Prayerful Mothering

Prayerful Mothering

by Leslie Ludy | March 1, 2012

Many years before Hudson Taylor became the father of evangelical missions, he was a wayward teen with no real interest in God. His mother was greatly burdened for the eternal salvation of her son. She began to labor diligently in prayer on his behalf, asking God to radically rescue his soul. One day, when she was away from home staying with a friend, she felt especially pressed to wrestle in prayer for Hudson. She knelt by her bed, and determined not to rise from the spot until she was confident that her son’s soul had been won for Christ. Hour after hour she pleaded for Hudson, until at last she could pray no longer, but knew in her heart that the victory had been gained. Christ’s Spirit made it clear to her that her son had come into the kingdom of God that very day.

Upon her arrival home several days later, Hudson met her at the door to tell her the joyful news that he had given his life to Christ the very same afternoon she had wrestled for him in prayer. But it wasn’t just Hudson’s soul that was won that day. The tireless prayers of this faithful mother helped shape one of the greatest spiritual heroes this world has ever known, leading to the salvation of countless lost souls and the inspiration for thousands of foreign missionaries (story from A Retrospect by James Hudson Taylor, China Inland Mission, London, p. 5).

I am convinced a mother can change the world through faithfully praying for her children – and countless mothers, like Hudson Taylor’s, already have.

But we cannot learn how to fight large-scale battles in prayer until we have practiced on the small, everyday challenges we face in raising our children. God’s Word exhorts us to “pray without ceasing,” and being a mother provides plenty of opportunities to petition the throne of heaven daily, hourly, and moment-by-moment. It might seem silly to pray intensely about mundane child-raising issues such as potty training, binkie-weaning, table manners, and sleep patterns. But this is our training ground. If we learn how to take everything to God in prayer, knowing that He cares about every detail of our children’s lives, we will begin to notice His faithfulness day-by-day. As a result, we will be made strong in faith and spiritually ready for the bigger battles ahead.

When Harper first came home from Korea, there were many temptations for me to either worry about or try to “solve” the many challenges that came with her transition into our home. While still in Korea, Harper had been diagnosed with “stranger anxiety,” and the social worker was quite concerned about her ability to bond with us. I envisioned the agony of having a child who would scream every time I tried to comfort her or cuddle with her. But Eric and I committed together to wrestle in prayer for all stranger anxiety to be removed before she even came home – and God truly answered our prayer in a miraculous, amazing way. From the very first moment we held her, she seemed to instantly know that we were her parents. When the social worker came to check on her the day after her arrival, she was shocked at how well Harper had bonded to us and how happy she seemed. We knew it was a direct answer to our prayers.

Seeing God’s faithfulness in this area inspired us to faithfully pray for every issue – small or big – that we faced in parenting our new little Asian import. Harper had never slept in a crib before. Her sleep schedule was completely opposite of ours since she came from the other side of the world. Her car seat terrified her. So I began praying over Harper nearly every moment of the day. “Lord, I pray that she would feel totally comfortable in her car seat.” “Lord, may she sleep through the night without any interruptions.” “Lord, may Harper’s nap schedule line up perfectly with Hudson’s.”

The answers didn’t always come instantly, but they did come. Harper’s adjustment into a new country, new family, and new life was truly supernatural. Other moms would sometimes ask me what we did to help Harper transition into our family so smoothly. The only real answer I could give was, “We prayed!”

Sometimes they would get disgruntled with that answer. “Well, yes, but I mean – besides that,” they would counter, wanting something more practical from me. Sure, there were a few functional things we did to help Harper adjust to her crib and car seat, but I am convinced that prayer was the primary reason behind every success we achieved.

One night, not long after Harper arrived home, she awoke with a high fever and stuffy nose. My first reaction was to rush for the infant Tylenol and check pediatric websites for advice. But Eric said, “Wait...why don’t we pray first?” So we did. And instantly, the fever and stuffy nose were completely gone.

As moms, we are often so eager for practical solutions to the everyday challenges we face with our children, that we can easily forget about our biggest, most powerful parenting weapon: prayer. Prayer shouldn’t be an afterthought; it should be the very foundation of

our child-raising. Anything practical we do should merely be an outflow of our faithful, diligent praying for each detail of our children’s lives.

Hudson Taylor’s mother could have frantically sought out practical solutions to help her rebellious, apathetic son. She could have searched for the right book to give him, the right church to drag him to, or the right mentor to disciple him. But Mrs. Taylor knew that until she had truly petitioned heaven on behalf of her son, everything she tried would just be a human solution to a God-sized problem. Wrestling in prayer for Hudson was the most powerful, effective way to reach his soul – and she knew it.

A few weeks ago Eric and I noticed that little Dubber (Kip, age 3) was always pretending to be a “bad guy.” So, we started praying that he would catch a vision for being a protector, not a villain. And just today, as Dubber ran outside to play with a long stick in his hand, he announced, “Mommy – I’m a hero, not a bad guy!”

As moms, we can rest in the full assurance that God cares more about our children than even we do. Every issue, big or small, can be entrusted into His faithful hands. If we learn how to win small victories in prayer now (i.e. car seats, binkies, and bad-guy tendencies) we will be ready for the more significant battles that lay ahead, battles that affect the generations to come.

Whether you are wrestling in prayer over potty training your toddler, or are laboring over the fate of your child’s eternal soul, the victory lies in wrestling, importunate, diligent prayer.

The old hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus beautifully captures the heart attitude of a prayerful mother:

What a Friend we have in Jesus; all our sins and griefs to bear

What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?

We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer!

Can we find a Friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?

Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

No matter what challenge we face in our parenting, if we as mothers put these words into action, we will begin to see mighty miracles in our children’s lives. Jesus sees every sparrow that falls, He knows the number of hairs on our child’s head, and He cares about them – far more than we ever could. No matter is ever too small or too big to take to our God in prayer!*

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