Chana is most well known for being the mother of Samuel the prophet. But she was also a prophetess in her own right: one of seven women to whom G‑d gave the power of prophecy. Chana gave the world the concept of silent, personal prayer, and many fundamental laws about prayer are learned from her.

Elkanah had two wives, Chana and Peninah. Chana was childless, and she suffered many humiliations at the hands of the more fortunate Peninah, who did have children. The family lived in Israel, and would visit the Tabernacle in Shiloh once a year.

On one of the annual pilgrimages, Chana stood in the Sanctuary and poured out her heart. She prayed that G‑d bless her with a son, and vowed that she would dedicate his whole life to G‑d. Silently she prayed, swaying slightly. Eli, the high priest, saw her and thought she was drunk. He rebuked her for entering the Sanctuary in a state of drunkenness.

But Chana answered him with dignity, telling him that she was not drunk, only sad and pouring out her heart to G‑d. Eli realized the deep piety and grief which had moved this woman, and blessed her that G‑d should hear her prayers. In due time she had a son, who became Samuel the prophet.

Chana was the first person to pray quietly to G‑d. This is why Eli the high priest thought she was drunk, because her lips were moving but no sound was coming out. Chana’s intense desire to have a child moved her to beseech G‑d like no one had ever done before. As a Jewish woman, you also have that same power. You, too, can pray to G‑d and ask Him whatever it is that you need. Like Chana before you, G‑d will hear your prayers and help you out.

In-Depth Study

Read more about Chana

Browse a collection of insights and stories on prayer.

The Son She Gave Away
The story of Chana is a tale richly woven of many strands. It is a story of devotion and of love, of service and of sacrifice. Read

Tefilat Chanah (Chana's Prayer) in the Book of Samuel With Rashi's Commentary
Read the Bible's account of Chana, her prayer, and her giving thanks to G‑d. Read

The Woman Who Corrected the High Priest—an in-depth look at Chana
Chana taught us how to relate to our Creator from an entirely feminine perspective. To view G‑d not only as our King and Sovereign, but also as a Parent. Read

Video: Is It Chutzpah to Pray? Chana’s prayer and how to talk to G‑d
From the story of the prophetess Chana, we learn the proper way to approach G‑d and express our needs. (A text-based discussion of the first chapter of I Samuel.) Watch