In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying,Lord Almighty, if you will only look on 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.1 Sam. 1:10-11
At first glance it would appear that this is a kind of bargaining prayer of Hannah's — that she is offering to give the boy back to the Lord only if the Lord will give him to her first so she can enjoy him. It is possible to read this account that way, but, if we look closely at it, we can see what is really happening here, for I am sure this is not the first time that Hannah has prayed at Shiloh for a son. All along she dreamed of having a son of her own, a little boy to love and cuddle, to teach him to walk, to read stories to, to watch him grow to manhood to become a strong, clean, fine young man, the pride of her life. She wanted him for herself, and she prayed often for that, but her prayer was not answered.
On this occasion, however, her prayer was different. Having worked through years of barrenness and having thought deeply about the problems, she realized for the first time something she had never known before. She realized that children are not just for parents — they are for the Lord. They are given to parents, loaned for a while, but the reason they are given is for the Lord to use. Certainly this account indicates that this little boy who was ultimately born (Samuel) was God's man to meet the need of a nation. Undoubtedly God had taught Hannah deeply through these hours of struggle over her barrenness, so in great distress and with intense earnestness she prays that God would have what he wanted, a man for his glory and his purposes, and that he would let her be the instrument of that blessing.
Immediately we read of a remarkable change in Hannah's heart, for the account says,
Eli answered, (1 Samuel 1:17-18)
Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him. 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.
Immediately, God's peace had begun to guard her heart and spirit. Now, the birth of the baby did not occur until months later, but when the baby was born she named him Samuel, which means,
Asked of God. God had granted her request, but there was peace in Hannah's heart right from that very moment of her prayer. This is a beautiful commentary on that well known passage in Philippians 4 where Paul says,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7). That is what Hannah experienced here. This is the mystery of prayer that is available to us to speak peace into our hearts when we are troubled by the circumstances of our lives.
Thank you, Father, for the peace that you can give me as I yield to you in prayer. Thank you that you know what I need and you know when I need it.
Our Father wisely denies petition motivated by self-interest. Rather than sulk, or blame God, shall we ask him to re-focus our hearts toward his will and glory? Have we been circumventing his peace by insisting he do it our way?