May 28, 2013
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 28 MAY 2013
Have you thought recently with regard to the manner in which you pray to God? To answer that question, let us consider the prayer of Hannah which is found in 1 Samuel 1:11. Having read her prayer, you will readily note that it is noteworthy for its liberty: there was nothing external or formal regarding the prayer. Hannah certainly knew the freedom to outpour her soul to God.
Similarly, the psalmist prayed, “I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare my trouble before Him. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path” (Ps 142:1-3a). Hannah teaches believers how to have communion with God. Outpouring one’s soul to God will not make Him uncomfortable, but believers should recognize the reality that God allows His people to outpour their distresses to Him, and with tears and intense sobbing if necessary. Indeed, spiritual victory was realized through the voice of her weeping (cf. Ps 6:8).
Eli’s false accusation of Hannah (1 Sam 1:14) later became a blessing (1:17). Hannah knew God heard her prayer, and returned to her family from the Tabernacle (1:18). God indeed answered Hannah’s prayer with the birth of Samuel (1:19-20).
Have you also thought recently with regard to the manner in which you give to God? To answer that question, let us also consider the prayer of Hannah. First Samuel 1:21-28 is focused upon the fulfillment of Hannah’s vow, which is associated with her prayer (1:11). Knowing a mother’s love for her child, Elkanah was hesitant (1:23). Hannah was determined to give to the Lord what He had given in answer to her prayer. Hannah is an example that God’s gifts should be given to Him. Four times in her dedication (1:27-28), Hannah used a form of a Hebrew root (“to ask”) which would be translated as follows: “For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my asking which I asked of Him. ‘So I have also dedicated what was asked to the LORD; as long as He lives he is asked to the LORD” (cf. asking in Matt 7:7 and Jas 4:2-3).
Hannah's words recall Eli’s benediction: “may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Sam 1:17). Even the naming of Samuel (“Because I have asked him of the LORD”) is a wordplay of the Hebrew root. Hannah recalled God’s blessing and then returned Samuel to the Lord. Hannah is an example of receiving God’s grace, and with such blessing, to have the capability of returning to God the gifts that He gives. Certainly, she is an example of praying not merely for herself, but with entire commitment to God for everything in life.
What Hannah desired most from the Lord, she was willing to give to Him. God’s blessing provides the capability of returning to Him what we receive by His grace to then be used for His glory; it is more important that God’s gifts be his than ours.
As those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, do we regard God’s blessings and His grace towards our nation to be opportunities to glorify Him? As believers, we give what we cannot keep to retain what can never be taken from us.