Over three thousand years ago, Hannah lived in Israel. In Hebrew, Hannah means God’s grace. Every year, Hannah made a pilgrimage to worship at the shrine at Shiloh with all her aunts, uncles, cousins, and family. They all brought their tithes, offerings, and pledge cards to God. During the festival week they worshipped, barbecued, danced, and played games together.
Every year at the festival, one of Hannah’s relatives made fun of her without stopping. Pearl would brag about her children, but Hannah did not have children. Sometimes Hannah would cry and wouldn’t feel like eating the special holiday meals. Hannah’s spouse, Elkanah, would try to comfort her, but Hannah still felt sad.
One year, Hannah was very upset about all the bullying. She went into the church and prayed. She couldn’t stop crying as she prayed, “Lord, just look at your servant’s pain and remember me! Don’t forget me!” Do you think it is okay to be sad when you pray? Did you know the Bible tells us Jesus was sad and cried when a friend died, when people were mean to others, and when he prayed in the garden during Holy week? Prayer can help us get quiet inside. Prayer can help us figure out just how we are feeling. The Bible tells us that “God comforts people who are sad and discouraged and sometimes God comforts us with people who love us.” ( 2 Corinthians 7)
As Hannah was praying, a priest named Eli watched her carefully. Hannah prayed from deep in her heart; her lips were moving, but she said nothing. Eli thought Hannah was acting weird. Can others tell what you are feeling just by looking at you? How can we know what someone is feeling?
Eli forgot to ask Hannah how she was feeling! Eli said, “Why are you acting so weird?” What would you do when someone says something mean to you? Hannah told the truth; she said, “No! I am not some weirdo. I’m just very sad. I have been pouring out my heart to the Lord. This whole time I’ve been praying because I am worried and sad!” It is okay to sometimes say “NO” to people when they are wrong about us. How do you think Eli felt when hearing that Hannah was very sad?
Eli felt sad and sorry. Eli said, “Oh, wow, I’m sorry.” Eli and Hannah talked about how she was feeling. When Hannah was done praying, Eli, the priest, offered Hannah a blessing: “Go in peace. And may God give you what you’ve asked for.” Hannah went back to the festival tents and rejoined her family. The Bible said that Hannah was no longer sad. She ate the holiday meals. Knowing that God and other people loved her, Hannah found courage to tell Pearl to stop bullying people. We can hope that Pearl learned to pray about her feelings!
How does it feel to tell someone how you feel? God cares about our feelings. Does it help to tell someone when you are feeling sad or afraid? Hannah felt better after talking with Eli! Do you think God uses can our listening to help others feel better?
A few years later, Hannah was very happy. She wrote this prayer in a journal. Hannah’s prayers and her talking with Eli helped her speak up! The people who edited the book of 1 Samuel put Hannah’s prayer in the Bible. They felt her story and prayer helped other people live better lives. Hannah is a prophet. A prophet is someone who tells us things that help us grow closer to God and treat others with Love! Let’s hear Hannah’s prayer:
“The Lord has filled my heart with joy.
I feel very strong in the Lord.
I can laugh about my enemies.
I am glad because you have helped me!
There is no one holy like the Lord.
There is no God but you.
There is no Rock like our God.
Don’t go around bragging.
Don’t say mean things .
God who knows everything.
Only God can really judge what people do.
Do you take time to pray? Maybe you can sit quietly and think about God, good things, people you love or how you feel. You can write a prayer, poem, or song to share your thoughts with God and other people. You might draw a picture or talk to someone about God! All of these things can be a kind of prayer! These spiritual practices can help us take care of ourselves and each other! Let’s be brave like Hannah, who was not afraid to cry, to speak up, and to write down what she was thinking! God uses people like Hannah to make our world a better place to live. You can do that too!