Most people who discuss the story of Hannah and her prayer for a child consider it a great victory for the power of prayer in the life of a righteous person; these people should reread the text:
1 Samuel1:6 And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb.7 And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat.
Hannah regularly accompanies her husband to Shiloh to keep the feasts. Each time they visit God's house, her husband's other wife reminds her that God wants her barren. This opposer causes Hannah to develop a mar4751 or a destructive rage. She then took it upon herself to make an agreement with God without her husband's consent, lest he cancel her oath:
1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. 12 And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.
She promises any man-child born from her womb to a life of service at the Temple. This means her and Elkanah could only see her first born son three times a year at the pilgrimage feasts. Eli, reading her lips, finds her statements insane. He assumes the wine for Sukkot has made her swear something falsely and tries to run her off. She retorts:
1 Samuel 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.
Now she lets Eli know that the anger (ka 'ac 3708 ) and indignance (qashesh 7186 ) she feels towards God has justification. She has come repeatedly to the feasts and asked for children. God never gives her what she wants, now she thinks God considers her a daughter of another god or a person without worth in his eyes. At this point, she just wants to give birth to a boy and she doesn't even care if she gets to raise him and keep him.
Hannah always prayed for her own desires as a barren wife, and she has always prayed out of envy and covetousness against her husband's other wife. However by offering this deal to surrender the child to serve God all his life, she acknowledges God makes miracles for his own glory; not the glory of a dissatisfied and angry wife.
Eli confirms her oath. Then the High Priest sends her on her way.
Shortly after arriving home Hannah becomes pregnant. She gives birth to the boy Samuel and tells her husband about the secret deal she made. According to Hebrew law, for the next 24 hours he could overthrow the agree she made with God; however, her husband told her to do whatever she thought good. In other words, he confirmed she must give up this child because to keep an oath is by definition a righteous act. She kept the boy until she weened him and then came to keep her agreement and surrendered him to Eli the High Priest. She then, for the first time in her life as far as the text shows, profusely praised God:
1Sa 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. 2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God. 3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. 5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble. 6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. 7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. 8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them. 9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. 10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.
Her monologue showed the birth of Samuel had cemented a key fact in her mind: God makes the right decisions and we must accept them even when we want things our way if we expect to have good things in this life.
Later when she returned to the Temple with her husband she received a good word from God:
1Sa 2:20 And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home. 21 And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD.
God honored Hannah for keeping her word and for finally giving real respect and praise to the heavenly Father. He opened her womb and filled her life with children she could keep. Her life would now be filled with love everyday until the day she died.
The Story of Hannah shows the power of prayer in the life of a righteous person, but not until the later half of her story. At the beginning it shows how demanding things from God, even when we assume its what we are suppose to get, can have horrible ramifications; for instance, the heartbreak of limiting seeing your only child to once or twice a year. As we've seen in the other “Problem with Prayer” articles, we must make sure what we ask for corresponds to God's will for us (parallels the instructions of the Torah) and the examples of those people who spoke to God on behalf of all those who refused to speak to him (Moses on mount Sinai). Then we will see what James instructed saying:
Jas 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
He told the believers they would have to admit the Torah transgressions they had intentionally or unintentionally committed, then exchange their wishes for God's wishes, and then they could be healed of the toiling in sin. New believers would have to energetically seek to bind themselves together in covenant with God, then they could see the true victory over their own fleshly desires. For true prayer is to bind yourself to God's ways and to confess your ways as incorrect.