Tuesday, May 16, 2017

EmmDev 2017-05-16 [Lessons from Samuel] Praying

Praying

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. 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. 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."      (1Samuel1:9-11)
The major religious festivals of Israel: Passover, Tabernacles and Pentecost involved feasts - meals eaten together in the presence of the Lord. After the sacrifices were made, the people would eat and drink together in joyful celebration of all that God had done.

But Hannah is still struggling.

And so she gets up from the meal and goes to the tabernacle. Although the text uses the word "temple", the temple had not been built yet - it is the author's slip of the pen - but it is a helpful one - what he means is that she went to the place of worship.

There at the place of worship Hannah wept and Hannah prayed and Hannah surrendered.

In her weeping she trusted God with her pain. She brought her sadness and grief to Him and poured out her "bitterness of soul". Very often we try to carry pain and grief on our own and we drown in it. Hannah releases her pain to God because she trusts Him. She's convinced that God will love her even through her tears.

In her praying Hannah expresses her deepest longing to God and expresses her wishes to Him. Tomorrow we'll see how she prays in her heart, whispering to God so softly that Eli the priest only sees her lips moving and accuses her of being drunk. (In those days people prayed out loud.) Hannah is so absolutely sure that God knows her and loves her that she's convinced that He hears her heart's whisper.

In her surrender Hannah, having expressed her longing, indicates that her love for God will surpass the gift He gives her. In other words, she is clear that she won't hold on to the gift (her child) more than she will hold on to the Giver (God). Some will see this as Hannah bargaining with God. But God doesn't need her child - it is Hannah, who can't hold on to the child too tightly. Hannah is willing to give her child back to God.

When pain and longing tear us apart - we need to learn from Hannah's prayer:
- Come to God and trust Him with your tears.
- Talk to God and know that He hears your heart's whispers
- Let go of the things you hold tightly - God is all we need.



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