Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. (Luke 18:1)
Hannah was full of sorrow because she could not have a baby. Every year, Elkanah, her husband, and Hannah traveled to Shiloh to worship and give annual sacrifice to the LORD of hosts. Year after year, Hannah prayed for her baby because she could not have a baby. She wept before the LORD, God. She could not eat due to her pain in her heart. One year, her heart was much heavier than other years with full of sorrow due to her inability to have a baby. Her husband comforted her, but her deep sorrow remained in her heart. Thus, she went to the temple, and she looked up heaven in anguish, crying while holding her hands on her heart as she prayed to God. And she made this vow: “O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the LORD, his hair will never be cut.” (1 Samuel 1:11)
She was so much into her prayer with her heart. Her lips were moving, but no sound was made out of her mouth. Eli, the priest of the temple, watched her, and he thought that she was drunken. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”
“Oh no, sir!” Hannah replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the LORD. Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”
“In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”
“Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.
She believed her prayer was given to God, and God heard her prayer. God opened her womb, and gave her a male child, Samuel. (The meaning of Samuel is God has heard.) Yes, God heard her prayer out of her deepest part in heart – the contrite, authentic, earnest and God’s-help-seeking prayer with absolute trust on Him. Surely, God answered her prayer, and Hannah experienced God, who was compassionate and full of mercy. She was in great joy, which she could not described in any words.
As Hannah promised to God, she waited until her son was weaned. Then she brought her son, Samuel to God. She sacrificed to God a three-year-old bull for the sacrifice and a basket of flour. After the sacrifice, she took the boy to Eli, the priest.
“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the LORD. I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the LORD, and he will belong to the LORD his whole life.” And Hannah, Samuel, and Elkanah, Samuel’s father, worshiped the LORD there, and left Samuel with Eli so that Samuel be with God.
Then Hannah prayed and praised God:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
“There is no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God. (1 Samuel 2:1-2)
Samuel ministered before God under Eli the priest. He grew in the temple, and in favor of God and man also. Samuel became one of the most faithful prophets before God, who led the Israelites to God till a king was appointed. The Hannah’s earnest and contrite prayer out of her deepest part in heart was answered, which did not only lead to a great joy to Hannah, but also God’s blessing to the entire of people of Israel. This is the power of an earnest prayer of one person, Hannah.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years! Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops. (James 5:16b-18)
Elijah, one mere person, prayed to God for rain on the land of full of sins, God was gracious and full of mercy. When Elijah earnestly pray to God with all of heart and mind, God heard and answered his prayer. There was no rain for 18 months. The sky was always blue, and nobody could see even one single cloud in the blue sky. The prayer of Elijah, one faithful person, was powerful and answered. Initially, one small cloud appeared against the blue sky. His servant spotted it over the horizon as shown in the figure. Then the sky was getting darker and darker, and the sky opened up and poured the much needed rain on the bone dry land. The entire people in Israel was in joy including Elijah and his servant.
It is also true that praying continually to God is not easy because our God is not visible. It is much easier to rely on someone whom we can see or something that we can touch. However, Jesus said “you should always pray and never give up,” and gave a probable. There was a judge in a certain city,” Jesus said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to His chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will He keep putting them off? I tell you, He will grant justice to them quickly!” (Luke 18:6-8a)