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1 Samuel 1:9-15 NASB
"But Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman oppressed
in spirit; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have poured
out my soul before the Lord."
Most of the time it is a relaxed conversation, a part of the fiber of
my daily routine. Other times it is ceremonial, orchestrated, rehearsed.
At times it is forced, and dutiful, springing out of obligation and discipline.
And then there are those rare moments when it consumes me. When it erupts
from my core until my soul pours out before the Lord. In those moments-those
soul-pouring moments-I do more than say my prayers-I brush up against the
divine. I long for those moments-those rare moments when I pour out my
soul to God and don't hold anything back.
But at the same time, I fear those moments. I feel like a small child
standing at the side of the pool deciding whether into jump into his father's
arms or not. God demands my soul along with my mind and my body-He wants
it all. We don't usually talk about it, but it is easier to be in control,
than out of control. It is easier to be needed than needy. It is easier
to live with the illusion that I'm OK and I can make it on my own. Yet,
I know that God wants me to be spiritually bankrupt before Him, totally
dependant upon Him-vulnerable. So the struggle within me constantly churns
as I capitulate between control and surrender. Between just living and
being willing to pour out my soul. When I choose to "just live," there
is something missing inside me, a feeling of being out of sync with the
universe and its creator. A yearning begins to percolate in my core that
screams out to reconnect with God. In the 42nd Psalm, David
wrote, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you,
O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and
meet with God?  My tears have been my food day and night, while men
say to me all day long, 'Where is your God?'  These things I remember
as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the
procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among
the festive throng.  Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed
within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and
 my God." (Psalm 42:1-5 NIV)
When he wasn't connecting with God, David's parched soul withered away.
Without nourishment, save his tears, the only voice he could hear was from
his doubting friends. From his spiritual desert, the memory of walking
with the Lord intensified his soul's throbbing. And when there was nothing
left to do, he poured out his soul-longing to reconnect with the connecting
David was desperate for God. I know that I will never pour out my soul
until I am desperate for Him. Not desperate for God's blessings but desperate
for Him. Or to put it another way, there is no room for God in my life
until I've poured out my soul. Until I'm emptied of my ambitions, preferences,
uniqueness, idiosyncrasies, pride, abilities-down to my core, including
my soul-God does not take up residence. As long as I believe I can handle
life, I will not pour out my soul. There must be a dis ease in my soul,
before I'll pour it out.
Often times God uses what we call "unanswered prayer" to cultivate the
dis ease of our soul. Of course, the prayer is answered because "no" or
"wait" is an answer-it just isn't the one we want to hear so we call it
"unanswered." Have you ever thought about the arrogance of the phrase-unanswered
prayers? God often uses the very thing we're praying for Him to remove
to woe us into a right relationship with Him. Job cried out, "And now my
soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon
me." (Job 30:16 KJV)
Hannah had a dis eased soul that precipitated her soul pouring. 1 Samuel
1:10 says, "And she, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly."
(NASB) She was greatly distressed-she wept bitterly. This is a woman with
a heavy heart-a dis eased soul. There was a human root to the dis ease.
Her husband's other wife teased her, without mercy because Hannah was barren.
Barren-a harsh word for a harsh reality in her culture. In many ways her
worth, her justification for existence hinged upon her having children,
or at least she thought. The human root might have stirred up her dis ease
that led to her pouring out her soul to God, but it also became one of
the things that she would need to pour out. Those who are willing to be
a success for God are legion. Those who are desperate for God and want
Him even if it means being a failure are the blessed few. Would Hannah
have been willing to be barren for God if that was His will for her? Kelly
Williams faced a similar question when he was launching a new church start
in Colorado Springs, Colorado. During the initial stages, the attendance
fluctuated, but never got over a handful. One night, nobody showed up and
Kelly faced the fact that he might not be cut out for church planting,
that he could fail. As he flirted with quitting, he opened his bible for
his daily quite time to John 10 and read Jesus' words about the good shepherd
that lays down his life for his sheep. "...as he read, Kelly heard God's
voice. I know you are willing to be a success for me, but are you willing
to be a failure for me? Are you willing to lay down your life for these
sheep? His open Bible opened his heart. 'Yes Lord, yes!' Williams prayed.
'I'll lay down my life for these sheep. If it is Your will, this is the
hill I'll die on, I'll fight to the bitter end.'" (Future Church, p. 155)
When we pour out our soul, we may begin with our desire, but if we truly
pour out our soul, we will end with His will. Speaking of Jesus, Isaiah
wrote, "Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall
divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto
death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin
of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." (Isaiah 53:12 KJV)
Where did Jesus pour out is soul, at the cross? Perhaps-certainly it was
"unto death." At Gethsemane? Absolutely. In the garden, he said, "'My soul
is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch
with me.'" (Matthew 26:38 NIV) I believe the soul pouring Isaiah wrote
prophesied took place in the next verse when He prayed, "'My Father, if
it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as
you will.'" (Matthew 26:39 NIV) His dis ease had a human root-"this cup"-the
agony of the physical crucifixion and spiritual separation from the Father.
But notice how His prayer ended, "not as I will, but as you will." Those
are the words of a man whose soul has been poured out to God.
Hannah's dis ease wasn't a passing fancy-she was determined. Verse 12
says "she continued praying before the Lord," and in verse 15 she says,
"I am a woman oppressed in spirit;" The word "oppressed" has a stubborn,
determined connotation to it. She was driven by a strong desire-she was
determined as she prayed. She wasn't a searching soul; she approached the
throne of grace boldly making her request. She came ready to state her
case before God and state it she did-not in an arrogant, demanding sort
of way, but with a humble, needy attitude.
When she poured out her soul to God, Hannah made a vow to the Lord,
"'O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of Thy maidservant
and remember me, and not forget Thy maidservant, but wilt give Thy maidservant
a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and a
razor shall never come on his head.'" (1 Samuel 1:11 NASB) Is she simply
bargaining with God in this verse, treating Him like her puppet? I don't
think so, look at the content of her vow. She promises to give her son
back to God. She wasn't manipulating God, bargaining with Him to get what
she wanted. She wasn't praying her will, she was praying His will evidenced
by the fact that she wasn't praying for a son to have, but a son to give.
A son that would be a champion for God and would walk in His will. A son
fully, and wholly dedicated to God from the womb to the grave. And God
gave her what she requested. "And it came about in due time, after Hannah
had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel,
saying, 'Because I have asked him of the Lord.'" (1 Samuel 1:10 NASB)
When is the last time you poured out your soul? When is the last time
you prayed and didn't hold anything back-a time when everything in your
life was negotiable except your desire to follow God's will? Are you ready
to launch out on that lifestyle?