I recently taught a Sunday school lesson on Hannah and her prayer in 1 Samuel 1. It turns out that Hannah’s story is about far more than intensity in prayer.
It is about a woman who poured out her heart to everyone but God. And it is about the change God worked in her when she poured out her heart to Him.
As a cross reference, we looked at Psalm 142—another account of someone who poured out his heart to God. This time, it was David in a cave.
In the seven verses from Psalm 142, we drew five reasons it is wise to pour out our hearts to God.
1. Because God Hears
I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication. I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.—verses 1–2
Even when you pour out your heart to a friend, she may or may not accurately interpret the cry of your soul. God always hears, always understands, always listens with compassion.
2. Because God Knows
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path.—verse 3
We see endless cycles of overwhelming pain. God sees our experience differently—He sees a path. A way out. A way forward. A journey.
3. Because God Cares
In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me. I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.—verses 3b–4
Frankly, friends have limits. They can only bear the weight of your heart so long. But God cares indefinitely. When no one else understands or cares, He does. And His compassion is new every morning.
Furthermore, God is our refuge.
I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.—verse 5
He invites us to pour our hearts out to Him. But like Joseph Scriven noted, we often pass up on the opportunity.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer.
4. Because God’s Timing Is Perfect
Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.—verse 6
David wrote this Psalm while hiding from Saul. But he wasn’t hiding from Saul forever. God did deliver David, and it was in God’s perfect timing—for David, for Israel, for larger purposes beyond anyone’s understanding.
5. Because God Can Change…Me!
Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.—verse 7
From the depths of the cave, David didn’t just pray, “Bring me and my army out of here.” He prayed, “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name.”
We usually pray for God to free us from our circumstances, caring little about the prisons of our souls. But what if God wants to deliver us from self more than we want deliverance from our situation?
What if we prayed, “Change my circumstances, but first change me!”
When God Pours in His Grace
Interestingly, Hannah’s name means “grace.” When she poured out her soul to the Lord, He poured in His grace. The lady we see in 1 Samuel 2 is a changed woman from the previous chapter.
Hannah, intent on one desire alone—having a son—was transformed into a lady who freely gave that son to God…and joyfully worshiped Him as she did it.
God granted Hannah’s request, but the process of prayer—pouring out her soul to God—changed her. What she received wasn’t as big as what she found—the faithful sufficiency of God!
Do you have an overwhelmed heart? Pour it out to God.
He hears, understands, cares, is sovereign, and can change you even as He works in your situation.