Consider two people whose honest, powerful prayers came straight from the heart. Hannah prayed with joy over her longed-for son Samuel, dedicating him to the Lord. Samuel grew up to be the prophet who anointed King David, establishing Christ’s throne on earth. And David’s son Solomon, who built the magnificent first temple, prayed that the world would be blessed through this tribute to Yahweh.
1 Samuel 2:1-11; 1 Kings 8:22-61
The book of 1 Samuel opens with the story of Hannah, who lived in torment and despair until her prayer was finally answered. Then she offered a song of thanksgiving to God (1 Sam. 2:1-11).
How do you pray when God has granted your request?
- Hannah’s first words of thanks are “My heart rejoices in the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:1). In Hebrew, alats means “to rejoice, exult” and even “jump for joy.” What do you think “in the Lord” means here? How might these words change and even increase the experience of jumping for joy?
- Because of childlessness, Hannah was mocked and bullied. She asked God to provide her a son, and He did (1 Sam. 1:11-20). We cannot know why God, in His wisdom, grants some of our prayers and not others. But He always works for the good of His children (Rom. 8:28). Think of a request He’s granted you, large or small. Did you go to Him in thanks? Explain why or why not. Do you think Hannah’s gratefulness mattered to God?
- When might it be considered godly to boast over your enemies? Compare 1 Samuel 1:1-7 (especially verse 6) and 1 Corinthians 1:31. How is “boast[ing] in the Lord” different from “boasting so very proudly,” which Hannah accuses her enemies of (1 Sam. 2:1, 1 Sam. 2:3)?
- Verses 3-10 proclaim the Lord’s power and justice. As a believer, you receive many blessings because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, but you’re still subject to God’s discipline (Heb. 12:7). Describe a time He humbled you, as in 1 Samuel 2:7. Did your behavior change? Regardless of your circumstances, if you are in Christ, God has seated you “with nobles.” (See 1 Sam. 2:8.) Where do you see this in your life?
First Kings includes the story of Solomon, David’s son, who built an extraordinary temple for God. Chapter 8 records his prayer upon completing it.
- Sometimes God does something for us, and sometimes we do something for Him. Both are wonderful occasions for prayer! Solomon’s temple was a house for God and a glorious milestone in His people’s history. Think of a goal you’ve reached, however small, and offer it to the Lord for His glory.
- How is Solomon’s understanding of God’s power and justice (1 Kings 8:31-32) similar to Hannah’s? What does Solomon add about the divine attribute of mercy?
- Solomon prays God will bless others through his achievement—for example, by hearing, forgiving, teaching, and providing for them (1 Kings 8:36). In addition, he shows special generosity toward foreigners and a desire that even they might know and be blessed by God (1 Kings 8:41-43). How can you be like-minded as you thank the Lord for a goal you have reached?
When the heart is full, the mouth speaks.
- To Hannah, God gave the son she desired; to Solomon, the strength and wealth to build the temple he planned. Let their prayers of thanks inspire you with joyful words of your own—for God’s blessings of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
In Luke 6:45, Jesus said, “The mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (NIV). His words are both an encouragement and a warning. There’s a place for righteous anger in a believer’s life, but in general, we should speak graciously (Col. 4:6). And that means having a heart full of grace—one characterized by love, mercy, gratitude, and humility. Even if, like Hannah, you’re feeling triumphant and vindicated, God is honored when you place those feelings in the right context, remembering it is due to Him that you are blessed (1 Cor. 1:30-31). What is in your heart today?
- Jesus said childlikeness is essential to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 18:3). Is there a quality of trust and innocence in the prayers you’ve read in this study? How about in your own?
- Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Did Hannah and Solomon express this kind of wisdom? Consider how love and fear will coexist when your relationship with God is healthy.
- Generosity is foundational in a gracious heart. We could even say that to be gracious is to be generous. The Holy Spirit can help you love God, neighbors, brethren, and enemies. Take a moment to ask for His love to fill you. Then pour forth a generous prayer from deep within.
- God grants His children love, strength, honor, and countless opportunities to give. Pray with awareness of this in your heart. He might even bless others through you for generations to come.