Every morning before the yellow bus rolled down our street, Mama parted my hair in braids, packed a scrumptious lunch, and placed her hand over my part whispering a prayer of protection and guidance. I would squirm in my shoes until she said “amen,” plant a kiss on her cheek, and bolt out the door. It was our daily ritual. One I didn’t always understand, but cherished nonetheless.
Now as I’m called “Mama,” I recall my mother’s daily habit of prayer as one of the most poignant memories I’ll cherish long after she leaves this earth. For I’m convinced her prayers saved me from unnecessary dangers, bad relationships, and poor choices (though I made my share of many despite her prayer coverage), and I believe her pleas prepared me for the man I call husband. Truly, Mama’s seemingly insignificant prayers left a lasting imprint on the course of my life, and I believe I am who I am today because of the words she lifted up to the God of the universe.
Yet, as a mama of two busy sons and another little one within my womb, I often wonder how any mom finds time for prayer — let alone solitude — and in this season of life, I’ve struggled with this spiritual discipline more than ever. In the midst of the daily bustle of laundry, meals, dishes, schedules, and play, my prayers have been merely a sigh, a quick utterance, or plea for help when my son soils his undergarments or my toddler spills his milk. Yet, looking back at my mama’s example, I’m reminded that my prayers need not be oratory or even said on my knees. I can find a new normal in this season of diapers and hungry mouths by uttering simple prayers in the midst of my hectic schedule. Mama modeled these simple prayers effectively.
I can’t count the times I saw Mama in front of the sink scrubbing pots and pans in soapy suds. While she worked, she often sang and uttered prayers. It’s as if she understood Brother Lawrence’s assertion in his book The Practice of the Presence of God, “The time of business does not differ with me from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were on my knees.”
My mama understood that prayer is a conversation with God. She talked to Him throughout the day in the midst of her tasks, and thereby, practiced the presence of God in the mundane. Her example has taught me that it doesn’t matter if I’m folding laundry, driving my boys to a play date, taking a shower, or making beds, I can lift up prayers for my children and husband wherever I am and in the midst of whatever ‘’m doing. And in doing so, I bridge the divide between the sacred and the commonplace.
Each day there are three key doorways of the day — morning, afternoon, evening. My mama modeled the importance of lifting up prayers during these moments. In the morning, she prayed over us; in the afternoon, she read her Bible and lifted up prayers no doubt; and in the evening, she ensured we read scripture and prayed together as a family. Prayer was a common thread in the fabric of our family, and Mama remembered the Lord in the doorways of the day.
I too am realizing that even though I can’t have an extended morning quiet time, I can divide the time during these intervals. As I get breakfast on the table, I can pray for the upcoming day. As I put my sons down for a nap, I can pray over them. And before I clear the dinner table, I can encourage a diet of the living bread along with our evening meal.
When I met my husband, my parents told me they had prayed for my spouse for years. I remember how their words overwhelmed me with gratitude. In the same way, I learned they prayed for my vocation, friends, and future family. Dad and Mama were praying pathway prayers — prayers for my future — and I as I look back over my life, I can see God’s guidance in my choices and decisions.
In the same way, I’ve begun praying for the wives of my sons. I’ve lifted up little prayers for good friends and mentors. Often my prayers are just a quick plea, a breath, or an entry in their prayer journals, but I know that each one is not wasted. God loves to hear His children; He delights in my prayers. In the doorways of the day, I can pray for my children’s future.
Mama instilled in me a desire to pray, and I’m eternally grateful for the words she uttered on my behalf. And now that I’m wearing her shoes, I’m realizing the power of a mother’s prayer. James 5:16b says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” The prayers of mothers are not just words uttered into the great abyss; they’re dynamite against the enemy’s evil plans for our children, for they are conversations with God most high. And God, who spoke the world into existence, speaks over our children, drawing them to Jesus, transforming them into His likeness.
I know I’ll have plenty more days where I wake up running without a moment to pause or bend my knees. Yet, I’ll remember my mama’s example and utter simple chore-time, doorway, and pathway prayers throughout the day. And on days where I fail to utter anything at all, I’ll cling to grace, for God knows my unspoken requests — the ones whispered in the corners of my heart — and I believe He answers even those.