Social Media Pt. 3

Set-up Proper Boundaries

“Liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.” – Edmund Burke

When you sit down to eat with a ruler, Consider carefully what is before you;And put a knife to your throat if you are a man given to appetite. Proverbs 23:1-2

Last week, we talked about some different techniques that media companies use to trick you into spending more time on their platforms than you realize you are spending. This week, we are going to discuss how you can counter these traps with some strategies of your own. You don’t have to use all of these techniques (I’m not your boss). Everyone is different, and some techniques will work better for you than others. Try the following and see what works best for you.

1. Clock-in, clock-out.

A big part of the trouble with social media is that it is an infinity pool of engaging content. We keep scrolling, watching, and swiping to find the one more thing that will satisfy us, and before we know it, hours have gone by.

One of the best things you can do to counter the infinity pool is to log your time on different apps. For some people, the simple fact of a timer running while you’re watching youtube videos will be enough for them to be conscious of how much time they are spending. If you need a little extra help in scaling back your time spent on instagram each day, you can download one of a number of apps and programs that lock you out of certain apps or games after you spend your allotted time on them each day (you get to set these limits in the program). You’ll find yourself asking “is this video worth my spending 8 of my 15 minutes that I allow myself on youtube each day?” More often than not, the answer will be no.

2. Make things inconvenient for yourself.

One of reasons why we instinctively check our social feeds during any break in our day is because we can. It’s easy, two clicks and we are in before we have even made the conscious decision to be swimming in our infinity pool of data. The designers of social media apps know this, and that’s why they push hard for you to download their apps or have your computer auto-log you into their site.

The easiest thing you can do to make your social media use more deliberate is to make logging in just a little harder. Log out of your youtube account after using it so you consciously have to enter

your username and password before you start watching streaming videos next time. Don’t download the facebook app, make yourself log into the website manually instead.

You can also limit the locations you access certain forms of social media. For instance, I only go on facebook on my desktop. This stops me from scrolling endlessly on my phone at restaurants or at work. It seems like a weird trick, but it works well for me.

Another variation of this is where you put your technology when it’s not in use. Some people are very disciplined at not carrying their phone around the house with them when they are home at night. If you leave your phone in the kitchen, you won’t be able to fall into the endless scrolling trap as easily.

3. Don’t browse right before bed or right after getting up in the morning.

Ever sit on your phone on the couch as you’re browsing instagram and thing “I’m too tired to go to bed”? It takes willpower to switch tasks, even if that task is going to bed, because it’s far easier to just keep scrolling, swiping, and watching videos. To avoid falling into the infinity pool trap when you are tired and lacking willpower, try setting yourself a buffer time of at least 30 minutes of no phone or internet before you go to bed and after you wake up in the morning.

To make this easier, I actually don’t bring my phone into my bedroom. I use an alarm clock to wake up (yes, they still make them), and read a book before I fall asleep at night. Again, deliberate inconvenience is your friend when reclaiming your time – if the phone stays in your kitchen when you’re home at night, you won’t be tempted to browse instagram one last time before you turn in for the night.

4. Don’t post angry.

If you feel your anger start to rise at something you read on social media, it’s time to step away from the technology for a while. Do not, under any circumstances, start posting. James 19-20 tells us

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.”

That’s exactly the opposite of what tech companies want you to do. They want you to get upset and engage with the content.


Right, because outrage drives engagement and engagement means they are getting attention, which is a valuable commodity (reference pt. 2 of this series). Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that outrage is a virtue.

If there’s some good that can be done by posting, commenting, or sharing about what is making you angry, then great go ahead and post… after you’ve had some time to cool down. Nothing needs to be done immediately – the internet isn’t going anywhere. If it should be done, it can be done in a few hours after you’ve had time to calm down.

5. Take breaks

One of the best things you can do to start taking back control of your internet time is to take breaks. Try a 24 hour technology fast. If that’s too easy, try for 48 hours. Every time you instinctively reach for your phone durnig the fast, make a mental note. You will be shocked to find how much of a part of your life picking up your phone to check social media has become.

Some people make this a weekly exercise. That’s probably a little tough for most of us, but if we can’t do a 24 tech break at least once a month, we are probably too handcuffed to our phones.

