This story is about a woman named Hannah who really really wanted to have a child. Every year she would go with her husband to a place called Shiloh.
While they were there, there would be a big festival and everyone would celebrate all that God did for them. They would thank God for their crops and everything God gave them, and give sacrifices or presents to God to show how thankful they were.
This sometimes made Hannah very sad because she wanted so badly to be thankful, but was discouraged because she couldn't have a child. That didn't mean Hannah moped around and felt sorry for herself but in her heart she was very sad. Her husband still loved her very much and tried to make her feel better but nothing seemed to work.
Finally Hannah did the only thing she knew that she could do to help her situation. One evening when they had finished eating and drinking Hannah went to the temple and began to pray.
When Hannah prayed she was very honest with how she was feeling. She sometimes cried a lot and probably felt like God had forgotten her. But while she was praying she promised God, "Dear God, if you would only look and see how sad I am and remember me, please give me a son. If you would do that for me I will dedicate my son to you for his whole life."
As Hannah was praying there was a man named Eli, a priest, who was sitting nearby and saw her. While Hannah was praying she was praying to herself, her lips were moving but Eli couldn't hear her say anything. We can pray just like this to if we need to, we can pray to God in our head so no one can hear.
Eli realized that Hannah was being very honest and truthful with God and he said to her, "Go in peace and may God answer your prayer." After that Hannah left she felt much better because she had talked to God about what bothered her. Early the next morning she even went to worship God before she went home.
You see, sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers, but we can't just be mad forever and not talk or thank God for all the other good things in our life. God knows what's best so there's always a good reason why he hasn't answered your prayer.
But a while later a great thing happened. God of course remembered Hannah (because God doesn't forget any of us) and gave her a son, and she named him Samuel.
Hannah had waited so long for this child and she loved him so much, but she remembered that she made a promise to God. Hannah was an honest woman and when she made a promise she meant it. Again, Hannah had a good attitude and wanted to give Samuel back to God, she wasn't mad at herself and change her mind. Hannah kept her promise.
When Samuel was old enough she went back to the place where she had prayed and said to Eli the priest, "Do you remember me? I am the woman that cried and prayed for this child and He answered my prayer. Now I give him to the Lord and I will leave him with you to learn and work with you."
So Samuel lived with Eli and every year Hannah would pack her suitcase and visit him and bring him new clothes. It might have been hard for Hannah to see Samuel only once a year but she wanted to keep her promise. God blessed Hannah again and gave her and her husband even more sons and daughters.
Samuel did very well while staying with Eli. Then one night something unusual happened. Eli and Samuel had both gone to bed and were having a nice sleep. When Samuel all of a sudden woke up, someone was calling him, "Samuel."
Well, Samuel thought it was Eli so he ran to his bed and answered, "Here I am; you called me?" But Eli said, "I did not call you; go back and lie down."
So Samuel went back to his bed. He didn't know this, but God was calling him. Just as Samuel got settled God said, "Samuel!" And Samuel jumped up and went back to Eli and said, "Here I am, you called?"
Again Eli answered, "No I didn't call you; go back to bed."
The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli again and said, "Here I am; you called me."
Eli couldn't figure out what was going on. He had been thinking who could be calling Samuel, they were the only ones there. Suddenly Eli realized there was only one other explanation so Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if you hear the voice again, say, 'Yes, Lord, I'm listening.'"
Sure enough, Samuel went to lie down and the Lord called again, "Samuel! Samuel!" So Samuel quickly replied, "Speak Lord, I am listening."
From then on Samuel knew when God wanted to talk to him and he always listened. God blessed Samuel and he grew up to be a great prophet or spokesperson of the Lord.
So Hannah did the right thing when she kept her promise to God. Her son Samuel helped many people know God better.