Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 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 1:10-11)
Hannah had good reason to feel discouraged and bitter. She was unable to bear children; she shared her husband with a woman who ridiculed her (1:7); her loving husband could not solve her problem (1:8); and even the high priest misunderstood her motives (1:14). But instead of retaliating or giving up hope, Hannah prayed. She brought her problem honestly before God.
We may face times of barrenness when nothing “comes to birth” in our work, service, or relationships. Praying in faith can be difficult when we feel so ineffective. But, as Hannah discovered, prayer opens the way for God to work (1:19-20).
Hannah so desperately wanted a child that she was willing to strike a bargain with God. God took her up on her promise, and to Hannah’s credit, she did her part, even though it was painful (1:27-28).
Although we are not in a position to barter with God, he may still choose to answer a prayer that has an attached promise. When you pray, ask yourself, “Will I follow through on any promises I make to God if he grants my request?” God keeps his promises, and he expects you to keep yours.
Do you feel desperate—like Hannah, pleading with God for an answer? Keep praying . . . and pleading. God hears, and he loves and will answer. In the meantime, thank him for his answers and keep faithfully serving him.