April 9 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.”
~1 Samuel 1:17

The two books that bear Samuel’s name usher in a transition period for the worshipping community. The “dark ages” of the judges gives way to the hopeful early days of Israel’s monarchy. God uses Samuel the prophet to identify and appoint (anoint) the kings of Israel. Today’s reading introduces both Samuel, seen here as a young boy, and the faithful mother who bore him.

At this period, in Israel’s capital city of Shiloh, a temple of sorts stands. Scholars believe it was a semi-permanent structure built with materials from the original tabernacle. To this place of worship comes a woman named Hannah, who is on an annual pilgrimage with her husband for one of the God Fests. Every year, she begs God to answer her prayer for a son. On this occasion, she is praying silently, perhaps so she does not disturb the other worshippers, but is observed by Eli, the high priest. She is in such anguish, her desire is so great, that the priest thinks she is drunk and rebukes her. Once the old priest hears the whole story, he replaces condemnation with blessing, and in time, God grants Hannah’s request. She names her son Samuel, which in Hebrew sounds like “heard of God.” So God did hear Hannah. And Samuel would hear God and become a great prophet.

Do you ever pray like Hannah? Do you pour out your heart to God in anguish? Or ask Him for something your heart desires? Yes, you can pray for something you want. There’s no use trying to distinguish between wants and needs when we come to God in prayer. Hannah really had all she needed, including a husband madly in love with her, but she wanted a son! Even Jesus’ anguished prayer in the garden began with what He wanted God to do, but how He ended is how we should end our prayers as well: “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42). If you aren’t sure how to pray, let me make it simple. Pray for what you need and want, and pray fervently. Then end every prayer with “but let Your will be done.”

Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.