The key to unlocking those handcuffs is yours. Try some of these techniques and see if they make a difference for you.

As I’ve said before, my wish is not that you stop using your phone. My wish is that you realize how much of your life you are spending on social media and related apps. If you want to spend time on them, that’s fine, but you need to be consciously making that choice. God has given you a finite amount of time on this planet to steward. Do it well. Spend your time and attention in a way that is honoring to him.

Author: Samuel Schmitt

What Is The Benefit Of Fasting?

Through out the history of the Church, Christians have participated in Lent as a way to prepare their hearts and minds to realize more fully the glory of the Easter celebration. Now perhaps more then ever, this time of preparation and anticipation is needed in our churches. Our lives quickly become so filled with obligations and activities that Easter seems to surprise us. Lent offers us the opportunity to focus on the greatness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the power in His resurrection, so that when Easter arrives we are not caught off guard. According to Scott McConnell, the executive director of LifeWay Research, one of the reasons people do not observe Lent is because it involves fasting from pleasures. If the fast seems pointless, or if you need some encouragement during your fast I want to share with you some of what Thomas Aquinas had to say about fasting.

Thomas Aquinas is considered to be one of the most influential Christian philosophers and theologians of all time. In his best know work the Summa Theologica, he explains three reasons for fasting.

“First, in order to bridle the lusts of the flesh.” Aquinas points out that abstaining from food or other pleasures helps us to fight off more sinister desires. By fasting we are choosing to discipline ourselves enough to deny ourselves something that brings us pleasure. If you chose during Lent to abstain from Netflix, or social media you are denying yourself the pleasure of watching your favorite show or the escape of constantly scrolling. As we abstain from these simply pleasures we build the discipline to withstand the temptation of more serious sins. The act of fighting against the temptation causes us to turn to God for strength and builds in us the ability to resist something that may bring us temporary pleasure. On the flip side if we are unable to deny ourselves the pleasure of Netflix, or our favorite candy, it is doubtful we will be able to deny the temptation to take a second glance at a sensual photo or to have one too many beers. Denying simply pleasures helps to prepare us to resist the temptation of things that in the short term may be more pleasurable, but ultimately lead to misery.

“Secondly, we have recourse to fasting in order that the mind may arise more freely to the contemplation of heavenly things.” When we intentionally sever our attachment to things we find comforting, we are forced to seek comfort somewhere else. Fasting during Lent is an opportunity to force ourselves to turn to God for comfort when normally we may have turned to something else. If at the end of the day you always turn to your favorite video game or channel in order to wind down, consider giving that up. When we suffer through the absence of that comfort we are reminded that our ultimate Comforter is God. Fasting is not simply about denying ourselves something we enjoy; it is about reminding, and perhaps forcing, ourselves to turn to God instead.

“Thirdly, in order to satisfy for sins: wherefore it is written (Joel 2:12): ‘Be converted to Me with all your heart, in fasting and in weeping and in mourning.’” It is difficult at first glance to understand what Aquinas is saying with this third point but when he clarifies with the verse from Joel it becomes clearer. Aquinas is not saying that just because we fast the weight of our sins is removed, that is done through the merciful grace of Christ. What Aquinas is teaching us is that being in a relationship with God is not simply claiming belief in an idea or feeling fuzzy in our souls. God wants all of us to be in love with Him, body, mind, and soul. It is easy to fall into the habit of only worshiping God with our minds, but fasting allows us to worship and adore Him with our bodies. We are denying our bodies something it desires so that our desires can be focused on Him. Whenever we feel the tug in our bodies to consume that candy or just zone out at the end of the day, and we deny it, we are using our physical desires to refocus our attention on God. As we create a habit of having our desires satisfied by God we are more likely in the future to find satisfaction in Him when we have sinful desires. When we are more completely satisfied in God we will begin to realize that sinful things are not truly satisfying. The process of being converted to God with all of our hearts means being won over by God more completely.

