“Eli answered, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” 18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. 19 Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the Lord and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah made love to his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[b] saying, “Because I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1.17-20
The meaning of the name for Samuel is pretty remarkable. The text tells us it means “because I asked the Lord for him.” How fitting for one of the great prophets of the Jewish faith.
Hannah desperately wanted a son, so much so that she was willing to dedicate him to the Lord when he was of age. Eli sees her praying, thinks she is drunk, but in truth she has been crying out to the Lord for him to give her a son. When Eli sees that she is earnest and not drunk on wine, he says, “God in peace, and may the God Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” It wasn’t Eli’s blessing that gave Hannah a son, it was God’s grace. The Lord saw her heart, heard her plea and granted her request.
Hannah replied to Eli, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went away, had dinner, and “her face was no longer downcast.” Now notice these next order of events – she wakes early with her husband, worshipped before the Lord, and returned home. When she gets home, she laid with her husband and “the Lord remembered her.” So, in time “Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Samuel.”
What does this say to us about our request, petitions and prayers to God? Do we just ask him on the fly, “Lord, make me successful in my business,”? Do we throw out flippant prayers, “ God use my influence to change my world,”? Or do we pray with earnestness what God has put upon our hearts? Do we kneel before him weeping, with sincerity of heart, seeking his will over our own desires? Hannah had prayed a lot in the Temple in Shiloh, but she also continued her prayer in worship and sacrifice the next day. She left that place and went home by faith trusting that God would give her a son. And what a gift he was, not just to her but to the nation of Israel.
It says a lot about “how” we ask. We don’t ask flippantly, but we ask faithfully. We live a life of prayer, worship and devotion to God. We turn from sin, repent for our wickedness, and realize that God has the better way. Hannah realized that and was living into this blessing. Her desire to have a son was from God in the first place. She wanted to honor the Lord with him and so God granted her request.
The question is not so much what you are praying for but how are you praying? How is the condition of your heart? What are your eyes seeing, heart revealing, and soul feeling for God? How can you ask in such a way that your cry to the Lord becomes a canticle of praise to God?
As the psalmist says, “The Lord is gracious and compassion. Slow to anger and abounding in love.” (Psalm 103.8). Live into that right now. Let his mercy wash over you and fill you with his love and grace. And he will give you the desires of your heart.
“O Lord God, I am but a sinner, saved by a loving, redeeming Lord. Thank you for the work in this world. For the battle for the souls of people, and for the battle for holiness, truth and love. Come now, Holy Spirit, help me walk in your light. Turn away the darkness and restore my heart to you once again. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen