“Hannah wept…She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:7, 10).
Dale Davis notes that there is a myth which circulates around the church that runs along the line that Old Testament believers didn’t have the ‘freedom and personal approach in prayer that we do’. But, as Davis observes, the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 puts paid to that myth. Hannah pours out her ‘soul before the LORD’ (1 Samuel 1:15) and “how can you doubt that she has found the same throne of grace and knows something of the same boldness with its occupant.” (Davis, 1 Samuel, p 16. The boldness reference is alluding to Hebrews 4:15.) Hannah is an example to us of the spirit of prayer, and Davis urges that we allow her ‘to instruct us in communion with God.’
I’ve been preparing a sermon on Romans 8:18-30 where Paul writes about the Spirit’s intercession for us in prayer:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:26-28).
The Lord working all things together for good in verse 28 is a New Testament classic verse. But its something which crosses the old and new covenant for, as Davis notes, this theme is in this Old Testament passage as well. Hannah prays in great distress and the Lord works things together for good. Put another way, Hannah is one with the Lord’s Spirit.
Davis’ highlights that it was Peninnah’s goading, mockery and malice (1 Samuel 1:6-7) which drove Hannah to her desperate prayer and that the Lord uses these things for his good purpose.
“As one looks back how crucial becomes the fact that Hannah was crushed with grief and moved to prayer. For Hannah this was grievous personal distress – yet in it Yahweh drove her to prayer through which he brought forth a lad who would shield his whole people. God moves our prayers and magnifies their effectiveness. The severe trial of Hannah proved to be the salvation of a whole people. Without Penninah that may not have been the case. Do we owe it all to Peninnah? Certainly not. We owe it to the God who takes even the smirks and digs and venom of Peninnahs and uses them to fill a cradle with another kingdom servant. Can we not see the wonder of Israel’s God? Can we not see the comfort of his people?” (Davis, 1 Samuel, 22-23.)