The Shiloh Supper: A call to impatient praise!

It was more than a meal, it was a yearly feast at Shiloh where Elkanah had brought his two wives, Phinennah and Hannah, for a sacrifice. In the course of tradition, Elkanah gave a portion of food to his wife who had bourn him sons, but to Hannah who hadn’t, he gave a double portion. Vexed as she was because of her barrenness, Hannah could not complete her supper at Shiloh, and instead, left the table to retreat to a place of prayer. Surely the Lord would hear her prayer of anguish and bless her accordingly.

While in surrendered prayer to the Father, she prayed in silence moving only her lips to convey her requests to God. Eli, who had been watching nearby, assumed she was drunk for only the righteous pray out loud. When confronted she answered his charge and clarified her intentions.

She had prayed these words to the Father: “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Samuel 1:11, NIV). What an audacious request during what most would consider the most inopportune moments. The reality of her circumstance so troubled her heart that she couldn’t fully participate in the Shiloh supper. She had been given a double portion because of the unfairness of her predicament and was even accused of being intoxicated. At this point in the narrative should we feel sorry for her, or question the decision to exchange tradition for personal gain?

When we find ourselves broken and in desperate need of an answer from God, what are we to do? Should we pretend and go through the motions of faithfulness, or do what Hannah did?

As we “unpack” this narrative we are faced with some obvious truths. First, life moves on regardless of our personal anguish. Second, depression is a normal human response to anxiety. And third, God is the appropriate object of worship and recipient of praise even when the answer seems elusive. Jesus instructs His children to “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” Matthew 7:7-8, NIV).

James, the half-brother of Jesus, said about the subject of persistence: “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord” (James 1:6-7, NIV). It makes a difference what you believe when you pray. If you believe that God is able, but also that He is willing, your persistent prayer will be answered.

Hannah received an answer to her impatient prayer because it was important to her to be heard, but also answered. Her faith commitment to dedicate her child to the Lord should He answer her prayer is much more than a down payment of desire. In other words, it’s not that she wanted it so badly, it’s that the faith of her heart depended on God to gift her by grace.

Have a persistent prayer? Step away from the table, offer God the desires of your heart, and see what He does in response.

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