These lessons from Hannah in the Bible are so powerful. Let’s be honest. Sometimes life throws some curveballs and you just don’t know what to do.
If you are looking for encouragement in life and prayer, Hannah is your girl.
A summary of the story of Hannah in the Bible
Hannah’s story is found in 1 Samuel 1 through to 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
In summary, Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah.
The other wife, Penninah had many children but Hannah had none.
What made matters worse was that Penninah provoked Hannah constantly about her barrenness.
During that time, the entire family had gone to the temple.
Hannah used the opportunity to pour out her heart to God about her desire to be a mother.
Because of how she was praying, the priest thought she was drunk and scolded her.
But when she told him of her troubles, he pronounced a declaration over her.
Some time later, God answered her prayers and she gave birth to a son whom she named Samuel.
How many years did Hannah pray for a son?
To understand the depth of Hannah’s pain, it might be helpful to have a perspective of the time she endured her situation.
Scripture does not tell us how many years Hannah prayed for a son but some Jewish sources say it might have been up to 19 years.
According to Jewish law, a married couple had up to 10 years to have children.
If they produced no children within that time, then a second wife can be taken by the husband to ensure that they follow God’s command to be fruitful and multiply.
But guess what?
It would have been the wife’s responsibility to seek another woman with whom her husband could have children.
Remember how Hagar came to be pregnant by Abraham?
This might explain how Peninnah got into the picture in the first place.
And this also explains why Elkanah preferred Hannah over Penninah.
Keep this little detail in mind as we explore Hannah’s story.
Let’s begin with the prayer she prayed.
What is the meaning of Hannah’s prayer
Hannah stands out in the Bible as both a heroine of faith as well as one of the greatest examples of the power of fervent prayer.
Two of Hannah’s prayers were recorded in the Scriptures.
I will only deal with the first one in this post.
What can we learn from Hannah’s prayer?
Hannah’s prayer called on a specific attribute of God
To open her prayer, Hannah addresses God “Lord of hosts”. This means lord of the mighty army. The term is used 260 times in the Old Testament.
Hannah recognized that this was a battle. This was warfare. She was under siege by her enemy.
So she needed the God of War to step in. Hannah was praying one of the names of God.
Depending on your situation, call on God and appeal to the attribute that applies to your situation the best.
Hannah’s prayer was specific in it’s request
Hannah was specific in her prayer. She asked God for exactly what she wanted: a son.
Then she told God exactly what she was going to do when her request was granted: she was going to give him back in service to God.
Hannah’s prayer reached God although it was silent
When Eli approached Hannah he thought she was trunk because he heard no words coming from her lips.
Apparently people would go to the temple in a drunken state after the fellowship meals were eaten.
But Hannah was far from drunk. In fact, she was more sober than she had ever been.
It’s just that her prayer went from her lips to God’s ears.
Her silent words were heard by nobody but God.
God listens to unsaid prayers too.
A wish. A desire. A thought. A sigh. A groan. A tear.
God recognizes them all as prayers.
Hannah’s prayer was accompanied by faith
Hannah received Eli’s declaration by faith. Her spirit was lifted. Her anguish disappeared. Her sorrow left.
She walked away as though Eli had told her she was already pregnant.
Hannah not only believed that God was powerful and mighty. She also was confident that God would use his might and power in her life.
5 quick tips for praying like Hannah
If you want to pray like Hannah, use these ideas.
- Address God with the name that match the attribute you want to Him use
- Tell God the truth of what is in your heart. Be detailed and specific
- Pray in faith
- Receive by faith
- Live in expectation
- Pray in thanksgiving
Uplifting spiritual lessons from Hannah in the Bible
In the Bible, the name Hannah means gracious. And boy, did she live out this name. Hannah’s life is rich to the overflowing with practical life lessons.
This post will certainly not exhaust them.
Here we go…
Lesson#1 – Don’t allow your tough situation to harden you
The first of the lessons from Hannah in the Bible has to do with an everyday situation that too many people can unfortunately relate to.
Not every house is a home, even when the people living there are believers.
Hannah was having a rough time at home. And that’s still putting it mildly.
Things were so bad she couldn’t even enjoy a meal.
Say hello to weight-loss due to stress.
It was not easy living with Penninah. She capitalize on every single moment to remind Hannah of her inability to have children.
Anyone would be justified in becoming angry and bitter and mean under such circumstances.
But, although Hannah had trying circumstances at home, her character remained strong.
But Hannah remained patient under persecution, just like Abigail.
Her temperament was not hardened. Instead, her spirit grew more and more towards God and her worship became more intentional and real.
Lesson #2 – No matter, what hold on to your spiritual life and faith
Very often when a crisis hits our lives, one of the first things to suffer is our faith.
But Hannah teaches us to hold on to our relationship with God even through trying situations.
This is one of the toughest lessons from Hannah in the Bible. Because it’s just not easy to keep going in faith when everything else seems to be falling apart.
Hannah was devout in her spiritual walk.
We see her going to the tabernacle anyway although her spirit was heavy with disappointment. She didn’t pull away from God. Instead, she drew closer to him.
Hannah remained consistent in her spiritual practices.
Even if it’s tough, even if you’re struggling, keep your routine. Read your Bible even if it feels like you can’t remember a thing.
