Giving Our Ordinary Desires to Our Extraordinary God
Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.” Now it came about, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli was watching her mouth. As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, “How long will you make yourself drunk? Put away your wine from you.” But Hannah replied, “No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured out my soul before the Lord. Do not consider your maidservant as a worthless woman, for I have spoken until now out of my great concern and provocation.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.” She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad. (1 Samuel 1:9-18 NASB1995)
From agonizing over her infertility to feeling peaceful after asking God for a child, Hannah experienced a range of emotions when she met with the Lord. In her distress, she “prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly” (v. 10) as she “poured out [her] soul before the Lord” (v. 15) and afterward “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad” (v. 18). What an emotional experience!
We can see more emotions flowing from her heart in the next chapter. After she nursed Samuel and dedicated him to God, she praised Him joyfully. Here’s just a portion of it:
…“My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation. There is no one holy like the Lord, indeed, there is no one besides You, nor is there any rock like our God. Boast no more so very proudly, do not let arrogance come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and with Him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty are shattered, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full hire themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry cease to hunger. Even the barren gives birth to seven, but she who has many children languishes.” (1 Samuel 2:1-5 NASB1995)
It's natural to wonder how Hannah was able to experience such deep emotions throughout this short account. What was her secret to feeling the way she felt? How can we have quiet times that are that emotional and heart-stirring?
Well, there’s no magic formula here for how to have the kind of relationship with God that Hannah had. And God wants our lasting love, not merely our emotional moments. But I want you to be encouraged by this: Hannah was an ordinary woman with an ordinary desire, but she had faith in an extraordinary God. So humbly give your desires and emotions (or lack of emotion!) to Him each day. Trust Him with everything, just like Hannah did.
- Find a Scripture reading/memorization style, a prayer style, and a worship style that fit you best. Find God-honoring ways to do these things, but make sure that you’re not trying to force certain quiet time styles because they can cause unnecessary discomfort or distraction.
- Don’t waste your energy obsessing about how emotional you are during your quiet time. God wants our hearts, not our conjured-up emotions, so direct your focus to Him.
Grace enjoys spending time with her family, hanging out with friends, and watching her favorite TV shows. She is the author of Real Recovery: What Eating Disorder Recovery Actually Looks Like (2022). She shares her struggles at her blog,Tizzie's Tidbits of Truth.