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Chapter 1

Theme: Assurance in Prayer
Focus on: Hannah
Reading Portion(s): 1 Samuel 1 to 2:26.
- Important Background Information
- Helps you find strength in God
What this article teaches you
There are moments of great praying in our lives. It happens when there is great anguish because of unfulfilled needs. The pain becomes intense when others make us an object of teasing because of the lack of something in our lives. This makes us pray with great hope and longing and much tears.

During such intense moments of prayer there will come a time when suddenly the burden will be lifted from your mind. It is the moment of God's answer. Even though no visible sign of the answer might be seen you can now stop praying and start thanking God for the answer. It will definitely come. For the assurance that God gives is as good as the answer itself.

Hannah was barren. This caused her intense grief. In fact, this grief was doubled because her rival who had children kept provoking her. And her rival was none other than Peninnah, the other wife of her husband Elkanah.

And every year they went to worship the Lord Almighty at Shiloh. The day when Elkanah would offer his sacrifices always became a day of Hannah's grief. This was because her rival's provocation was very intense whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord.

This is a lesson for us. It is when we try to seek God in the midst of our spiritual barrenness that provocation might come. It hurts us most when it comes from those who are near and dear to us. It stings when we see that they are full and we are barren. Here we see that Peninnah who provoked Hannah had children while Hannah had none.

We also see in Hannah another quality. In spite of such great provocation from Peninnah, Hannah showed the courage to go to Shiloh with all of them year after year. This example from Hannah tells us that we should keep on seeking God in spite of every teasing word that others may say to us.

As we look at Hannah we find that her grief was beyond comfort. Peninnah's provocation would continue till Hannah wept. Elkanah used to give a double portion of the meat to Hannah on the day of sacrifice because he loved her. Yet because of her grief she would not eat. Nor would the kind and loving words of Elkanah comfort her.

And one day when they had finished eating and drinking, Hannah stood up. Her bitterness of soul was so great that she wept much and prayed to the Lord. And she made a vow to the Lord. She promised God that if He would grant her request by giving her a son she would give him back to God all the days of his life.

And Hannah continued to pray. No more words could be heard. Her heart might have been so much burdened with grief that she could not speak. Only her lips moved. No voice was heard.

This is an example of great praying. It is the prayer that stops not till it is fully satisfied with praying. Many of our prayers do not reach anywhere because we do not persist in praying. Or our need has not so burdened us that we cannot but keep on praying. But prayer like that Hannah now prayed storms the fortress of heaven. It is such praying that prevails with God.

Yet such praying can easily be misunderstood; that too by people whom we suppose are supposed to understand us best. Here we find Eli the priest thinking that Hannah was drunk. And he rebuked her.

Yet Hannah did not talk back like we often do when rebuked unjustly. She humbly tells the priest that she is not drunk; but that she was pouring out her soul to the Lord because of her great anguish and grief.

On hearing this; even without asking her what her need was, the priest gave her his blessings. He asked her to go in peace and blessed her by wishing that God would grant her what she had asked of Him. It is surprising that the priest did not ask her what her need was. That again proves that her grief was very intense. The priest gave his blessing because he now understood this intensity of grief that troubled Hannah.

Then Hannah went her way and ate something. Her face was no longer downcast.

This is a dramatic change. Till now she was in grief. She had refused to eat. Now all had changed. The words of the priest spoke to some deep need within her. It totally and dramatically changed her. She no longer prayed. What had made the difference? It is the assurance that God put within her heart that her prayers were heard which made this difference. The priest and his words became the channel through which God impressed this assurance in her heart.

This is the assurance that we get in prayer. Even when there is no visible sign of the answer to our prayer we will no longer be downcast. We will find strength to go about our daily activities as if we had already got the answer from God. This assurance is not something that we can generate in our minds on our own. It is a result of great praying. There comes a moment when the assurance of God impresses itself upon our hearts. Then we know that our prayers have been heard. And the time taken for the answer to reach us is no longer a matter of concern.

In prayer, it is important that we pray on till we reach this moment of transition. It is at this point that the burden is lifted from our hearts and the peace from God fills the vacuum instead. Many of our prayers are never answered because we have not prayed enough. In other words we have not kept on praying till we received the assurance in prayer.

God may use different persons or methods to imprint this assurance in our hearts. And from the moment this assurance reaches our hearts we can stop praying. This is because the assurance that God gives is as good as the answer itself. It carries with it the surety of God's answer.

Coming back to Hannah, we find that in due time God answered her request by giving her a son whom she named Samuel. Hannah had great joy in her life because of his birth and she praised God. And he grew up to be a mighty prophet of God in Israel.

God also gave Hannah much more than she asked or hoped for. As she and Elkanah went to the house of the Lord year after year, Eli would bless them. He blessed them by saying that God may grant unto them children to take the place of Samuel; for whom she had prayed for and given to the Lord. This blessing bore fruit in their lives. God was gracious to her and she gave birth to three sons and two daughters.

The lesson from Hannah's life is very important. Her prayer teaches us the importance of keeping on praying till the assurance from God descends into our burning hearts with peace.

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