Summary: If prayer is supposed to be the most important part of the Christian life, why does it seem to be the most confusing topic? It’s the one thing that we know we have to do yet we seem the most unwilling to do.
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Intro: It’s confusing and sometimes doesn’t make sense ... even to other Christians
12-14 It so happened that as she continued in prayer before God, Eli was watching her closely. Hannah was praying in her heart, silently. Her lips moved, but no sound was heard. Eli jumped to the conclusion that she was drunk. He approached her and said, "You’re drunk! How long do you plan to keep this up? Sober up, woman!"
Prayer is the one thing that we know we have to do yet we seem the most unwilling to do. It’s not necessarily that we don’t “want” to do it, it’s just that:
It seems like a whole lot of extra work
It seems like it takes a lot of extra time
It seems like it takes a lot of extra commitment
It seems like it’s one of those things only the “expert” Christians can do
It seems like most folks just don’t know how to do it
It seems like you have to have the “words” and the lingo
Sometimes it’s a private conversation
9-11 So Hannah ate. Then she pulled herself together, slipped away quietly, and entered the sanctuary.
It’s OK to slip away by yourself. Jesus even did it several times through the Scriptures.
The priest Eli was on duty at the entrance to God’s Temple in the customary seat. Crushed in soul, Hannah prayed to God and cried and cried—inconsolably.
Then she made a vow:
If you’ll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.
Listen to what she’s saying:
There’s no starting poem, or scripture, or quote, it’s just God
She’s just sharing her heart
I never liked Little House on the Prairie until I got older. And as I began to watch it I actually began to appreciate somethings. Whenever someone prayed, they put their hands together, and looked up, and just began talking. Nothing formal or rehearsed just talk.
Look through the Psalms, and you’ll hear stories of a man named David who just talks to God. Sometimes he’s happy, sometimes he’s not. Sometimes he’s just had enough, sometimes he’s lonely, sometimes he needs refreshment, sometimes he’s filled with joy, sometimes he’s happy and just can’t contain it all ... but all the time he’s just sharing his heart.
Let’s not just take someone’s heart and hang it on the wall as the way to “properly” pray, but just learn from someone’s heart as a way to pray properly.
PS: let’s not forget what WE tell God, too.
Sometimes it’s not private
15-16 Hannah said, "Oh no, sir—please! I’m a woman hard used. I haven’t been drinking. Not a drop of wine or beer. The only thing I’ve been pouring out is my heart, pouring it out to God. Don’t for a minute think I’m a bad woman. It’s because I’m so desperately unhappy and in such pain that I’ve stayed here so long."
17 Eli answered her, "Go in peace. And may the God of Israel give you what you have asked of him."