God Wants Our PrayersAugust 2, 2023 - 12:00 am
Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.”
“Not so, my lord,” Hannah replied, “I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the LORD.” — 1 Samuel 1:13–15
Prayer in Judaism is defined as “the work of the heart,” which profoundly changes the nature of prayer from one of entreating God to an act that transforms who we are—not what God does. These devotions focus on different facets of prayer and what lessons we can learn about the power of our prayers.
Anyone who has been to the Western Wall in Jerusalem has witnessed people of all backgrounds whispering their deepest prayers to God, tears streaming down their cheeks. This experience is so common that the holy site is often referred to as “The Wailing Wall.”
However, today’s Scripture teaches us that this is not always how we prayed. Hannah, a barren woman, poured out her heart to God at the Tabernacle in Shiloh, begging for a child and promising to dedicate him to God. The way she prayed was so unusual that the priest, Eli, scolded her for being drunk. Hannah explained that she was simply crying out to God. In doing so, she revolutionized the way we pray.
God Wants Our Prayers
Hannah taught us that prayer can be a deeply emotional and personal experience in which we speak to God in our own words. She also demonstrated that our prayers should not remain in our hearts. When our thoughts materialize into words on our lips, we have the power to affect our reality. Hannah’s request was granted, and she gave birth to the prophet Samuel.
The Jewish sages wonder why God made so many holy women barren, including the matriarchs—Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. The sages explain that God made these women childless because He desires the prayers of the righteous. But why would God want His people to suffer for His own needs?
Prayer is not for God’s benefit, but for ours. By praying, we grow and change. By connecting to our deepest desires, we appreciate what is really important in life. And by turning to God in moments of grief and gratitude, we deepen our relationship with Him and become people of faith and humility. God wants our prayers because He wants us to be the best versions of ourselves.
Your turn: Take five minutes every day to speak to God in your own words from your heart.