I Samuel 1:1-28
1 There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4 On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters, 5 but to Hannah he gave a double portion[b] because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6 Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7 So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”
9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.[c] Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants,[d] and no razor shall touch his head.”
12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” 15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 17 Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” 18 And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” Then the woman went her way and ate and drank with her husband,[e] and her countenance was sad no longer.[f]
19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”
21 The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22 But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.”[g] 23 Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish your[h] word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24 When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,[i] an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh, and the child was young. 25 Then they slaughtered the bull and brought the child to Eli. 26 And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence praying to the Lord. 27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28 Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” And they worshiped the Lord there.
Lots of the people around Hannah treated her poorly. Peninnah ridiculed her. Eli dismissed her as drunk. But Hannah prayed to God. And God listened. And the answer to her prayer was Samuel. Samuel would be a blessing to Hannah’s life, and a blessing to our lives, as he paved the way for faith in God to trickle down through the generations and wash over us. And Hannah’s link in this chain of God’s holy drama is that she prayed.
I don’t know the mind of God in all situations, but in the Bible I do see instances where God’s people pray. And the answer to those prayers is what the people needed.
Even when those around me are not encouraging it, let me kneel down to talk with you in prayer, dear God. And as I humbly tell you what I need, let me wait for you to provide. Amen.