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Teach Your Children to Pray Like Hannah

“I know I should teach my children to pray, but I have trouble making time for prayer myself, and does God really listen to me?”

You don’t have to be a perfect mom or a perfect Christian to teach your children about biblical prayer, or about God. You can grow closer to Him alongside your children. And you will learn more about prayer as you teach them how to pray. Studying the story of Hannah from the book of 1 Samuel is a wonderful place to start when teaching children biblical prayer.

God chose the Israelites to demonstrate His presence and power in the world. Like He does for us, God gave them freedom to choose how they would respond to His instructions.

Unfortunately, it did not take long for the nation of Israel to depart from God’s law and copy the cultural norms of surrounding nations, including having multiple wives. Most women in the Old Testament were expected to marry young, have children, and depend on their husbands for future security. But for Hannah, infertility caused her to doubt her life’s purpose.

Hannah was one of two wives of Elkanah, a Jewish man living in Ramah, near Jerusalem. Tension and jealousy between the women led to a family burdened with conflict and heartache. But God’s grace was evident in the life of Hannah. Her story reminds us we can all call out to God in prayer, regardless of our situation, and it serves as a poignant lesson in teaching children biblical prayer.

A Heart-breaking Journey: Hannah’s Story

Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. (1 Samuel 1:1-2)

Every year, Elkanah gathered his family for the journey to the city of Shiloh for the annual sacrifice. God’s law required sacrifices and offerings on a regular basis. These were presented to the priest to demonstrate repentance for sin and the desire to be obedient to God’s Word.

Elkanah and Peninnah were in good spirits, but Hannah’s heart broke with each step. Peninnah had given Elkanah children, while Hannah remained barren. Other women in her family averted their eyes at her disgrace.

“Hannah, don’t lag behind,” Peninnah said with an arrogant look on her face. She seemed to enjoy taunting Hannah at every turn. “We have to keep up with my children.”

Hannah felt as if a knife was twisting into her soul. Instead of arriving at the temple with praise on her lips, pain covered Hannah’s face. A range of emotions overwhelmed her as she thought about her failure to give Elkanah a child. Despair. Fear. Confusion. Life had not unfolded the way she had dreamed. Would God ever answer her desperate cries?

When Elkanah and his family arrived in Shiloh, the temple was bustling with activity and Hannah found it easy to slip away from the family. Who would miss her? Finding a solitary place, she fell to her knees, anguished over her situation. Looking up, she raised her hands to her invisible God, hoping He would hear her cry.

And she made this vow: “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 1:11)

When Hannah rose from her knees, she returned to her family with a newfound peace. The pain was still there, but God’s presence gave her strength.

Journey of Joy

Several years later, Elkanah once again led his family to Shiloh. This time, Hannah returned to the temple with her small child in tow. God had heard her prayer and blessed Hannah with a son.

She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I have asked him of the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:20)

At this holy place, Hannah had once knelt in God’s presence, revealing her devastated heart. God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we hope. But we can trust that He has a purpose for our lives. For Hannah, an answered prayer revealed God’s plan. Now her heart sang with joy. Hannah brought Samuel to the temple priest in great excitement.

“Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the very woman who stood here several years ago praying to the LORD. I asked the LORD to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the LORD, and he will belong to the LORD his whole life.” And they worshiped the LORD there. (1 Samuel 1:26-28)

Digging Deeper

The name Samuel sounds like the Hebrew word for ‘asked of God’ (Holman Christian Standard Bible notes). His name bore testimony to God’s graciousness in answering his mother’s prayer. As difficult as it must have been, Hannah kept her promise to return her son to God, putting him in the care of Eli, the temple priest, when he was still a child.

Hannah set an example of a devoted wife, mother, and woman of God. She acted as a prayer warrior and did not hide her heart’s desires from the Lord. Hannah understood God may not give her what she desired, but that did not stop her from praying.

