What does 1 Samuel 1:15 mean?Eli, the priest of the temple at Shiloh, has just confronted a woman he believed to be drunk. The woman is Hannah and she is praying fervently to the Lord. Her lips are moving, but her words are silent. Hannah is distressed because she has no children and her husband's second wife, who does have children, intentionally provokes her. She has vowed to God that if He gives her a son, she will give that son to God in service for his life (1 Samuel 1:1–11).
Hannah was in Shiloh with her family for an annual feast, which could be part of the reason Eli assumes she is drunk. After observing her apparently animated silent prayer in the temple, Eli told Hannah to give up the wine (1 Samuel 1:12–14). Here, Hannah explains the situation.
What the priest has seen, Hannah says, is her pouring her soul out before the Lord (Psalm 62:8). She has not had any alcohol that day. Rather, she is "troubled in spirit" and has been baring herself to God in prayer. Hannah does not detail the cause of her trouble, but she does explain she has been talking out of her "anxiety and vexation" (1 Samuel 1:16).
This beautiful expression—pouring out one's soul—captures what the Lord truly desires from those who are His. Hannah expressed everything she was feeling to the Lord. This is often not easy to do, but when we expose our hearts entirely before God, we are demonstrating active faith; we trust His love and His power. Prayer is not about saying a few correct words in the right order to make a request to the Lord. Prayer is communicating with a God who hears (Acts 7:34; Hebrews 4:14–16; 10:19–23). Many times, as in this instance with Hannah, prayer includes gathering up grief and worry and pain and throwing it away from ourselves and onto our good God (1 Peter 5:6–7).