In 1 Samuel 1 there’s a story about a woman who had one more prayer than she had answers. She was her husband’s favorite wife, but her rival taunted her by constantly reminding her of her barrenness.

Had her faith been weaker, her barrenness might have become a stumbling block, but it was not so for Hannah. Instead, she fled towards the presence of God. Like a small child, she made her request over and over again, even while weeping bitterly. Her fervent prayer was so outstanding that the priest Eli observed her and was convinced that she had one too many before coming to the tabernacle that day.

You may know the rest of the story. God intercedes on Hannah’s behalf and grants her a boy, Samuel. (Samuel sounds like the Hebrew phrase heard of God.) Hannah did what she promised and dedicated the boy’s life to the service of God.

Samuel had an amazing “career” as a minister. It got off to a difficult start when he had to rebuke the last great judge, Eli, on account of his worthless sons. He anointed Israel’s first and second kings, and he made a begrudging post-mortem appearance to set the then-apostate Saul straight.

It’s fitting then, to know that even before his birth, he was the subject of intense prayer. Jeremiah’s prophecy had a similar backstory. God told him outright, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

Prayer is powerful. I saw a note the other day that said “Do you want to change your preacher? Pray for him.” Jesus said we should pray for our enemies. He prayed for his disciples, for the church, and even for the city that rejected him. Who are you praying for today?