We pray spontaneously, according to our needs, or those of our dear ones, and present our requests before God. We rejoice when our prayers are answered, we praise God, and rightly so. But there are things in the heart of God, His needs and His concerns, which we may not know unless the Holy Spirit makes them known to us as we wait in His Presence.

The Scripture says, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. … And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them his glory.” (Rom 8:26-28, 30; NLT)

Hannah was chosen, called and given a right standing with God. So the Holy Spirit helped her to pray in harmony with God’s will, with groans she couldn’t express. Her desire was a son, to fill her empty womb. Emptiness is a vacuum, and vacuum has the power to hold. Her emptiness attracted God.

Elkanah, her husband loved her, but couldn’t understand her. He said to her, “You have me, isn’t that better than having ten sons?”(I Sam. 1:8) How could she explain the difference between what she had and what she needed? No reply.

Penninah, her rival wife “would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children.”
(I Sam 1:6) Oh! How unbearable to be mocked by human beings when God was dealing with her! No reply.

Eli the priest misunderstood her to be a drunkard; “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”
“Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine … Don’t think I am a wicked woman! (1 Sam 1:14-16). The Hebrew word for ‘wicked woman’ is ‘daughter of Belial’. Belial (worthlessness) is later used as a name for Satan (2 Cor. 6:15). How it hurts when priests, prophets or pastors misunderstand us, or think of us as worthless!

Though surrounded by emptiness, misunderstanding, mockery and accusation, the Holy Spirit helped her. He opened her eyes to see the need in God’s house – it was empty too. She waited in God’s Presence, and heard Him: ‘Hannah, do you think only your womb is empty? My house is empty too. Do you think only you are misunderstood, taunted and mocked? I face the same, in multiples. Do you think people don’t recognize your worth? I am not recognized by My people either. The ox knows its master and the donkey its manger, but My people don’t know Me.’ Through her pain, she was able to understand God’s pain. She heard him and felt the emptiness in God’s house. Thus she could pray this godly prayer of dedication:

“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.” (1 Sam 1:11)

When she clarified about her pain and prayer to the priest who was incharge of God’s house, God responded to her through Eli, ““Go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of Him.” “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again and was no longer sad.” (I Sam. 1:17-18) Hannah knew that God had heard, and would answer her. She was confident that God would enable her to keep her vow, too.

Samuel was born!

When we bring our desperate needs before God in prayer, and wait in His Presence, He shows us what is in His heart. There may be precious lessons awaiting us there – lessons that He alone can teach. Those may be the reasons behind our obvious needs. We need to ask, “What is God trying to tell me through this situation?” The Holy Spirit reveals to us the will of God, and helps us to pray meaningfully.
Do we see the weighing balances in God’s hand? The heavier side is His need to save His Creation by giving birth to sons and daughters of light to deliver the groaning creation from the oppression of the enemy. Like Hannah, do we hear His pain at His children being mocked, robbed, scoffed and misunderstood? If only we be emptied of our self, Satan and the temporal things of the world, then we can be filled with the Presence of God. He is waiting to give us children of light.

Like at the beginning of Creation, the Holy Spirit of God is hovering over the Church to shed light in the darkness, to bring order where there is chaos, and to fill our emptiness with His fullness. May the Spirit of God help us to offer godly prayers – prayers that are in harmony – aligned with His will, and receive answers according to His bountiful resources.

Mrs. Meena Baraiya, is a retired bank officer, and a freelance writer. She lives with her husband Kirit in Ahmedabad

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