it nearly breaks, is it aught to Him? Does He see?
Oh yes, He cares; I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary, I know my Saviour cares.
(Does Jesus Care? By Frank E. Graeff and J. Lincoln Hall)
Yes, Jesus cares. I have gone to this hymn many times for comfort and have found it in those words.
Why does he care? (Luke 22:44) And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Because when God became man in the person of Jesus Christ and walked the face of this earth He encountered the same trials and tribulations that we do today. Only don't compare what you are going through to what Jesus suffered. You could never endure what He had to in order to purchase your pardon on the cross. Just be grateful that He did.
Notice that Hannah did not utter her prayer out loud. The Bible says in verse 13 "Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken." Eli was sitting right there and he couldn't hear her prayer. That is why he thought that she was drunk. But God heard her!
God hears our prayers even when we are too distraught to voice them. The Bible tells us in Romans 8:26 "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
Have you ever been so distraught over a situation that you felt as though you just couldn't pray? All those tears that you shed were being carried to the throne of God and the Holy Spirit was interceding for you on your behalf. I have been there. I know that God heard my prayers even though I could not put them into words. I know because He answered them.
What Hannah wanted the most in the world was a little boy. She promised the Lord if He gave her one she would dedicate the child to God and he would serve the Lord the rest of his life. She determined that in her heart when she was still barren. (1 Samuel 1:11) And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head."
Hannah put God first in her request for a child. And when Samuel was born she kept her promise. She took the child that she so desperately wanted and gave him to the Lord. (1 Samuel 1:27-28) For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.
Hannah was serious about her vow. She did not make it out of desperation. She did not forget it when God fulfilled her request. She did not back out of it. She kept her end of the bargain. And God blessed her for it. (1 Samuel 2:21) And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
Lessons to learn from Hannah's life:
- God saw Hannah's tears and turned them into joy.
- God heard Hannah's prayers even though she uttered them in her heart.
- God opened Hannah's womb so she could conceive because of her faith.
- God used Samuel. God will always use what you give Him.
Lessons to learn about prayer:
- God answer prayers. In His own timing and in His own way.
- The more you want something the more you should pray for it.
- The more you pray the easier it is to pray more.
- When God says "NO," go "ON." Don't quit on God. He knows better than you do anyway.
When your boss says, "No," do you quit your job? When your boyfriend says, "No," do you leave him? When your husband says, "No," do you divorce him? NO!! Of course you don't.
Then why do you do it to God? Why do you quit on God when He says, "No!"
Let me ask you a question. Do you honestly think God quits on you? You may think He does because He doesn't give you what you want. But did you ever stop to think that maybe He wants to give you something better. Or maybe He'll give it to you but later when He thinks you are ready for it. Or how about this, maybe you just don't deserve it!
Hannah was a "pray-er". But her prayers were unselfish. God won't answer selfish requests. Check your motives before you pray. Make sure they are pure and honest and according to God's will and not yours.
George Mueller was a young German Christian who answered the call from the Lord to help the poor children of Bristol in England. He preached the gospel to a small company of believers from whom, at his own suggestion, he received no salary. His only support was the voluntary offerings of his brethren. In answer to prayer, funds were received as needed.
Mueller began his work in such a manner that aid could not be expected from anyone but God. He did not, of course, expect God to create gold and silver and put them into his hands. He knew that God could incline the hearts of men to aid him, and he believed that if the work was of God, God would meet every need. Thus, in childlike simplicity, he looked to God, and all that he needed was furnished.
In his prayer closet, alone with God and the Bible, he would gird up the loins of his mind and burnish his armour for the battles of the day. With absolute confidence and childlike simplicity, he believed every Word that God had spoken.
His prayers were offered in simple language and with a humble and fervent spirit. Because he knew His Father was so rich, benevolent, and forgiving, he was free to ask for and obtain great blessings. But the most remarkable feature about his prayer was that he asked for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. To glorify Christ and magnify His name above every name seemed the all-pervading theme that filled his heart and life.
It was George Mueller's greatest hope that his record of God's faithfulness to him would encourage believers to develop faith like his own - the faith without which it is impossible to please God; the faith that works by love and purifies the heart; the faith that removes mountains of obstacles out of our path; the faith that takes hold of God's strength and is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.
(The Autobiography of George Mueller, Whitaker House, 1984, Introduction.)
What God did for George Mueller, under the same circumstances, He will do for every believer. Not only did Mueller trust in God for his needs, but in answer to prayer, wisdom would be given him too.
Immediate results will not always be seen, however. We must not try to limit the omniscience of God by the short-sighted ignorance of man. Crosses and disappointments may be experienced while we wait on God.
There is no reason why we should not take the case of George Mueller as an example for our imitation. Whoever has this same simple desire in all things to do the will of God and the same childlike trust in His promises may hope for a similar blessing. God is no respecter of persons.
(John 9:31) Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.
No Christian should despair of doing a noble work for God. He never needs to wait until he can obtain the cooperation of the multitude or the wealthy. Let him undertake what he believes to be his duty, on ever so small a scale, and look directly to God for aid and direction. If God has planted the seed, it will take root, grow, and bear fruit. (Psalm 118:8-9) It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.