Have you heard of a “praying Babushka”?
by Lillian Penner
Published on July 25, 2022

Have you heard of a “praying Babushka”?

By Catherine Jacobs and Lillian Penner

A babushka is an elderly lady wearing a tightly knotted, colorful scarf covering her head. I had not heard of them until my husband and I went to Ukraine on a mission trip with a group from our church about 20 years ago. On Sunday, when we arrived at the church, about twenty elderly ladies in the congregation wearing babushkas were singing before the service. Later, I learned that they were also praying for their families and the service. It was an unforgettable experience for us.

People often call these women “the praying grandmothers.” They were the rock-solid saints that Stalin aimed to eliminate. He realized that if he could get rid of these “old women,” he had an opportunity to get the Russian youth into his hands. Thank the Lord for these praying babushkas. They connected a generation lost to atheism to a new generation of people asking questions about Jesus today.  

A vital part of being a Godly grandparent is prayerJust as these babushkas provided a spiritual wall of protection over their young, a praying grandparent can do the same today. Can you imagine what it was like for these women in the 1930s and 40s? They witnessed Stalin’s army marching into the center of their small villages. The soldiers would come directly into their homes, where they would capture the Russian sons and grandsons. Then the soldiers physically carried off to war the men and boys. The babushkas watched their loved ones be forced out of town, knowing that they would probably never see their loved ones again.

What kind of prayers do you think these women uttered as they fell to their knees on behalf of their sons and grandsons? Was it a quick, fleeting prayer? Or was it a deep, daily time of crying out desperately to the Lord?

There is no doubt that the days of the tyrants were terrible. But we also live in a time of fierce spiritual battle. The Bible tells us “… our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12) Yet scripture is also clear that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (I John 4:4) Today, there is an urgent need for grandparents to pray fervently for their children and grandchildren. The Lord has issued us a high calling `for a deep level of prayers.

Today, Russia is invading Ukraine. Can you hear these grandmas praying for their loved ones as the men are fighting and their women with their children are trying to evacuate to Poland and other countries, knowing they may never see them again?

Yes, we are in a spiritual battle that requires spiritual weapons. Babushka-strong prayers are such a weapon. This is a challenge, not for the faint-hearted, but for passionate, intentional grandparents who are willing to get on their knees daily to intercede passionately for their loved ones.

God has placed our children and grandchildren in our lives and under our care. These loved ones are maneuvering through a world that is hostile to the ways of God. We must become their “babushka-prayer warriors.”   God has given us the incredible opportunity to partner with Him on behalf of these dear ones. So let us rise — or should we say, “fall on our knees — to this vital calling on all grandparents.

May each of us find the urgency within us as we storm the gates of Heaven on behalf of our children and grandchildren?

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Lillian Penner is the author of Grandparenting with a Purpose: Effective Ways to Pray for Your Grandchildren in English and Spanish. She has been on staff with the Christian Grandparenting Network prayer ministry for fourteen years, developing prayer cards, grandparents@Prayer groups, and the Grandparenting Day of Prayer. She has a passion for praying intentionally for her grandchildren and desires to share that passion with other grandparents.

An avid blogger, Lillian breaks into smiles if you ask about her thirteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. She and her husband, John, live in Portland, Oregon, where they are active in church ministries. They were both raised in Christian homes and desire to pass their godly heritage to their future generations. She and her husband enjoy traveling, Southern Gospel music but most of all, enjoy spending time with their family.

Feature photo by BerndLauert


  1. Alan

    Thank you fir this encouraging post Lillian!

    • Andy Oldham

      Absplutely, Alan. I am thankful it was encouaginf for you as it was for me! God Bless!

  2. Patrick Brown

    I pray every day for them


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