in her deep anguish hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly...hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard..."i was pouring out my soul to the Lord"
~1 Samuel 1~
listened to a sermon today about prayer and was convicted anew of my lack of attention to this area of my life, which consider to be quite important. so time to contemplate...
when i read 1 samuel 1 i was struck by hannah's model of prayer. first of all she is honest. i think we often feel childish praying to God of our heart's desires. we feel like we can't or shouldn't ask for things we want, in a grand attempt to display that we recognize that "His will be done." He is not so easily fooled though, He knows our heart and i believe He is pleased when we are just honest about what is on our hearts, what our spirits long for. such was hannah's prayer for a child.
the second thing about hannah's example is that she prayed to God in anguish. how often do i pray to God with such passion and zealous emotion? i too often treat it as a part of my routine, a ritual i must or should do as a follower of Christ. instead i should see it as the forum i can be most open, most myself. the venue to truly relate to my Creator things that i'm wrestling with, articulations of my utmost joy and most penetrating sorrow. i am too often robotic in prayer.
finally i was struck by hannah's example of praise-in-sacrifice. she prayed in anguish for a child, and then gave him back to the Lord to become a priest. how hard that would be to do, to give away the thing you prayed for, longed for, for so long. yet, look at the fruit that was born out of this sacrifice, this example of praise to God: samuel [hannah's son] became a great prophet, who ended up anointing david as king of israel...and Christ is of the line of david...all is traced back to hannah's prayer. the power of prayer never ceases to amaze. it was one prayer and look how many blessings, in a ripple effect, emerged as a result of a honest request and a praising heart.
prayer is really just a conversation with God, which out to have equal portions of speaking and listening. too often i think of prayer as me just laying out my woes to God...how infrequently i endeavor to listen for His half of the conversation. as with all forms of communication in relationships, honesty and openness are important. although it is true that God already knows our hearts, our thoughts, it pleases Him when we converse with Him, just as it pleases a parent when their child comes to them to speak of problems or joys, even when they already knew of them before the words were spoken.
so my encouragement to myself, and writing it here to keep myself accountable, and to anyone else who might happen to read this is to treat prayer as a conversation with God. come to Him honestly, do not shy away from conveying what is truly on your heart. see it as an investment in your relationship with Him, the best and easiest way to grow closer to Him. but also listen for Him, for what He has to say to you, show you. in the pouring out of our soul to God, as hannah exemplifies, God is able to use our lives to further glorify His name.