I have so many dreams for my children. So many prayers that I have whispered into quiet nights. I have sat and rocked babies and silently prayed blessings over them. I have watched kids walk out the door for school, praying all the while for their safety. For their boldness. For their kindness. For tender hearts to hear God speak.
At bedtime, I pray with my children. I speak fairly generic prayers over them while simultaneously holding the baby and counting the seconds until I can sit on the couch. All of my passionate pleadings with God on their behalf have been reserved for silence. For still moments off the beaten path of motherhood.
John Newton had a praying mother. Newton, who wrote “Amazing Grace” and ended up being an influential preacher despite a rough start in life, told stories about his mother and her prayer closet. She spent a lot of time in there, off the beaten path of motherhood, praying for her son and who knows what else. Despite the fact that she died when Newton was only six years old, he remembered clearly times when she would pull him into her prayer closet and lay her hand on his head, praying aloud all of her passionate pleas for her little boy. Later in life when he came to his rather dramatic conversion, he said that he could still almost feel his mother’s hand resting on his head like it had in her prayer closet so many years before.
When I heard this story and thought of my generic let’s-hurry-up-and-pray bedtimes with my kids, I felt sure that I was meant to do more. I believe in the power of those off the beaten path moments of individual prayer. But, why unintentionally hide all of my impassioned cries to God from my children? Why reserve those only for my prayer closet moments when I can bless their lives and stir their very hearts and souls with my words to the Father on their behalf? Why miss the opportunity to impact them so much? In ways that an old man like John Newton could remember, decades later?
When I look at John Newton’s life, a man who was once nicknamed “The Great Blasphemer,” I wonder how many of his mother’s pleas with God, blessings that filled a prayer closet and his little preschooler ears, carried him through his far away years and helped to bring his heart close to Jesus? Only God knows.
But, when my children emulate how I taught them to pray, I don’t want them to be able to recall nothing more than a let’s-get-this-over-with recitation. I want them to remember the passion in my voice, the warmth of my touch, and the blessing of a praying mother who leaves no doubt that God is real and He is listening. That He is more than just a good luck charm.
When they are old, will they still remember the prayers I prayed? When they see them answered, will they know without a doubt that it was God, extending grace to a praying mother and her children? When the prayers go unanswered, will they say, “Even so, we trust Him?” Will they learn to offer their own impassioned pleas to King Jesus?
So many dreams and prayers. My babies will hear them all. And, so will my God.