Read 1 Samuel 1:9-11
9 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. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 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.” (ESV)
Hannah was having a dreadful time. One of two wives of a man called Elkanah, she was barren. And the other wife reminded her of that fact often. Little wonder Hannah was distressed, angry, embittered. Life can do that to any of us.
What is interesting is that all this twisted emotion led her to prayer. We sometimes think that anger and bitterness and despair are obstacles to prayer. In fact they can be doorways to prayer. They are the twisted roots of our anguished prayers.
We don’t have to tidy ourselves up to pray. We don’t have to scour our souls so as to get rid of what might upset God before we approach him. We come as we are. True, we need to confess our sins, though in this case it doesn’t seem as if Hannah had a sin problem. She had a suffering problem. And she rightly saw that the only one who could resolve it was her God. No matter that he seemed to have abandoned her, she still figured he was in fact there and could in fact act.
And he did. She bore a son, Samuel, and the rest is history. God does not despise our anger, our bitterness, our despair. He will want to remind us of a greater truth, a broader context into which we might place our individual experience. But he accepts us as we are, desperate and confused. Prayer, after all, is not for those who have got their act together, but the means by which we may get our act together.