"Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the LORD and wept with many tears.... Hannah was speaking to herself, and although her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard." - 1 Samuel 1:10,13 HCSB

Hannah's barrenness caused her tremendous misery. She knew she was the infertile one in her marriage because Elkanah's second wife, Peninah, had had several children. Aware that Elkanah preferred Hannah, Peninah taunted her mercilessly, saying that Hannah's barrenness was a judgment of God. Elkanah, though he loved her, was insensitive to her pain saying, "Why do you weep? Why don't you eat? Why do you feel bad? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"[1]

The whole family visited the sanctuary in Shilo to commemorate the Feast of Booths, which celebrates God's blessing on the year's crop. This emphasis on fruitfulness only made Hannah's barrenness that much more unbearable.

She went to the temple and began praying, but she didn't simply kneel, carelessly pray a ritualistic prayer and walk away. Hannah was in deep anguish and cried bitterly as she prayed her vow to the LORD.[2]

Later that year, God gave her a son she named Samuel. As soon as the boy was weaned, she took him to the temple and gave him back to God where he spent the remainder of his days serving in the temple. Hannah subsequently gave birth to five more children, three boys and two girls.

Notice that it took her going to the temple to really get down to spiritual business. She had surely prayed at home! We can pray anytime, anywhere to God. However, sometimes we need a special place that we consider especially holy to get our hearts truly honest with God.[3]

Hannah was so emotionally involved in her prayer that the priest thought she was drunk! If we want to get answers to our prayer, we need to completely abandon our natural reserve and pour our hearts out to God. However, though she wept bitterly and her lips moved, her voice was not heard. We shouldn’t make a huge show of our prayers. The battle for emotional and spiritual transparency we are discussing is an inward, private battle.

Sometimes it helps to let our lips move with our prayers. Few of us have the requisite mental discipline to keep our minds from wandering when our prayers are entirely silent. To counteract that problem, we may allow our lips to move to keep on track without letting our voices be heard so that our prayers remain strictly between us and the Father.

Finally, keep in mind that she fulfilled her vow. We mustn’t be one of those "foxhole Christians" who only pray when we need something. "O God, if you'll do this for me, I do..." some pray but when God answers, they fail to fulfill their vow. We cannot think that God, who sees the future, will bless our prayer when He knows full well we will not keep our word.

[1] 1 Samuel 1:8

[2] 1 Samuel 1:11

[3] Matthew 6:6