(Message 1) Have you ever been in anguish? Many of us experience the pain of lost dreams or have our expectations crushed by things out of our control. When this happens, what’s your response? Do you get angry with God and move away from Him, or do you move in close? Join us in this series and our first message, “Sam I Am – Praying Like Hannah”. #GCSamIAm
1 There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. 3 Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. 4 On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. 5 And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. 6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. 7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. 8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”
1 Samuel 1:9-11 (NLT)
9 Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle. 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”
1 Samuel 1:12-18 (NLT)
12 As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” 15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.” 18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad.
Start talking. Find a conversation starter for your group.
Have you ever been made fun of for something you can’t help? For example, your name, a physical feature, your level of income, etc. How did you react to it?
Start thinking. Ask a question to get your group thinking.
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-8. Why do you think Peninnah was so cruel to Hannah? Did Elkanah help or hurt the situation?
Read 1 Samuel 1:9-11. How did Hannah handle her pain? How do you normally handle pain in your life?
Why do you think Hannah dedicated her son to the Lord before he was born?
Read 1 Samuel 1:12-18. After Hannah’s prayer, her mood changed but her circumstances remained the same. Discuss this.
Start sharing. Choose a question to create openness.
Hannah was in deep anguish because of her barrenness. Is there anything in your life that has caused anguish, confusion or discouragement? What role has your relationship with God played in helping to solve the problem? Hannah’s barrenness was engineered by God, yet Hannah cried out to God for the solution. What implications does that have for your life?
It seems counterintuitive for Hannah to want a son so badly that she was willing to give him back to God after a brief time. Can you imagine wanting something so desperately that you would be willing to only enjoy it for a short period before letting it go? Why would you be willing or unwilling to make that sacrifice?
When confronted with deep pain, do you turn toward God or away from him? Why?
Just like the sin of polygamy in the story of Hannah, many of our other Bible heroes committed sins like adultery and murder.How might each of us use the sins we’ve overcome and those with which we’re currently struggling in service to the Kingdom?
Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.
Commit this week to praying like Hannah, humbly and boldly giving everything over to God.
Start praying. Be bold and pray with power.
Father, thank you for loving us so much that you allow the circumstances of our lives to draw us closer to you.Please help us to continue to be transformed as we give everything over to you, giving thanks and faithfully trusting that you will hear us and provide. -Amen