When Mothers Pray
By Cheri Fuller
Pray without ceasing,” Paul says? Had he ever talked to a mother with young children? Certainly he never spent a day with my kids when they were small. Would you like to show Paul your schedule and ask him exactly where he’d slot in this “pray without ceasing” activity?
We mothers probably identify more readily with Wendy who has four active children, including twin kindergartners. “I have so little time when I can stop, be alone, and think, let alone pray!” she laments.
Even women with Mary tendencies, who would love to spend hours in prayer, struggle with finding time to devote to it when their children are young. In fact, does any woman feel the need for prayer more and find the time more elusive than the mother of small children?
Since we can’t create more hours in the day, mothers of young children need to be creative in finding time and ways to pray.
Consider some of these practical ways to “pray without ceasing.”
Ask God to provide.
If you find little or no quiet time to pray, cry out to God and ask Him to provide it. It’s a prayer He loves to answer. Simply say, “Lord Jesus, I want to spend time alone with You. Show me a way, a space of time, a quiet place where I can seek You.” Then trust Him to do just that, and look for the openings. Whenever I prayed this prayer as a mother of small children, a little window would open up. My husband would take them out for ice cream or to the park. A friend would invite them over to play with her children. God faithfully provided.
Pray where you are.
We can talk to God about what our children are doing, the challenges we face, the ordinary events of our days (yes, even the details); we can give Him our hurts and disappointments, share our joys, and thank Him for victories and blessings.
Carry prayer through your day by looking for and asking God for “cues.” When you pass your child’s school, pray for his teachers. When you wash his sweatshirt, pray He’ll be covered in God’s protection and love. When you polish her shoes, pray that her feet will take her in God’s paths.
Make a prayer calendar.
If your prayer concerns outnumber your minutes, divide your concerns up among the days of the week or month. One busy mom I know prays for one fruit of the Spirit to grow in her son’s life each day. Monday she prays for peace, Tuesday that patience will grow in him, Wednesday for kindness … and on throughout the week.
Imagine Jesus were to ask you what you most want Him to do for your children at this time in their lives. How would you answer Him? Let that request be your Monday focus. On Tuesday pray for your child’s school, for her teachers and her ability to learn. On Wednesday, pray for your child’s relationships, both in the family and with friends. Pray for God to prepare a Christian mate for your child, if that is His will. On Thursday, pray for
your child’s growth—physical, mental, emotional. On Friday, pray for your child’s salvation or spiritual growth. If you have others on your heart who don’t know Christ, you could add those to your Friday calendar as well.
Certainly we can’t pray about everything every day. If you’re frustrated about where to focus, ask God: On whose behalf do You want me to faithfully intercede? Allocate a certain day, either weekly or monthly, for each person, and then you can pour your heart into praying for one person at a time.
Many women express frustration with wanting to pray more specifically than just asking God to bless their children, to help their children be healthy and grow up safely. Here are some areas you could pray for young children. If one strikes you as needful for your child, jot it on an index card and put it on the kitchen counter to remind yourself to lift that request before God daily:
• That he will come to Christ early and love His Word (2 Timothy
• That he will grow in wisdom and in favor with God and those people his life will touch (Luke 2:52)
• That as you teach him God’s Word, he’ll treasure it in his heart and
keep his way pure (Psalm 119:9–11)
• That he will know that Jesus is his best friend, that he can walk and
talk with Him and develop a love relationship (John 15:15)
• That he will develop godly qualities such as diligence, kindness,
honesty, compassion, patience, self-control. Be aware that as you
pray for your child to develop these character traits, God may want
to mature you in the same ways (Colossians 3:12–14)
Pray through the developmental stages. (See author's note below)
Again, to pray for every need our children will have over a lifetime can be overwhelming. You might find it helpful to pray specifically for the developmental stages as your children pass through them.
• Infancy through toddlerhood—You can pray that your infant will develop trust and a strong sense of security as he bonds with you especially. As you’re rocking him, feeding him, and maybe most of all when you’re trying to comfort him in the middle of the night, these prayers can remind you of the critical nature of this precious time together.
• Toddlerhood—You can pray that your children will develop a healthy sense of independence. In these years children begin to see themselves as more distinct from others and are developing a selfconcept. Recognizing and appreciating this stage of autonomy may
help you react with patience as your two-year-old’s favorite word becomes “NO!”
• Early childhood—In these years you might specifically pray for your children to develop a healthy curiosity, to learn to play well with others, to explore and create without a fear of failure.
• School age—From ages seven to ten, the “industry” stage, you might ask God to help your children discover their God-given gifts and talents, to develop a sense of satisfaction and joy in using their skills so that they believe, “I can do this. I have something to contribute.” This is also a critical time for the development of their conscience.
Pray for yourself.
Even though much of your focus is on your children, and rightly so, you must not forget to pray for yourself as well. Having been entrusted with these new lives, you may find yourself in need of God’s perspective and wisdom and help more than ever before. You might pray:
• That you will see your child with the Father’s eyes and respond to
her with His heart
• That you will see into the windows of your child’s heart and
discover her needs
• That you will have God’s heart to know how to train your child as
• That you will be filled with God’s Word, wisdom, and Spirit daily
• That His joy will be your strength so you can find pleasure in every
day of these brief years with your children
As we pray without ceasing, we can make a difference in our children’s healthy development, their salvation, and their growing in grace. We can ask big things for our kids because nothing is too difficult for God. And we can have the joy of watching Him work in their lives as we colabor with Him in prayer for His will to be done and for Christ to be glorified in their
Lord, thank You for the precious children You’ve entrusted to my care. Grant me the grace
to be faithful to pray for them and to never get too busy to come to You
with their needs and my needs. I pray for the wisdom to know what’s most important in this season and for Your love to cover all I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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Excerpted from When Mothers Pray © 1997 by Cheri Fuller. Used by permission of WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. Excerpt may not be reproduced without prior written consent.
My thanks to Barbara Sorrell, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, mom, for sharing with me her understanding of praying through the developmental stages of a child’s life.
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