If you choose to fast during Lent I hope the words of Thomas Aquinas will help strengthen your resolve. Fasting is difficult, and it is meant to be. Despite its difficulty fasting can be a valuable tool to grow deeper in your relationship with God. Whatever you fast from it is important to remember that fasting is not an opportunity to win the praise of those around us, it is an act of loving devotion to God. Although Aquinas was brilliant he is nothing compared to Our Lord Jesus Christ. So I will leave you with the words of Our Savior from Matthew 6:16-18,


“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”


Author: Nathan Phillips, Associate Pastor of the River Alliance Church


“I used to believe but then I had questions that couldn’t be answered and so I couldn’t believe anymore. You just have never doubted or questioned what people told you about God and the Bible, that’s why you believe.” This was the comment I received at work when a client discovered that I was also a local Pastor. What the man didn’t know was that I had asked questions and continued to ask questions. Questioning is an important part of the Christian faith. In the book of Acts we are told that the ones who heard Paul’s message and rigorously tested it against Scripture were considered to be noble.

“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.”

Acts 17:10-11

But what about when our questions turn into doubts? Lets take a look at some ways that, as Christians, we should deal with doubts.

  1. Rely on the Holy Spirit

“These are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:10-11

Remember that when we are reconciling our doubts we are not going alone. God has blessed us with the Holy Spirit, and He is working within us to reveal all wisdom and Truth. A common mistake made by those who have allowed doubt to devour their faith is that they rely entirely on their own intellect. We have the Holy Spirit abiding within us and we should rely on Him while we vigorously pursue truth. Pray continuously and ask God to make clear to us the answers to our doubts. Don’t be satisfied with blind faith. The Holy Spirit works within us, as we pursue truth, to bring our entire being, our heart, body, mind, and soul into harmonious agreement with the Creature. Intellect does not need to be sacrificed in order to have Faith, in fact when it is lead by the Holy Spirit our intellect will deepen our Faith.

  1. Know You Are Not Alone

“Righteous are you, O Lord,

when I complain to you;

yet I would plead my case before you.

Why does the way of the wicked prosper?

Why do all who are treacherous thrive?”

Jeremiah 12:1

I can assure you no doubt about God or Christianity you have ever had is new. People have been asking questions since Christianity began and people have been working through their doubts for just as long. Maybe you doubt the morality of Hell or struggle with the idea of suffering. These are age-old questions that have been asked in Scripture and by countless individuals including Church Fathers and theologians. Again you do not need to rely on your own intellect solely, read what the Bible has to say about your questions. Read the great men and women who have faced your same doubts and come out with a more concrete faith. Talk to your Pastor and/or trusted Christian friends who can pursue truth along side you.

  1. Follow Truth Wherever It Leads

“Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”

John 14:6

I am not afraid to have this as my final point, because if we honestly pursue truth, rely on the Holy Spirit, and look to the faithful who have gone before us we will be lead into a deeper relationship with Jesus who is the Truth. We may be challenged and we may be uncomfortable but we will come out the other side with a deeper faith then we had before. That does not mean it will be easy. Perhaps we will learn that our theology or understanding needs adjustment. Perhaps we will need to change the way we behave or the way we believe, but one thing is sure, God who is the source of all knowledge and wisdom will be glorified and our love for Him will be magnified by our honest pursuit of truth.


Author:Nathan Phillips – Associate Pastor at the River Church

Sending Thoughts and Prayers

“Sending thoughts and prayers.” If you are on social media or watch the news you almost certainly have seen this phrase. You might have even written it. In many ways it has become cliché. A phrase that many people throw around without thinking. Although at its face this phrase seems innocent, it recently has caused some people to express their outrage at the comment.

A few weeks ago I posted on a Facebook group asking Atheists how they respond to someone who is going through intense suffering. I received many great and insightful responses. One of the comments that stuck out to me was by a man named Donnie.

He said,

“I can reveal what expression p***** off many atheists; ‘sending thoughts and prayers”

When I asked why it was so upsetting he responded,

“Because, this is derived of any factual help and only strengthens the faith of the ‘well-wisher’ who believes they can ‘poke’ their deity because of the special position they have (‘In touch with the creator of the Universe’) without a shred of evidence that their religious ‘abilities’ are any real. And, why the believer wouldn’t say, ‘Fasting and praying about you’? This at least would involve action on the side of the ‘well-wisher’.”