And the LORD blessed Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:21)

Samuel grew to be a great man of God, serving faithfully as a judge and prophet for the people. Hannah’s heartfelt prayer had not been in vain. She undoubtedly continued to pray for her family and taught her children to pray to a generous God.

Then Hannah prayed, “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.” (1 Samuel 2:1)

Prayer Warriors

Hannah, as we have learned, is a prayer warrior. A strong and courageous mother. We all want to become powerful prayer warriors for our children, like Hannah. Here are a few ideas for modeling a consistent prayer life and teaching our children biblical prayer.

  1. Prayer can happen anywhere. If we are taking our children to school, prayer can happen in our vehicles. We can ask our children, “How can I pray for you today?” They may have encountered a challenge they’re not comfortable sharing with you, but when it is a prayer, and they know God will hear them, that can change their outlook. They may more easily reveal their concerns.

As children are allowed to have their own mobile device, you can also ask them this same question via text messaging. And sometimes, they will even text you back with the same question.

But sometimes we need a prayer starter. We can use the alphabet. “Who do we know whose name begins with ‘A’? Let’s pray for them.” Sometimes they share about people and places we, as moms, are not familiar with. That’s okay; it’s about engaging our children and getting them to think outside the box when they pray.

  1. Model how to pray. It is important for children to see their mothers modeling prayer. It is hard, but the Bible tells us not to worry, but to pray. Praying is what we need to do. When we have a challenge, let our children see us praying about it and through it. When we have a praise, let our children see us thanking God for how He provided for us. When we are not sure what to do, let our children see us pray about it and trust where God takes us.
  2. Help children learn to pray. Children sometimes need cues to remember to pray. Find a plain, flat rock. Get a permanent marker and write a prayer focus in one word on the rock. This could be anything from a sibling’s name to a subject they are struggling to master. Suggest they keep this rock in a visible place and when they have another prayer weighing on their heart, create another one. These rocks do not have to be fancy; they are a reminder to pray. While they do not have to be a work of art, compliment your child if they choose to be extra creative.
  3. Have fun learning to pray. Another fun way to pray is to put prayers to a familiar tune. God accepts all prayers, the simplest to the most dramatic. But coming up with ways to put our prayers to music can be fun. And who doesn’t still sing the ABC song in their head to remember what letter comes next in the alphabet? Simple children’s tunes like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” work great. (Tailor the tune you select to your children’s ages.) And Twinkle, Twinkle is in the public domain. So have fun! Here’s an example.

Teaching children biblical prayer through familiar songs.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star
Dear Lord, Dear Lord, be with me [Twinkle, twinkle little star]
You are greater than I’ll ever be [How I wonder what you are]
I love you so much, Yes I do [Up above the world so high]
Be with me the whole day through [Like a diamond in the sky]
Dear Lord, Dear Lord, be with me [Twinkle Twinkle little star]
You are greater than I’ll ever be [How I wonder what you are]

  1. Write out prayers. If our children can write, encourage them to write down their prayers. A special prayer journal is a wonderful keepsake. It’s a great habit to develop and with this approach we will know when and how God has answered our prayers. It is also important to remind our children to look for answers in unexpected ways, or to realize sometimes we simply have to trust and wait.

Hannah showed us clearly what can happen if we pray for our children. Even if it is only a quick prayer every day, continue to pray. Ask God to make them aware of His constant presence. Teaching children biblical prayerBe a prayer warrior for your children; dedicate them to the Lord.


  1. How would you describe your current prayer life?
  2. Have you experienced a time when you were desperate for God to answer your prayers? God does not always answer our prayers like He did for Hannah. Has that happened to you? How did you respond? What would make this experience easier to accept?
  3. Samuel’s name reflected his miraculous birth. Is there a story behind your children’s names?
  4. What practical Live It prayer tips will be the most helpful to you and why? How will you implement them?
  5. What additional ideas can you come up with for modeling prayer and teaching our children biblical prayer?

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