Day Two: The God We Pray Toby Kelly Minter
1 Samuel 2.1-10
The Spiritual Discipline of Prayer
Hannah’s prayers are some of my favorites in all of Scripture. And since she lived quite early in Israel’s story, she offers a solid foundation for our study on prayer. Hannah made famous the idea of pouring out one’s heart to the Lord. For context, Hannah lived during a significant transition in Israel’s history— the period between the judges ruling Israel and Israel’s monarchy. Her son, Samuel, would play a vital role in that transition, a reality that’s even more significant when you read Hannah’s story.
Let’s look at Hannah’s prayer of thanksgiving and praise.
Read 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
The line that gets me every time is, “It is not by strength that one prevails,” (v. 9, NIV). This resonates with me because I have tried so earnestly to achieve in my own power only to discover how limited my supply truly is. At Justice & Mercy International’s last Jungle Pastors’ Conference in the Amazon, my dad and I sat with Manoel, one of our favorite Amazonian pastors. Pastor Manoel was explaining his struggle to get people in his village to church. Eventually, he threw up his hands, smiling as broad as the Amazon River itself, and exclaimed in Portuguese, “I am filled with incapacity!” My dad and I laugh about this moment every time we rehearse it because to be full of lack is an oxymoron, yet nothing felt truer to our understanding of ourselves. How we all need the Lord the way Hannah and Pastor Manoel need Him.
I’m continually moved by the fact that Hannah never mentioned Samuel by name in her prayer. This absence certainly isn’t because Samuel was anything less than all she could have ever hoped for. I have to believe that in pouring out her heart to the Lord, in worshiping Him in the midst of her suffering, she ultimately found the Blesser to be far grander than the blessing.
The focus of our prayers is often on the answers we’re seeking, the much-desired change in our circumstances. But what if our focus is the LORD of Armies? What if we believed what Hannah believed about the Lord? That the God we pray to is far above every power and authority. That we have astounding access to pour out our hearts before Him.
Yes, we practice the spiritual discipline of prayer because prayer changes things. But we mostly practice it because it is through prayer that we commune with the living God, and He changes us.
PERSONAL REFLECTION: What is the most meaningful phrase to you in Hannah’s prayer at this season of your life and why?