Jan 14 (1 Sam 1:9-20 and Mk 1:21-28, 1st Week of Ordinary Time, Year 2, Cycle A)

“Surrender all to Him – just as you are – and find strength in the One Who empowers you!”

A young man, scanning across some books of the Parish library came across an interesting prayer card in one of the books.

The Prayer card read thus:

“If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”

>> If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”

>> If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”

>> But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!”

This simple illustration on Prayer teaches an important dimension of prayer: An attitude of surrender to the Divine and Loving Plan of God in all our prayers and petitions!

Today’s reading from 1 Sam 1:9-20 gives us a beautiful insights about Prayer…

… through the person of Hannah.

Hannah stands along with the other great women of the Bible…

… who also faced barrenness in their life – but later would experience a great intervention from the Lord, in His time

>> Abraham’s wife Sarah who bore Isaac

>> Isaac’s wife Rebekah, who bore Jacob

>> Jacob’s wife Rachel, who bore Joseph

>> Manoah’s wife, who bore Samson

>> Zechariah’s wife Elizabeth, who bore John the Baptist

Child bearing was considered to be a blessing from God…

… while barrenness was considered as a disgrace (Cf. Gen 30:1, 22,23)

Even in this situation of disgrace and humiliation that she faced in the society, Hannah displays a great sense of faithfulness and trust in God.

Hannah’s prayerful attitude is a big challenge to all of us:

>> Do I remain faithful to God even when things don’t seem to be working out the way I wish in life?

>> Am I able to see the Providential Hand of God even in the midst of humiliations and rejections that I face in life?

Hannah teaches us Five Important attitudes that we can adopt in our Life of Prayer

1. Come before God, just as you are!

“Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly!” (1 Sam 1:9-10)

Hannah makes no show or pretense of herself while coming to God in prayer.

>> She comes to God, just as she is – in all her honesty – with all her emotions and feelings.

>> She knows that Her God will accept her, love her and listen to her, just as she is

2. Be fervent and totally immersed in prayer

Hannah offers her prayers to the Lord being “deeply distressed and weeping bitterly” (Cf. 1 Sam 1: 10).

In fact, seeing Hannah, with all her emotions, Eli, the priest even gets confused thinking she is drunk

>> “As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk.” (1 Sam 1:12-13)

Hannah was totally focussed on the Lord and totally immersed in prayer…

… a prayer of the heart

… a prayer that emerged from the depths of her being

3. Be willing to offer your life and to make a commitment

Hannah’s prayer would not be just a request to the Lord

>> She was ready to also make an offering of Her life to the Lord

And so she makes a promise:

“She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a Nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head!” (1 Sam 1:11)

It was a prayer that contained the dimension of self-offering and giving oneself in the service of the Lord

4. Be ready to humble yourself and prepare your heart to receive God’s Blessing

Seeing her honest prayer, the priest Eli, makes a priestly pronouncement of blessing on Hannah.

>> Hannah receives this blessing with much humility, praying: “Let your servant find favour in your sight!” (1 Sam 1:18)

“Hannah” whose name meant “favour or grace”…

… humbles herself before God’s Power in the person of the priest and pleads to ‘find favour in His sight!’

5. Allow prayer to change yourself

After the time in prayer, Hannah – having offered herself to the Lord and willing to accept His Will in life – allows herself to be changed, renewed and refreshed…

…. “and her countenance was sad no longer!” (1 Sam 1:18b)

Prayer had brought about an attitudinal change in Hannah!

>> Does spending time with God in prayer bring about transformation and change in me – in my attitude?

Hannah – with all her disgraces and humiliations – showed great faithfulness and teaches us these five important attitudes for prayer:

1. Come before God, just as you are!

2. Be fervent and totally immersed in prayer

3. Be willing to offer your life and to make a commitment

4. Be ready to humble yourself and prepare your heart to receive God’s Blessing

5. Allow prayer to change yourself

Jesus was able to display much authority and certainty in His Ministry because He was a person immersed in prayer…

… intently focussed on doing the Will of His Father

As Christians, let us realize that our strength and confidence in life, ought to derive…

… from an authentic prayer life

… and an unflinching desire to seek and do the Will of the Father!

May we have an attitude of surrender to the Divine and Loving Plan of God in all our prayers and petitions…

… and thus allow “our hearts to always exult in the Lord!” (Cf 1 Sam 2:1)

God Bless! Live Jesus!

– Fr Jijo Jose Manjackal MSFS

Bengaluru, India


Quotable-quote-a-day-with-St Francis de Sales (SFS) – “If after all your efforts you cannot succeed…

… you could not please our Lord more, than by sacrificing to Him your will

>> And remain in tranquility, humility and devotion…

… entirely conformed and submissive to His Divine Will and Good Pleasure!”


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