Many people are familiar with the exercise of prayer. Some have studied and learned written prayers. Other people have prayed for others in times of need. Yet others, have used prayer as a means by which to maintain an active relationship with God. Let us look at Hannah's prayer and learn more about the extent to which she exercised the act of prayer in seeking God.
When I think about Hannah (1 Samuel, Chapter 1), I imagine a person who carries themselves with their head bowed down, eyes full of sorrow (marked by swollen tear glands and signs of restless nights; lacking sleep). She is thin, from lack of appetite. There is an emptiness within her, as well as a quiet and reserved manner of character. What may have led to such an appearance?
Hannah has been a married woman who has not been able to conceive a child. In her culture, a woman who can do so, is seen as a woman who is blessed by God but also one who is a blessing to her husband. Additionally, for reasons not known, her husband has a second wife. Unlike Hannah, she has been able to grant her husband several children. Consequently, for years, her husband's second wife has tormented her with this fact. Although Hannah has not been able to bless her husband with children, in particular a male heir, her husband has blessed her more than his second wife. Yet, the blessings of Hannah's husband have not quenched her inner most desire to conceive a male child.
Part of Hannah's way of living involves an annual trip to a holy place not too far from where she lives. Her husband offers a sacrifice and she prays at the holy place. Although she has made this journey before, for several years, this time, things are different. She goes before the outer court of the holy place and begins to pray (perhaps kneeling down on her knees and bowing down or prostrate, facing the ground). In fact, the weight of burden within her heart is so heavy that she cries out unto God and pours her whole heart to Him. However, as Hannah cries out unto the Lord, her lips are observed to be moving, but no voice can be heard. Furthermore, a local priest has observed her and things that she is overwhelmed with alcohol! Yes, such was the extent that Hannah sought God out through prayer; such was the burden within her that longed for His divine intervention.
In the process of her prayer, Hannah makes a vow with God. If He grants her a male child, she would dedicate him to His service ... for life! God grants her the child, Samuel. Once the son has developed well enough, she honors her vow and brings him to the holy place, before the priest, and dedicates him for servitude unto God. In the years that follow, it is noted that she brings him clothes on her annual visit to the holy place.
In observing the actions of Hannah, in particular her exercise of prayer, I am left to ponder over several questions:
Let us pray: Lord, You who are Great and Grand, I ask you to forgive me for the ill manner in which I have sought you in the past. Please look at my heart and transform it so that I may be inclined to seek You as I should ... Wholly (with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength), and humble. I ask this in the name of Christ Jesus, Amen.
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R. A. Gómez