Still attend church services even if you really don’t feel like going.
Hannah’s womb was empty but her spirit was full. And that got her through her tough days.
Lessons from Hannah in the Bible about prayer and faith
Lesson #3 – God fights for his faithful people
This is definitely one of my favorite lessons from Hannah in the Bible.
As I said earlier, Hannah recognized that she needed God’s warrior attribute to show up for her.
So her prayer was tailored for that.
God is in the business of fighting for his people.
And He always wins.
God will deliver his people because He is very much capable of protecting his own reputation.
My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high. My mouth boasts over my enemies, for I delight in your deliverance. (1 Samuel 2:1)
Hannah smiled at her enemy because she recognized that God showed up for her and lifted up her head from the shame she carried.
Lesson #4 – Prayers of faith almost always require patience
God answers prayers. But the answers are not always yes nor are they always immediate.
Sometimes the answer is: wait.
That was the reality in Hannah’s case.
The Bible says:
So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. (1 Samuel 1:20)
Hannah had to keep praying and believing. It took some time before the Word of promise was fulfilled.
Delay is not always denial. Sometimes God’s delays are just a set up for God to get the glory.
If you find yourself in such a situation, be patient. God’s timing is perfect.
Practical life lessons from Hannah in the Bible
Lesson #5 – God is faithful when well-intentioned solutions go really bad
It is very possible that a part of Hannah’s burden was blaming herself for what she was enduring with Penninah.
As mentioned earlier, if Hannah did not have children for her husband, it would have been her responsibility to find her husband another wife.
Sometimes decisions made with good and godly intentions can go seriously wrong and become a true thorn in the flesh.
Ever made a decision because you thought you had a great solution only to realize you have invited misery into your life?
Hannah’s testimony is one I can relate to on this point.
He knows our knowledge is limited and our wisdom is weak.
He gives mercy and grace and winks at our ignorance.
Lesson #6 – God cares about what you use to define your identity
Being unable to have children was a disgraceful and distressing thing for Hannah.
Firstly, the promised Messiah had not yet come and every woman in Israel hoped to be the chosen one to bring the Savior into the world.
Secondly, for the married woman she had the weight of responsibility of giving her husband a son to inherit all that he had worked to build as well as to carry on his name.
Having children and raising them well pretty much defined a woman’s existence back then.
Hannah felt her identity and usefulness melt away each time she was reminded of her barrenness.
It mattered to God that her self-worth was being destroyed by this unfulfilled desire.
Hannah was confident that it mattered to God as well.
And this is why she never stopped praying.
Lesson #7 – Even our enemies have their story too
This is one of the practical lessons from Hannah in the Bible that we rarely, if ever, think about.
As I read this story, I felt compassion for Peninnah.
Here was a woman who had given birth to many children for a man whose affection she had not managed to secure.
I imagine she was jealous of the love Elkanah had for Hannah but not for her.
I imagine how Elkanah must have looked at Hannah with a longing and a level of intimacy that Penninah never received.
I imagine how Elkanah must have been so tender and loving with Hannah, catering to her every want and need.
At the temple service, Hannah gets a double portion for her meal, although she had no appetite whatsoever.
Peninnah recognized that she was only as valuable as her ability to get pregnant. She would maybe have been respected but not necessarily loved.
This reminds of Sarah and Hagar as well as Rachel and Leah.
Which woman would be comfortable giving birth to children but not getting her need met for intimacy and companionship?
So while Peninnah’s behavior is not justified, life was rough for her too.
Hurting people hurt people. She deserves some sympathy.
Do you have someone in your life who’s just mean for apparently no reason?
Do some digging. What’s their story?
Lesson #9 – Hannah teaches us to be a person of our word
Hannah kept her promise to God.
It’s a funny picture.
We find ourselves in desperate situations and we go to God.
We promise and promise and promise that if we get what we are asking for, then we will do this or that.
The promise is forgotten when all is well in life.
The Bible has something to say about this:
When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Do not let your mouth lead you into sin. Ecclesiastes 5:4-6
Take a page from Hannah’s book. Keep the promises you make to God.
Lesson #10 – The magnitude of her gratitude was in Hannah’s gift
The last of the lessons from Hannah in the Bible has to do with her gift of her son back to God.
When she gave her son to God, Hannah gave to God in a greater way.
Let me explain.
Samuel was already dedicated to God because he was a levite. But Samuel was also going to take the Nazirite vow also.
Levite services was for 20 years of life and Nazirite was usually just for a set period of time that was short.
Hannah took all that to a whole ‘nother level when she gives Samuel back to God for his whole, entire life.
This was a greater measure of giving to God.
Hannah did not feel happy about leaving her son at the temple.
But she felt deep joy because of how grateful she was to God for an answered prayer.
You can only understand her gratitude if you knew her pain.
How’s your giving? How’s your gratitude?
Maybe start a gratitude journal and see where it takes you.
Final words on Lessons from Hannah in the Bible
We have looked at some seriously inspiring and uplifting lessons from Hannah’s life and prayer.
God continued to answer Hannah’s prayer. She went on to have other children after Samuel.
A life of prayer is indeed a very blessed life.
I hope you have been encouraged through these lessons from Hannah’s prayer and life.
I encourage you to find a Hannah Bible study to help you really spend some time digging into this inspiring Bible character.