Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shifting From Empty Prayers: For Moms

Nothing causes a momma’s heart to ache more profoundly than watching her children hurt. It doesn’t matter how old her children become, her kids will always be her “babes.” When they encounter various trials, it will always affect her deeply. 

Through the years as a family, we’ve gone through several life-altering periods of pain with our kids. Some of that pain was devastating beyond words and stemmed from events that remain too difficult to describe. In my experience, there’s been nothing as agonizing as knowing I couldn’t help them when they needed me most. 

When kids are small, their problems are often small and easy to solve. They can’t reach their toothbrush on the counter, so we provide a stool. They can’t balance a bicycle so we run behind them and hold them steady until they learn. They fear they’ll fail a test at school so we stay up with them until the wee hours of the morning, helping them study. They don’t know how to drive a car so we send them out to learn with dad (or some other brave soul), while we hide in our closets and pray. (At least that’s how the driver’s training looked at our house).

Soon, whether we’re ready or not, their problems begin to stem from their own decisions. While it breaks our heart to enforce punishment, we do it because we must. Above all, we do it out of love. Sometimes we watch our children suffer because of decisions others make. Their pain might involve victimization, or abandonment. Perhaps they lost a friend to drunk driving or another tragedy. Our hearts break along with theirs, and we often feel like we’d give our very lives to help them avoid the anguish. 

Moms want nothing more desperately than the ability to protect our offspring. When something threatens to harm them physically, emotionally, or spiritually, the lioness inside of us comes out with teeth bared and we’re prepared to fight to the death. God’s love and sovereignty are not often our first thoughts when the unexpected happens.

We may never understand why He allows some things, but we can find comfort in knowing that God’s purposes stem from His nature of love. He loves us, and He loves our kids with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). He knit our children together in our wombs (Psalm 139:13) and all their days were written in His book and planned before a single one of them began (Psalm 139:16). From the depths of His love, God desires relationship with our kids. As their moms, we desire that for them too.

Frequently, however, we try to pray away any discomfort, pain, or sorrow that the Lord may choose to allow in their lives. These are heartfelt prayers, but they are also empty, meaning that they don’t contain substance, power, or purpose.  Please know that I pray daily for the safety and comfort of my kids. But our prayers should go to a deeper level as we seek God’s purpose in their lives.

What we must remember is that God uses every single moment for His glory and for the good of His children. Each time our children face hardships, it brings endurance so that they may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:3-4). Our personal trials shape our testimonies and most of us have experienced profound victories that come out of the deepest pain. So too, the trials of our children are part of their own personal testimonies, used by God to strengthen them and draw them to Himself. He promises to work all things together for the good of those who love Him, those whom He called according to His purpose.

I find great peace in Isaiah 43:2 and the Holy Spirit’s reminder that we cannot avoid hardships.  Neither, by the way, can our children.  The Lord said, “Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire and the flame will not burn you.”

When the lioness inside of us comes out to fight for our children, we can take on a stronger posture of prayer on their behalf. Instead of praying, “spare them from pain,” we can begin to ask the Lord to strengthen them for what He’ll allow in their lives. Let’s begin to ask for victory over the schemes of the evil one and pray that the Lord will keep our kids fully armed with spiritual armor.  Let’s petition Him to use any trial they experience to further the Kingdom and to strengthen the faith of those precious offspring we hold so dear. 

Dr. David Jeremiah says it this way:  “Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

I have a dear friend who lost her very young daughter to an illness several decades ago.  This is a mom who knows immeasurable pain and the beauty of surrender to the Lord’s will in the lives of her children.  From a place of healing in spite of her loss, she encourages me to pray that the Lord do “whatever it takes” to draw my children to Himself. That is an extremely difficult prayer and honestly, it’s hard to imagine even uttering such words. But it’s a prayer that the Lord honors with His tender mercies. 

The bottom line is this:  Do we want our children free from pain and any discomfort or suffering? Or do we want our children to know the steadfast faithfulness of the God they serve?  Is our hope that they’ll grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Do we trust the Lord with the lives of our children enough to surrender every moment to Him? Do we trust Him enough to pray, “Do whatever it takes, Lord”?

Be strengthened today, by His Word,

Psalm 119:28


  1. I have received confirmation and new insight from this post! How beautiful the tears of a mother yet how powerful the mother who understands her calling as God's proxy. Wow! Thank you Cathy.

  2. :) As I wrote this post, I knew it would be one I'd need to revisit a few times myself - to remember the truths and God's sovereignty.

  3. It has taken me a while to get to read this post, but now I know why! I now know how to pray this week - right when it is needed. Thank you Cathy - you blessed my socks off!!