What is prayer? To put it simply, it’s communication with God. There are many examples in the Bible of how to pray and how not to pray. I’ll get to the examples of how to in the coming weeks, but today, I want to look at Hannah.
There is a section in 1 Samuel 2 called Hannah’s Prayer, but that’s not what I want to point out. Skim back to chapter 1 verse 10: In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. Verse 11, And she made a vow, saying, “O Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head. (NIV)
If you know anything about the story then you know Hannah was barren. To make matters worse, her husband’s other wife was fruitful. And to make matters even worse, her husband showed favoritism to Hannah (not a bad thing to be loved), which made the other wife spiteful and jealous. The other wife, as Scripture says, “provoked her (Hannah) in order to irritate her.”
Hannah’s husband did all that was right and proper according to the law when it came to offering sacrifices. He even gave Hannah double portions, because he loved her. My guess is, her heartache tore at him and thought to beseech the Lord with double portions, hoping she’d (they’d) find favor (grace) in his eyes.
But check this out:
As she kept praying to the Lord, Eli (high priest) observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long will you keep on getting drunk? Get rid of your wine.”
Ouch! Here is this woman, heartbroken and crying out (praying) to God and this man of God tells her to get rid of her wine. Okay, so there must be something wrong here. Why would this sort of prayer be such an oddity for the high priest to see that he accused this woman of being drunk? Why would he have not recognized it from a personal standpoint?
Perhaps because Eli had moved away from the personal communication with God and moved into a legalistic one.
Some things to ponder . . .
- How is your communication with God?
- Are you surprised by those around you whose actions, when it comes to praying to God, seem out of the ordinary?
Next week, I’ll go into Hannah’s response, Eli’s and God’s.