Later he added,

“It totally replaces any practical help and amounts exactly to doing nothing.”

Donnie is not the only one who feels this way. In fact several others echoed Donnie’s concern in the same conversation thread. As Christians we need to take criticisms like this seriously and honestly evaluate the phrase, “sending thoughts and prayers.” Should Christians use this phrase and if so what are the dangers we should be aware of?

To begin with, I want to examine the statement “sending thoughts and prayers.” The first part “sending thoughts” is an idea that is foreign from the Christian faith. Nowhere in the Scriptures do thoughts have power outside of the life of the thinker. The Bible does not say we can send positive or negative energy; or that our thoughts can cover a suffering person with a telepathic feeling of peace. That being said, thoughts do have a significant ability to influence the actions and behaviors of the thinker. Matthew 15:19 says,

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Evil desires lead to evil thoughts and evil thoughts manifest into evil actions. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” What we think about matters and has the power to influence the way we interact in the world.

We are not called to “send” positive thoughts to people who are suffering. We are instructed to think godly thoughts in order that we can produce godly actions. Our thoughts have the ability to transform our lives so that we can become the type of people who can give aid and love to someone who is suffering.

The second part, “sending prayers” is a foundational belief in Christianity and a common practice among followers of Jesus Christ. Looking at the Scriptures we are repeatedly instructed to pray. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells Christians to “pray continually”. The primary difference between thought and prayer in the Christian worldview is that prayer is a communal activity involving the person praying and God, while thought is an internal activity only in the mind of the thinker.

It has to be stated that the Bible does not describe prayer as a tool wielded by the righteous to bribe or manipulate the action of God. God is not a genie in our service to grant us every wish. In fact several times throughout the New Testament we find Jesus and His disciples criticizing people for using prayer as a means to puff themselves up or satisfy a selfish desire. Prayer is about aligning our will with God’s, not about trying to force God to submit to our will.

God in His grace has given all of humanity the opportunity to come before Him in prayer. In prayer we can come before God with our praise, thanksgiving, and burdens. Especially in times of trouble Christians are instructed to pray, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

So why do we pray for others who are suffering? We pray for the suffering because the Bible tells us that God can offer comfort, peace, and healing. God is actively working to restore this fallen world, which has been corrupted by sin. Prayer is our opportunity to participate in God’s work of restoration. Scripture informs us that God hears our prayers and is actively working in the world around us, often times through prayer. James 5:16 describes prayer as both “powerful and effective.”

In prayer we can encounter God, and because of this encounter we will be changed. Our priorities, passions, and activities will become more aligned with God’s priorities, passions, and activities. Prayer is an aspect of God’s work in the world and as Christians we should never abandon it. I have seen God’s work through prayer in my own life and in the lives of those around me, and it is because of the power of prayer I have witnessed that I continue to pray.

Praying for those who are suffering is a necessary activity of those who follow Jesus Christ. We should not steer away from or be ashamed of praying for people, or letting them know we are praying for them.

Should Christians post, “sending thoughts and prayers?” It would not be accurate to say we are “sending thoughts”, however we could confidently say something like, “thinking about you and praying for you.” Although this still may frustrate some people, Christians have been instructed to pray, and believe in the power of prayer and so to neglect it would be disobedient to God and uncaring for those who are suffering.

So what is the danger in writing a post expressing our sympathy and intention to pray? Many people who type, “Sending thoughts and prayers” end there. They scroll down to the next post satisfied that they have done their part. How many of us pray that God will send comfort to a suffering person but make no effort to offer the comfort He has enabled us to supply? How many of us say we are praying, but then fall into the snare of apathetic complacency? I know I have been guilty of this at certain points in my life, and my suspicion is that I am not alone. Donnie’s comments should carry with them a weight of conviction for many Christians.

In Matthew 25 Jesus tells about the final judgment and in it He describes the scene before the throne.

