Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard the phrase “pouring out our hearts before the Lord” come up in my thoughts during my prayer time. I was led to start reading in 1 Samuel about Hannah.
The Bible tells us that Hannah’s heart’s desire was to have a child. Time and time again over the years she was left wanting, unsatisfied, and heartbroken due to her lack of a child. It impacted her emotionally, physically, culturally and within her own home she was tormented by her husband’s other wife because of what she could not produce on her own. The Bible also tells us that her husband did not fully understand why she could not let go of this desire of her heart that was causing her so much emotional distress. He asks her in 1 Samuel Chapter 1 and verse 8, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?”
Have you ever experienced a time in your own life when a desire for something so deeply embedded in your heart failed to come to fruition? Have you felt heartsick when year after year you still carry an unfulfilled promise from God? It can cause you to doubt yourself and to doubt God.
I felt for Hannah as I was reading her story because there is nothing more frustrating in life than trying to “figure out” why. Why, when you have done all you know to do is the very thing you desire still out of reach. Our human nature wants to decipher where we went wrong when the desire to see the promise fulfilled is something we cannot walk away from.
If you read further in Chapter 1, when Hannah went before the Lord, something was different. What struck me the most in this chapter was at one point she tells Eli the priest in verse 15 “No, my lord, I am a woman or sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”
When I saw this paragraph, I could not stop praying and listening. It struck me how she talks about speaking out of the abundance of her complaint and grief until now. The abundance of her complaint and grief to me represents praying from our understanding or the mind.
There are times when we can find ourselves praying from the questions, I call it the “who, what, when, where, why’s?” Have you ever done that in your prayer time? Who will fix this? What do I need to do? When is this going to happen? Where is the promise God? Lastly “Why hasn’t it happened by now?” We are praying or worrying the problem over and over in our heads and we think we are giving it to God, but it stays right there between our ears. What is coming out of our mouths as we are speaking to God or to others is doubt, not faith or trust in God’s promise.
It was interesting when I read her words “until now.” To me that is what changed. Hannah changed. In verses 12 and 13, it explains a difference in her prayers that even Eli noticed. In verse 11, Hannah makes a vow before the Lord. In verse 12 it states that Eli was watching her mouth as she prayed. In verse 13, it says “Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore, Eli thought she was drunk.”
Hannah was pouring her heart out and the priest thought she was drunk. Another opportunity to speak out of the abundance of her complaint and grief. However, this time she did not take the bait. She simply explained to Eli that she was pouring out her heart to the Lord. He could not hear her voice, only saw her lips move. Her voice could only be heard from the depths of her inward self. Her voice, her petitions, her prayer could only be heard by God.
When she explained to him what she was doing, Eli said “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So, the woman went her way and her face was no longer sad.
I began to meditate on this chapter and how Hannah’s circumstances could be like our own at times. Then I was led to the 4th Chapter of Philippians, verses 4-9.
Philippians 4:4-9 NKJV
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
As new testament believers, baptized in the Holy Spirit, we have been given the opportunity to take everything before God and pray in the Spirit. When we worry the problem with our thoughts, our words of doubt and fear, we have no expectation of God’s goodness toward us which is evident in the gift of His Son, the gift of His Spirit, and the word of his power.
Every request we could ever have, or every problem we could ever face can be brought before God as we pray in the Spirit with the foundation of his word. In that place we are praying from our hearts and not just our limited understanding. God then reveals wisdom, answers, a new way of thinking, and certainty that he is working in us and in our situation. He increases our faith and trust in Jesus as the provider of all things we will ever need. We are changed in His presence.
Paul goes on to tell us how to stay in that place of certainty and trust. How do we do it? We guard our thoughts once we have prayed from our hearts and left our cares, concerns, and requests with God. This is not something that comes naturally for most of us. Our experiences in life have taught us the circumstances should be our focus (those are the what if statements we rehearse from time to time). In the face of circumstances, why not ask “What if God’s word is true?”
- What if God does supply all my needs according to His riches in glory?
Philippians 4:19 NKJV
- What if I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13 NKJV
- What if my prayers are heard by God?
1 Peter 3:12 NKJV
Father I pray for those who are reading the blog. I pray that they would come to know and trust you in a way that they have never experienced before. I pray that the depth of their relationship with you would expand in their thoughts but not just there, I pray that their hearts would be open to receive the fullness of your Son and the truth of your word.