“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26
Can you remember the last time you prayed to God without using words? What I mean by this is, just simply being still in His presence and letting Him speak through you. I can recall many times that I have had to listen to God speak instead of myself. Two very important things to know about praying to God is having hope in His promises and making sure that what you pray for is going to glorify God’s kingdom. The most profound story in the Bible about this comes from 1 Samuel about a woman named Hannah who desperately wanted a son:
“After 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. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And 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.”” 1 Samuel 1:9-11
Notice how she prayed bitterly. Hannah shared all of her heart to God about what troubled her. Hannah was being teased about another woman named Penniah. She was able to bore her husband children, but not Hannah. God had closed her womb. Hannah began to become very envious and wept. In the next part of the story is a key insight of how we should view our circumstances (good or bad).
“So 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. And 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?”” 1 Samuel 1:7-8
Wow. Her husband put it straight. “Am I more to you than ten sons?” Basically he is saying, why do you want more than what has been given to you? A lot of times I have to let God ask me this question. “I have given you life. I watched my own Son be betrayed, beaten, and died. Am I more to you than this world?” After Hannah had heard this, she went to the house of the Lord, prayed her heart out for a son. Not only that, she promised God she would give her son back to Him. Wow! That’s amazing! What a perfect example of an unselfish prayer. God heard her plea and then of course, bestowed her a son:
“They 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. And 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.”” 1 Samuel 1:19-20 ESV
You see, God grants us our prayers in His timing. Sometimes the answer is yes. And sometimes it is no. But no usually means God has something better. Be like Hannah. Instead of giving into the world and giving up on God, she prayed her heart out to Him and trusted. She prayed without ceasing.