Motherhood as Mission

The Power of a Mother’s Prayer & Devotion to the Lord

John MacArthur:

“[Hannah’s] earnest prayer for a child was the beginning of a series of events that helped turn back the spiritual darkness and backsliding of Israel. She set in motion a chain of events that would ultimately usher in a profound spiritual awakening at the dawn of the Davidic dynasty. We first encounter Hannah when Israel is in desperate need of a great leader and a great man. Hannah became the woman whom God used to help shape that man. Samuel proved to be the one man who could fill the leadership void. His character bore the stamp of his mother’s influence, even though he left home at such an early age.”[1]

“Hannah obviously had a deep and abiding love for God. Her spiritual passion was seen in the fervency of her prayer life. She was a devout woman whose affections were set on heavenly things, not on earthly things. Her desire for a child was no mere craving for self-gratification… Hannah’s actions proved that she wanted a child, not for her own pleasure, but to dedicate him to the Lord… There’s no suggestion that she ever grumbled against God or badgered her husband about her childlessness. Hannah seems to have understand that [children are an inheritance from the Lord], so she took her case straight to the Lord. Despite her disappointment and heartache, she remained faithful to YHWH [the Lord]. In fact, frustration seems to have turned her more and more to the Lord, not away from him. And she persisted in prayer. That’s a beautiful characteristic, and it was Hannah’s distinctive virtue: constant, steadfast faith… She stayed before the Lord, even with a broken heart, pouring out tearful prayers. Her trials thus had the benefit of making her a woman of prayer. She truly exemplified what it meant to ‘pray without ceasing.”[2] 

(Image Source)

Here is the story of Hannah and her incredible devotion to the God who hears and answers prayer:

1 Samuel 1:1-22

“There was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephrathite. He had two wives. The name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other, Peninnah. And Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

            Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the LORD. On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb. And her rival used to provoke her grievously to irritate her, because the LORD had closed her womb. So it went on year by year. As often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. And Elkanah, her husband, said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?”

            After they had eaten and drunk in Shiloh, Hannah rose. 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. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

            As she continued praying before the LORD, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.” But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

            They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD. The man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.”

May the Lord give us such fervent faith and steadfast love that we look to Him, even when our hearts break–and we give every burden (as well as every gracious provision) over to Him for His purpose!! May the church of the next generation be filled with such godly, self-sacrificing women who raise their children for the King!!


[1] John MacArthur, Twelve Extraordinary Women (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2005), 94.

[2] Ibid, 96-97. This account of Hannah’s fervent prayer and steadfast faith is edifying and faith-building.

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