Hannah's Prayer

Thursday:Hannah's Prayer
Story Passage: 1st Samuel 1
Other Passages: Matthew 6:24-34, James 5:13-20, Luke 18:1-8, Philippians 4:6-7
Objective: When we have problems, we should pray to God.
Visuals Available (updated 2016)
Memory Verse: from James 5:16, The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
Introduction: Footsteps
This week we're learning about people in the Bible, whose footsteps we should follow. Following their footsteps means doing the same kinds of things that they did, or being the kind of people that they were.
Story: Hannah
In the Old Testament, there's a story about a woman named Hannah, who was married to a man named Elkanah. Even though they had been married for a while, Hannah had no children. She wanted to have children, but she was barren. That means her body couldn't have kids. It wasn't her fault: sometimes a woman just can't have any children. It happens. And it was happening to Hannah. Other women were having children, but Hannah was barren. Hannah's husband loved her very much. He said, Am I not better to you than ten sons? But she still wanted children.
Peninnah had children, and she teased Hannah and made fun of her because she didn't have any. Peninnah irritated Hannah on purpose. This bothered Hannah, not just because she didn't like being picked on, but also because it reminded her of a sad thing – that she couldn't have any children. Hannah wanted children, and Peninnah knew it. Picking on her for it wasn't very nice, but Peninnah kept doing it anyway. Every time Hannah went up to the temple to worship God, Peninnah was there, picking on her, making fun of her for not having any children. This went on for years.
Hannah could have been angry at Peninnah. But what Hannah really wanted was to have a child. She knew that attacking Peninnah wouldn't solve her problem. Only God could give her a child.
So one year, when they made their trip to Shiloh to visit the temple*, when Hannah went up to the temple to worship the Lord that year, she prayed to God for a child. She took her request to him. Hannah didn't just pray real quick: Dear God, please give me a child, amen. She cried to the Lord, and she wept, and she prayed and prayed for God to see her misery and give her a son. And she promised that if she could only have a son, she would give him back to God: she would send him to work in the temple and serve the Lord.
As she was praying, one of the priests, a man named Eli, noticed that she was crying and her mouth was moving. He didn't know about her situation, so he didn't realize she was praying for a child. In fact, when he saw her lips moving and no sound coming out, Eli thought she was drunk! Then he spoke to her. He yelled at her for being drunk and told her to get rid of her wine.
Hannah told Eli the priest that she wasn't drunk, just deeply troubled and sad, and that she had been praying earnestly to God. Then Eli told her to go in peace. May the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him, he said.
And God did. Later that year, Hannah had a son. She named him Samuel, and when he was old enough, she took him to the temple to serve the Lord, just like she had promised. When he grew up, Samuel became a prophet and a leader, one of the most famous men in the whole history of Israel. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel, in the Bible, are named for him. And he was born because Hannah prayed to God. Hannah believed God could help her, and he did.
Application: Prayer
When there's something that you need, or that you want, do you pray, or do you just wish for it and forget to tell God? And if you do pray, do you really trust that God can answer your prayer? When we go to God, and we ask him for what we need, he listens. The Bible says that God loves us. He made the flowers, and he made them beautiful. He takes care of the birds. But he loves us more than the birds or the flowers. So when we ask him for something that we need, he's even more likely to give it to us.
Invitation: Prayer
Invite any children who want to learn to pray to stay after the lesson and discuss it further.
* - Traditionally, this temple has often been called the tabernacle. (This was before Solomon constructed the more permanent temple building in Jerusalem.)

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