“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God.”

1 Samuel 2:1.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Hannah ~ a woman of prayer

1 Samuel 1-2 

Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Penninah taunted Hannah for her childlessness. Every year, when the family went up to the temple to offer sacrifice to Yahweh, Hannah felt the pain of her infertility acutely. In addition to her sadness, she bore the pain and stigma of being barren in a society where a woman’s worth was tied to her ability to bear children.

In her distress, she shared her pain with God and her longing for a child. Eli, the priest of the temple, saw her and mistook her grief for drunkenness. She told him: “I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord…I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (1 Samuel 1:15-16) She begs God for a son and promises to dedicate him to God.

Hannah has a relationship with God in which she can freely express her pain and anger. These are no formulaic or sanitised prayers. 

Hannah is gifted with a son, and when she brings him to the temple, as she promised, she prays in joy and praise: “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God… He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes.” (1 Samuel 2:1,8) Hannah recognises how God lifts the humble and the lowly and turns things upside down.

Hannah’s song of praise is echoed by Mary when she is pregnant with Jesus.

Do we, like Hannah, believe that we can pour out our hearts before the Lord? That we can share our distress and even our anger at situations in which we may find ourselves? And in the moments of our greatest joy do we give praise and thanks to God.

Loving God,
In the painful situations of our lives, may we be able to pour out our hearts to you. May our life of prayer allow you into the most vulnerable places of our hearts, knowing that you see us and that you share in our sorrows and our joys

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell

Dr Annemarie Paulin-Campbell has worked in the area of Ignatian Spirituality for 19 years and heads up the work of the Jesuit Institute School of Spirituality. Her primary focus is the training and supervision of spiritual directors and the giving of retreats. She is also a registered Psychologist and her PhD focused on the interface between Christian Spirituality and Psychology. Annemarie is an editorial advisor to “The Way” journal of Spirituality and has authored a number of articles relating to the training of Spiritual Directors in an African context. She has contributed to several books, most recently co-authoring a book of Lenten Reflections: “Long Journey to the Resurrection”. She has contributed to international conferences and consultations in Spirituality in the United Kingdom; the United States; Rome; Spain, Ethiopia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

a.paulin-campbell@jesuitinstitute.org.za @annemariepc_c
See more from Annemarie Paulin-Campbell
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