Scriptural Giants: Hannah’s Prayer


Hannah was very sad because she had no children. She knew the importance of bearing children and teaching them about God, and she longed to be a mother and hold her own baby in her arms.

A woman of deep faith, Hannah loved the Lord and knew that He would help her. So when she went with her husband, Elkanah, on their annual journey to the temple in Shiloh to worship and offer sacrifices to the Lord, Hannah didn’t just offer her sacrifice. She entered the temple to make a special covenant with Heavenly Father. Her heart was so full that she began to cry as she quietly but fervently prayed: “O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and … give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life.”

As she continued to humbly pray, Eli, the high priest in the temple, saw her. He did not know Hannah, nor did he know that she was praying. He saw only that her mouth was moving and that no sounds were coming out of it. Finally, deciding that Hannah must be drunk, he went over to her and asked, “How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee.”

With a voice full of sadness, Hannah replied, “I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.”

Eli, seeing how wrong he had been, now comforted Hannah. “Go in peace,” he said, “and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.”

Hannah then left the temple, her sadness gone. The next morning she and Elkanah worshipped at the temple once more before returning to their home in Ramah.

Not long after this, Hannah’s prayer was answered. She gave birth to a baby boy and named him Samuel, which means “Name of God,” because she had “asked him of the Lord.”

Hannah loved her son very much and was very happy. But she did not forget her promise to the Lord. When Samuel was probably about three years old, she took him to the temple in Shiloh and presented him to Eli. “I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the Lord,” Hannah reminded him. “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him.” Hannah then explained that she had promised to give the child into the service of the Lord.

And so Hannah gave Samuel, the son whom she had waited and prayed so hard to have, to Eli to be raised in the temple and to serve the Lord all the days of his life.

Once more Hannah prayed in the temple, joyfully praising God and His works. After she returned to Ramah, leaving her beloved son to serve the Lord in the temple, He blessed Hannah and Elkanah with three more sons and two daughters.

Hannah did not forget Samuel. Every year she made him a new coat and took it to him when she went to the temple to offer the yearly sacrifice and to worship the Lord.

[illustration] Illustrated by Robert T. Barrett