Life Prayers - Hannah's Prayer of Anguish

Sermon from CCM Ladybarn


This sermon was preached by Andy Brownlee at the Ladybarn site of Christ Church Manchester on Sunday 27th January 2019.


This message was part of the ‘SERIES NAME’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Withington in EARLY/MID/LATE YEAR. The full series included the following sermons:


This sermon was based on 1 Samuel 1:1-28.

The Birth of Samuel

1There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. 2He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. 5But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

9After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

12As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” 15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” 

17Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” 18And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
19They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”

Samuel Given to the Lord

21The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the Lord and dwell there forever.” 23Elkanah her husband said to her, “Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him; only, may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son until she weaned him. 24And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and she brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. And the child was young.

26And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
And he worshiped the Lord there.


Who or What do You Worship?

  • In Hannah’s time, for a married woman being unable to have children had huge implications. Her whole worth, value and identity was tied up with being able to have children. I heard somebody describe it this way: Hannah lived in a culture where women were pretty much forced to idolise and to worship family and children.

  • Our culture tells us ‘you need to have this or that in order to have worth, value, security and fulfilment in life. You need to have a good career, a stable income, own a house and have a good pension. You need to have an exciting and fulfilling love life. You need to travel the world and see as many places as you can. You need to be fit and healthy, and the list can go on and on and on.  Whatever we spend our time and money on, whatever we think about more than anything else, that’s what we worship.

  • So the question is, are you trying to have it all? Who or what do you worship? What are the things you’re chasing?

Who do You Turn to When you are Suffering?

  • Some of the people around Hannah were not particularly helpful. Let’s try not to be like Peninnah or Elkanah. When others around us are suffering, let’s not judge or give hollow advice.

  • Let’s not get bitter or resentful towards people who’ve given us well-meaning but unhelpful advice when we’ve been struggling. Let’s keep being open and honest with those who are close to us.

  • But most importantly, God has to be our first port of call in our grief. We need to turn to our heavenly Father in our pain.

  • Have you ever prayed to God like Hannah does? Pouring out your heart to him. Telling him about your grief. Crying before him? Do you view God as safe and trustworthy where we can be completely open and vulnerable and pour out your soul to him?

When we Turn to God he can Transform our Perspective.

  • Hannah’s heart is changed and she finds herself laying at God’s feet the very thing which she has idolised and worshipped.

  • After she has poured out her soul to God, she has peace. Even though at this point her outward situation has not changed. She has found peace by trusting in God, by pouring her heart out to him and by worshipping him.

  • So God answers Hannah’s prayer. Let’s take encouragement from the fact that God heard her prayers and he answers them and he gave her a son! Hannah is that she remembers that her son is a gift from God. She also remembers the promise she made to God.


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