“And Hannah answered and said, ‘No, my lord; I am a woman of sorrowful spirit.  I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord’.”

I Samuel 1:16

So often our most “effectual, fervent prayers” (James 5:16b-18) arise from a barrenness of soul and sorrowful heart.

Travailing prayer.

That’s the type praying Hannah was doing that day when Eli mistook her for one who’d had too much to drink so early in the morning (vv.12-14).  Such was not the case, as Hannah was so quick to point out; instead, she said “I’m a woman of sorrowful spirit and have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.”

Powerful prayers do not always have to be couched in words.  In fact, quite often our most effectual prayers are little more than “groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26c).  Or, sometimes, as Spurgeon described them, they’re our “tears, which are briny rivulets of liquid prayer that point us to God’s Throne of Grace and Mercy” (Ps. 56:8).

But, one thing is certain about “travailing prayer that becomes prevailing prayer:”

It’s always born out of a specific need and desire of a laboring soul—a soul that will not rest “until it receives God’s blessing” (Gen. 32:26).

We must remember that a woman’s barrenness was seen as a curse from God in Hannah’s day.  That’s why she so desperately wanted a child.  And, her great “sorrow of soul” was further compounded by Peninnah’s mocking and her husband’s insensitivity (vv.2, 6-8).  Thus, so often our “wrestlings with God in prayer” (Gen. 32:24-26) are solitary struggles where we “tell it to Jesus alone”—knowing that no one else will sympathize or understand.

Thankfully, the Lord led Eli to let Hannah know that “the God of Israel would grant her petition she’d been asking of Him” (v.17).  And, thankfully, like Mary, Hannah basically said “Be it unto me according to your word” (v.18a; Lk. 1:38) and “went her way, did eat and her countenance was no more sad” (v.18b).  How wonderful it is when, by faith, we receive assurance from the Heavenly Father that He’ll “give us the desires of our heart” (Ps. 37:4) in His own time and way and we rest in that Promise.  Hallelujah!!

What are you needing from the Lord today, Pilgrim?

For whom have you been praying for so long and have begun to grow “bitter and sorrowful in soul” (I Sam. 1:10)?  Do not lose hope or give up; instead, rest on God’s Promise that “if you see your brother (husband, wife, friend, child, parent, etc.) sin a sin, which is not unto death (the unpardonable sin—which is the hardened heart and willful rejection of Jesus as Savior and Lord), you shall ask and God shall give him (the one you’re praying for) life (Grk. ‘zoe’—‘eternal life’)” (I Jn. 5:16a).

Always remember that some of God’s most bountiful blessings spring up from great barrenness (Ez. 37:1-14; Joel 2:25-26).  Therefore, keep “pouring your soul out to Him” and rest in the assurance that “His Eyes are open and His Ears are attentive to your cry” (II Chron. 6:40; Neh. 1:6) and “in due season you’ll reap if you grow not weary” (Gal. 6:9).

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated November 19, 2010

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