Bible Study for June 16: Hannah — Faith that prays

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1 Sam. 1:1-2,9-11, 17-18,26-28; 2:1-3
Sean Wegener, pastor
First Baptist Church, Summerville

Old Testament struggles sometimes feel foreign. Modern Christians do not often relate well to arguing over water rights, determining who gets the spotted goats, or what types of mold are ceremonially unclean. However, one biblical tragedy still impacts us deeply — fertility.

Often, our first response to social tragedies is an unhealthy one. When issues like divorce, infertility, or rebellious children arise, the tendency of the modern Christian is to seek solutions in human will power. We are quick to run to Google, counselors, renown clinics, psychological analyses, or any human path. We want to be proactive. The oversaturation of ever emerging sciences and self-assured opinions allows us the opportunity to rely on human ingenuity. However, the modern convenience of the information age was not available to Hannah.

The faith of Hannah

1 and 2 Samuel explain how David and became the promised king of God, from which the Messiah would come. Considering this, the story of Hannah is striking. The author of 1 Samuel spends more time detailing the life of a house wife than he does David’s origin.

Hannah is portrayed as the most pious Old Testament biblical figure. Yet, she defies our modern conception of a ‘strong’ woman.  Hannah lives at the same time as the Judges of Israel; therefore, it is proper to contrast Hannah with the Judges of Israel. She is not a prophetess like Deborah. She is not an assassin like Ehud. She is not a leader like Gideon. Hannah is the opposite of Hollywood’s modern-day heroine. She is a pious, rural house wife.

How forgotten Hannah must have felt. Living in the backwater country of Israel, she was barren. Many today know the loneliness that infertility causes. Hannah took her sorrows to God; her husband did not. Elkanah is another biblical example of a husband taking a second wife in order conceive children (Gen. 16 and 30). Hannah’s loneliness and her self-perceived shame is multiplied by her status as the less fortunate wife. For this reason, Hannah’s trust in God stands as the example of the most pious woman.

The uniqueness of Hannah’s’ prayer life

Hannah’s first recorded action is to go up to the house of the Lord and pray. She is the only woman in the Old Testament to do so. Unlike Sarah, she didn’t attempt and crafty schemes to get what she wanted. Hannah called upon the Lord. The importance of prayer is highlighted here. God has the deepest regard for what mankind esteems unimportant. God has concern for the sparrows, how much more so for Hannah? He hears the cries of the kings like David, and he is comforting to the forgotten. God hears us.

The power of prayer

Hannah’s prayer, as recorded in 1 Sam. 2, is the mother of the book of Psalms. Her Psalm is among the earliest examples of Israelite poetry and is considered one of the first Psalms ever written. The format of her prayer is foundational to both David’s Psalms and Mary’s song in the New Testament.

Hannah begins her prayer in the same format that Jesus taught us to pray; she hallows the name of the Lord. “There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you.” Her prayer is a theological marvel. She recognizes God’s stewardship over everything (including the womb), His power over the armies of the earth, His love for the forlorn, and His role as judge. The purpose of Hannah’s prayer today is to remind us faith and prayers, even of the most forgotten among us, are heard by the Lord.

Many of us trust in a little God, pray little prayers, and trust a little. Secretly, we worry we may miss out on the will of God. We are anxious wondering ‘am I really saved?’, ‘does God really see? Really care?’ There is a better way of living as a Christian. It requires a belief in a God who is the Rock. Prayer is the crucial element in changing our view of God. Prayer forces us to recognize that God is not a spiritual force to be invoked but a Person to be feared, loved, and trusted.

The power of prayer is in trusting God with our needs, both the physical and those of our anguishing hearts. The power of the Christian life is not in our planning, not in how our will and wit can overcome. Hannah provides us with the right first response. We take our cares and concerns to God. We throw ourselves upon the mercy of The Holy One who hears us, cares for us, and has promised to work all things to the good of those who love Him.

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