The opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the author.
It was over the Christmas holiday that I heard him say it. The “him” was my oldest son, former addict, finally redeemed. All four of our boys were home from their far-flung places, and we’d gone to church together. Now, the service was over, and we were visiting with other parishioners when there it came.
“I called Mom one day,” he said. “I was mad. I asked her if she was praying against me. I’d have everything in place (for a shady deal), and all at once something would go wrong. It would fall through.” He was smiling.
Hearing his words and seeing his happy face, my heart rejoiced. He had traveled to hell and back, this son of mine, and he’d taken his parents with him. Through all those long, dark years, though, our prayers had followed him, and this brand-new man was the proof.
“I asked her if she was praying against me.”
The truth is that stinkers who aren’t done stinkin’ do not want mothers to pray. Yet it is exactly when they are being stinkers that they need Mama’s prayers the most. Praying, after all, is a mom’s superpower for it connects her to the ultimate power, God Almighty.
If anyone in my life ever taught me about prayer, it was my children. The second they landed in my arms, those blue-eyed boys, I knew at once that for the rest of my days, my heart would walk around outside of my body. Nothing on earth made me feel more vulnerable than that—nothing, and so I gave myself to the study and practice of prayer.
While all four of them taught me special lessons, I will list only several here. My oldest son taught me that long seasons of seemingly unanswered petitions did not mean that God wasn’t working. He also taught me, through years of practice, that God could be trusted completely. I pondered the story of Jochebed, mother of Moses, who put her child in a basket, nudged him out onto the Nile, and kept her peace on its banks. I followed her example and found that peace.
One day as I was praying for God to send him good friends instead of the old crowd he was running with, He brought me up short. “That’s not how it works,” He said as I ran past cornfields. “He has to want that kind first.”
Instantly, Philippians 2:13 came to my mind. “It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” It was a transforming moment, for I saw that until the right desires were there, the right choices and behaviors would not be, and I began to pray for good and holy desires instead. (This truth changed forever the way that I pray. I have since seen this very thing happen with the greatest of ease. The results are miraculous.)
These days, this is how I pray for my sons. I pray that they will have an extraordinary hunger for God and His Word and an uncommon love for other people. I pray for their faith, as Christ did for Peter, that it will not fail. I pray for the right women to come along, and then I pray that they will be the right men for the right women. Mother covers the bases.
I pray for their humility and maturity. I ask God to increase their wisdom and discernment, for it’s the only way to keep one’s boat off the rocks. I pray for their confidence and courage. The world needs brave, inspired, noble men, and I want that for all of my sons.
I pray, lastly, for their purpose and direction. They have been created, designed, and engineered for this particular time in history. They are not here merely to lead benign, happy lives, receiving all of God’s gifts. They are meant to be givers, to lend their strength and passion to the world, and it is for this I pray.
Much of what I pray for my sons, I pray for America, too. In my vast maternal heart, I carry a fierce, protective love for this country and her people. I want God to work within each heart and mind “to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.” Until the desires are right and good, evil will continue to flourish. We have to want something higher.
I pray that my fellow countrymen and -women will have an extraordinary hunger for God and His Word and an uncommon love for other people. Oh, how this nation would change if we learned to love one another!
I pray for our faith, that it would not fail. I ask God to make us the right men and the right women so we can be agents of light and life and peace for others. I pray for our humility and maturity. I ask God to increase our wisdom and discernment, for it’s the only way to keep our fragile boats off the rocks. I pray for our confidence and courage, for our purpose and direction. That we would not be mere takers, but strong, brave, active givers who walk with grace in this world.
As always, I ask God to bless America, not so that we can be hoarders of His manifold blessings, but so that we can continue to be a blessing to the rest of the world. For all these things I pray. Amen.
To hear the small, caffeinated American mom discuss this week’s essay on the Saturday show with Bo Snerdley, click HERE.