34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

We are called to care for the sick, poor, and suffering. To use the life we have been given to glorify God by loving His creation. By showing love for His creation we truly show love for Him. This is a difficult step for many people to take because this requires sacrifice. It requires the people of God to get out from behind their computer screens and use the resources and abilities that God has blessed them with to show the love of God to everyone around them. God may have already given us the ability to be the answer to someone’s prayer. We could be the source of comfort for an individual crippled by sorrow. We could be the hand that can help rebuild a broken home. We could be the ones who give food to the hungry. We are the body of Christ and we have been blessed with the opportunity to be instruments of His work in the world.

So yes continue to pray. Pray without ceasing. Pray that God would comfort the sick and broken, that He would defend the abused, and rescue the hurting. But also pray that He would give you the opportunity to be His hands and feet in the world. Pray that God would reveal to you the ways that you can show His love to the hurting in your present circumstance. We should not be ashamed of our prayers, but we should be ashamed if we use prayer as an excuse to ignore the opportunities God has given us to act.

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

1 John 3:17-18

-Nathan Phillips, Associate Pastor of the River Alliance Church




Spiritual Gifts

Many well-meaning Christians love to ask the question “what is my spiritual gift?” While this is not a bad question, it is important to first answer the question “what is a spiritual gift?” There are actually quite a few components of spiritual gifts that can easily be overlooked. First, we will look to Scripture to understand the purpose of spiritual gifts. Second, we will look to Scripture to see who appoints them. Third, we will look to Scripture to see how many gifts each person should strive for. After those three aspects of spiritual gifts have been examined from a biblical perspective, then we will tackle the question of how to discover our own gifts.

1 Peter 4 is where the purpose of spiritual gifts is most clearly defined. The first half of 1 Peter 4 focuses on what it looks to live for God. 1 Peter 4:10, specifically, states that “Each of you should use whatever [spiritual] gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (NIV). In other words, the reason that we receive spiritual gifts is to serve the body of Christ.

There is another small passage in the Bible that quite clearly explains the purpose of spiritual gifts. Ephesians 4 discusses the importance of building up the body of Christ, His church. Verses 11 and 12 explain “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” Again, this passage reiterates that the reason we receive spiritual gifts is to serve the body of Christ, specifically to build it up.

Now that the purpose of spiritual gifts has been clearly defined, we must next address the question of who gives the spiritual gifts? 1 Corinthians 12 mentions a large variety of spiritual gifts, however, it is interesting to note that in this passage Paul places a great emphasis on who it is that gives these gifts: the Holy Spirit. After each gift, he mentions that it is given “by the same spirit.” At the conclusion of his massive list, he very clearly states in verse 11 that “All these [spiritual gifts] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.” People are not randomly assigned gifts, but the Holy Spirit distributes gifts uniquely to each person. Everyone is wonderfully different!

Now that we have an understanding of the purpose of spiritual gifts and who gives them, it is important to mention that we are called to desire all of the gifts. Later on in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he states that Christians ought to “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy” (1 Corinthians 14:1). It is out of love for others that we serve others through spiritual gifts, so we ought to be desiring all of them, since they are all good. It is interesting to note, however, that some gifts are considered greater than others, such as prophecy. 1 Corinthians 12:31, for example, actually commands people to “…eagerly desire the greater gifts…”

Since we have talked in great detail about the gifts and have a fairly good understanding of them, it may be beneficial to list some of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible. While there are a few other various gifts, some of the most well-known ones are found in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. Romans 12:6-8 lists the gifts of prophecy, serving, teaching, exhortation, giving, leadership, and mercy. 1 Corinthians 12:8–10 lists the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Now that we have defined the purpose of spiritual gifts, know that they are given by the Holy Spirit, understand that we should strive for all of them, and have looked at all of the examples of gifts in the Bible, let’s create a definition for spiritual gifts based off of what we learned so that we can address the initial question: “what is my spiritual gift?” In short, a spiritual gift is a unique and divine empowerment bestowed by the Holy Spirit upon believers to serve others so that the body of Christ may be built up. Since the purpose of spiritual gifts is to serve others, it would make sense that the way in which we would discover our gifts is through service, as we will quickly discover our strong giftings as well as our weaknesses. Therefore, rather than asking “what is my spiritual gift?” let us instead ask “how can I discover my spiritual giftings?” The best way to discover our spiritual gifts is to start serving, or if you are completely unaware of your giftings, it may be beneficial for you to find a mentor who can speak into your life and identify what your gifts may be.


