Most parents know the feeling of crying out to the Lord in desperation on behalf of their children—be it out of fear for their safety, decision-making, or health. As parents, we are in a constant state of worry for our children.
- What does the Bible tell us about praying for our children?
- How should we respond when God answers those prayers on behalf of our children?
For insights, let us take a look at the story of Hannah in the Old Testament. Hannah was the first wife of Elkanah. She was unable to have children and because of her barrenness, Hannah was ridiculed by Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah.
“And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.”—1 Samuel 1:6
Hannah is not the first woman we see in the Bible who was unable to have children. However, she is the first one who weathered the storm with unwavering faith.
Responding to God’s Promises
- Sarah, wife of Abraham, laughed when the angel of the Lord told her she would conceive.
“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, ‘After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?’ And the Lord said to Abraham, ’Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘‘Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?”’”—Genesis 18:12-13
- Rebekah, wife of Isaac, questioned the Lord.
“Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.”—Genesis 25:21-22
- Rachel, wife of Jacob, blamed her husband and called out to him in her grief.
“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’ And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’”—Genesis 30:1-2
- Hannah trusted God without fear or doubt. She cried out to him in her grief and knew He was listening. She also made a covenant to respond when God answered her prayer.
“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”—1 Samuel 1:10-11.
Hannah never doubted the sovereignty of the Lord and His ability to fulfill her request. She also knew that the correct thing to do was to respond in trust and faith. Therefore, she dedicated her first and only son (at that time) back to God.
“‘For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.’ So they worshiped the Lord there.”—1 Samuel 1:27-28
Answered Prayer Requires a Response
Why would Hannah sacrifice the one thing she was asking for? It is because she saw the bigger picture. When God wrote her story, He did not stop with Samuel, and neither did Hannah's faith. In response to her faithfulness and sacrifice, God gave Hannah five more children.
“And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘The Lord give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the Lord.’ Then they would go to their own home. And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.”—1 Samuel 2:20-21
Just as she prayed in faith, she responded in faith. We are called to submit to God's will over our lives. We should make the effort to discern His will and respond with obedience. Doing so continually realigns us with His heart, which is the best way to continue the cycle of answered prayer.
“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”—1 John 5:14-15
How Should I Respond to Answered Prayer?
The question is not how we should respond when prayer is answered the way we want. We must keep in mind that “no” or “not yet” is also an answer.
Psalm 66 tells us how we should respond when our prayers are answered.
- Respond with Praise
“Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious”—Psalm 66:1-2
- Respond with Gratitude
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.”—Psalm 66:5
- Respond in Faith
“For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined.”—Psalm 66:10
- Respond in Obedience
“I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows,”—Psalm 66:13
Like Hannah, we should take action when it comes to making our requests known and receiving answers from the Lord. We need to be intentional about unlocking the blessings that the Bible promises to Believers.
God is in control and has a plan for each and every one of us, including our children. When we approach God through prayer in humility and surrender, we unleash His blessings upon our lives and the lives of our children.