“Turn us toward yourself, O God of Hosts, show us your face and we shall be saved” (Augustine).
Prayers and mother musings drove me from my bed, producing all-too-familiar sleep patterns. When I became a mother, I discovered that motherhood was a calling to a life of prayer. From the instant I knew a child had been conceived, and sometimes even before, I began to pray. Prayers for my children occupy my mind throughout every single day. I believe mothers send up more requests and pleadings for their children than any other human does during their lifetimes.
These musings occupy my mind for several reasons. My husband’s mother is now gone from us. He is orphaned. Are her heavenly prayers now joining the intercession of Jesus and the Holy Spirit before the Father? I don’t know the mysteries of heaven, but I am mindful of her loss. My prayers must multiply now, picking up her task to intercede for him.
And then, there are our rambunctious offspring.
With six children, there’s plenty to pray about. They are world-changers who blast off to nether regions to help the poor, study health care systems in Asia, and strike romantic poses under the Eiffel Tower. They work their way through college, learn to fly airplanes, earn advanced degrees, change careers, plant churches, and seek to cure cancer. They are bold and courageous.
“Meanwhile my mother persevered in praying for me,” Augustine wrote. “She was far away, but you are present everywhere, so you heard her in that land where she was, and took pity on me where I was.”
As my children were transplanted into the wider world, it became obvious that God was large and I was small.
When children are young a mother fills their lives, but too soon they escape the hearth to live their own lives, to travel far, and to seek their callings. Long after they’ve left mothering care, God remains. He is still there, no matter where they go, able to help in time of need, yearning to draw them tenderly to himself when they no longer desire a mother’s caress. He is the one.
“Father, mother and guardians may be absent,” Augustine confessed to God, “but you are present, you who created us and called us and even through those set over us work for our good and the saving of souls.”
Over 1600 years ago, Augustine ran away from God, took a mistress, and joined a cult. Monica, his mother, prayed faithfully for her child. Of her tear-soaked praying, a bishop told her, “It is inconceivable that he should perish, a son of tears like yours.”
God moved. Augustine yielded his life to Christ. He later confessed to God that when he did, his mother “blessed you, who have power to do more than we ask or understand, for she saw that you had granted her much more in my regard than she had been wont to beg of you in her wretched, tearful groaning.”
Hearts of love move us to pray for our children. Our weeping is essential. No matter what occurs in our children’s lives, whether blessing or trial, our prayers are necessary. We are joined to them from conception onward, no matter where they go. When no one else is in their corner bringing their concerns before God, we are there, weeping and pleading.
This is our most important ministry as mothers. It supersedes all others. They outgrow the need for our physical care, and they need our prayers more than our advice, tempted as we are to give it. Mother, you have been called to a ministry of prayer.
How does your call to prayer shape your life?
All quotes are from The Confessions, Saint Augustine, translated by Maria Boulding, O.S.B., Vintage Spiritual Classics, 1997, page numbers in order: pg. 63, 87, 184, 53, 169.
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