Author: Francie Swanson, Intern at the River Alliance Church

1st Samuel 1:10-15 Hannah’s Outcry

Suffering, pain, and sorrow are familiar experiences for all of us. Some may be more familiar and some may be less, but the truth is that we live in a world that has been corrupted by sin and as a result suffering touches us all. One of the greatest things about the Bible is that it does not shy away from showing the full breadth of human experience. There are depictions of pain, joy, love, anger and every other emotion. As we flip through it’s pages we see people standing in victory and people brought to their knees in anguish.


The book of First Samuel begins with the story of Hannah who was barren. She longed to have a child but it seemed impossible. Overwhelmed with sorrow, Hannah went to the LORD’s Temple and cried out before God.


10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”

1 Samuel 1:10-11


We are given this small portion of her prayer before God. It begins with her addressing God as the “LORD of hosts”. According to the Talmud this is the first time, recorded in Scripture, that this title for God is used in a prayer. Even in her pain and anguish Hannah comes before God and acknowledges His glory. It is easy in times of pain to diminish God, or turn our anger towards Him, but Hannah comes before God proclaiming His glory and trusting in His mercy and love.


Then she pleads with God to look upon her suffering and bless her with a son. Then she says that she will “give him to the LORD all the days of his life” at first glance it seems like a bribe. But she is revealing something more profound in this statement then a simple bribe. She is recognizing that everything belongs to God. Even the son her heart longs for would be a gift from God, entrusted to her for a time. She is also revealing that her hearts desire is for a son who is deeply in love with God. The best thing she could want for her son is a life dedicated to knowing and loving the God who created the universe and granted him life. When God blesses us with children it is tempting to hold them tightly to our side and jealously cage their affections. Hannah has the faith to come before God with her request because she has confidence that He is a good and loving God who sees her suffering and cares about her pain. Her love for God and her faith in His goodness directs her desire for a son who knows and loves God.


While Hannah was praying to God, Eli the priest was watching her from His seat in front of the LORD’s Temple.



12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli took her to be a drunken woman. 14 And Eli said to her, “How long will you go on being drunk? Put your wine away from you.”


When Hannah came before God and laid her heart out before Him she was not poised and collected. In fact her prayer was so fervent that she appeared to be intoxicated. When Hannah heard Eli’s rebuke she answered him.


15 But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.


Hannah was not drunk she was, “pouring her soul out” to the Lord. She was coming before the Creator of the universe and allowing Him to see all her vulnerability. She poured out her pain at being barren, and tortured by those who looked down on her empty womb. She brought all of her fear, pain and suffering and poured it out before the Lord. Her outpouring of pain was not a trickle or a carefully poured glass it was a crashing river of emotion being fully expressed.


When we consider that throughout history people have suffered through wars, starvation, horrible illnesses, and unimaginable abuses, Hannah’s barrenness does not seem like a big deal. But her prayer has been preserved for generations because she had the faith to pour her soul out before God and He listened. She was not alone in her suffering. She was not forgotten. Her pain was not insignificant. She mattered to God and you do too.


We can have the same confidence in God’s love as Hannah did. When we are burdened with pain we can pour our souls out before the Lord. We do not need flowery words or melodic prayers. All we need is a heart yearning for God’s peace and the willingness to be vulnerable before Him.


Oh LORD of hosts

Thank You for caring about my suffering

Thank You that Your eyes are not blind to my tears

And Your ears are not deaf to my plea

I bring you my pain and my sorrow

All the suffering and anxiety I lay at Your feet

From the moment You breathed the breath of life into humanity You took notice

From my first breath You heard my cry

Allow me the faith to come before You with my pleas

Grant me the peace to stand vulnerable in Your presence

Thank You for the new life You have bought for me

Through the sacrifice of Your Son Jesus Christ

Thank You for the hope of eternal life in Your presence

Where I will be free from suffering and pain

Where I will be truly free to love You

Uninhibited by the snares of my own sin

I pray that in all things Your name will be Glorified

And Your will be done

In the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior


Author: Nathan Phillips, Associate Pastor at the River Alliance Church