Most of us experience a time in life when it feels like we hear nothing but silence from heaven. Yes, we know intellectually that God is ever present with us. But if we were to be very honest, there are times when it simply doesn’t feel that way.

The book of 1 Samuel, chapter 1, speaks poignantly to times like these. Hannah, a wife of a wealthy Israelite named Elkanah, was unable to have children. It crushed her that her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, had given birth multiple times, yet the Scripture repeats twice, “The Lord had closed [Hannah’s] womb.”

For so many, this situation hits so very close to home. Perhaps like Hannah, you’ve struggled with infertility. Or maybe you’ve journeyed through a distressing hardship like the devastating loss of a loved one or a crippling financial need.

What are you to do in times like these when your spiritual tank is on “E”? Times when you are crushed by your circumstances and it seems there’s simply no hope? The answer is to pray. But not just any kind of prayer. This kind of prayer must begin with a right understanding of your Creator.

It’s not that God doesn’t understand your plight, and it’s certainly not that God has been detached or forgetful of your agony. It’s not even that God is ignorant of your circumstance. But it is necessary that you begin by opening yourself and telling Him what is in your heart.

Hannah did just that, and she found the power to ask for her heart’s desire again. “Lord Almighty,” she prayed, “if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head” (1 Samuel 1:11).

I don’t believe Hannah ever let her frustration, fear, or emptiness convince her she was truly alone. Through the pain, she knew God was there, and therein lay her comfort.

After she prayed, before she even heard a response from the Lord, we’re told she “went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (1:18). She didn’t even know how the Lord was going to answer. But by her simple act of faithful prayer, she knew she was deeply loved by her Father.

Whatever challenges you’re facing today, you can pray clinging to that solemn truth. You are truly loved by a Father who knows the deepest desires of your heart. When your spiritual tank is empty, pray boldly and delight yourself in Him!

Taken in part from Jill’s book, Running on Empty.