Inspired to Pray – Part 2
“Eli [the priest] answered [Hannah], ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’” (1 Samuel 1:17 NIV)
Hannah could be called “the First Lady of Prayer” because she’s the first woman whose petition is recorded in Scripture. Her story is related in some detail, showing us how God uses deep human need as a springboard to accomplish his purposes. Whenever he does this, believers receive answers they can hardly believe.
Hannah lived in Israel during an era of great lawlessness, a time when no king ruled and “everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25). To make matters worse, she shared her husband, Elkanah, with an unpleasant woman named Peninnah, who was his second wife. Hannah’s inability to have children made her the constant brunt of Peninnah’s taunts.
Constantly tormented, with no offspring of her own, weeping and unable to eat, Hannah seemed mired in a hopeless situation. In the midst of her pain, she didn’t know what God was about to do. She had no idea that he was going to raise up a prophet who would lead his wayward people back to himself. Nor did she know that God would choose her, among all the women of Israel, to bear that child. God chose this heartbroken woman out of compassion and grace. And he used a remarkable method to bring about the birth of Hannah’s son, Samuel.
“Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. 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’ (1 Samuel 1:9-11).”
This prayer, one of the greatest in the Bible, not only changed Hannah’s life, but also altered the history of Israel. Scripture doesn’t say what finally drove Hannah to stand and pray that day, but it led to a breakthrough moment with God. This is the process the Lord often uses—working out his plans through weak human beings who feel compelled by their need to pray.
Incredibly, we have the same potential in prayer that Hannah did. Like Hannah, our “breaking point” can lead to a “breakthrough” if it spurs us to call on God. Hannah asked for a son, but God gave her much more. The long, depressing cycle that had continued year after year was broken in just a few moments spent with God. The same can be true for us today because we pray to the same God Hannah prayed to—an unchanging God.
-Pastor Cymbala (excerpted from Breakthrough Prayer)
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-20.