It seems impossible doesn’t it? My beautiful college friend asked THE question: How do we find time to pray and wait on God as busy moms?
How do we sit at His feet when they are climbing all over our lap?
We wake up to the cry down the hall and we are at work as soon as our feet hit the floor. And we are so bone tired. All. The. Time. We want to pray but every time we get silent enough, we feel a nap coming on, and oh, here it comes, the accompanying wave of guilt.
No guilt served up here.
This is finding time for prayer, the re-mix, the busy mom version. Here’s the original.
The exhausted mom version? I’ve been there. I’m still there many days. I went to sleep at 8:20 last night. No writing, no reading, no Downton Abbey. My kids are 9,7, and 4 and my 4 year old has nightmares, poor guy. He cries out from the upstairs hallway and then I’m awake. Yup, that’s when I pray. Whatever time Xavier has his nightmare is my wakeup call. Yesterday morning? 2:00 a.m. This morning? 5:20 a.m., much more civilized.
OK, I’m up and it’s time for the honest re-mix, the busy mom version.
We want to steal bits of time, to stay focused among the one hundred emergencies a day. If anyone asks me what is hardest about being a mom with young ones it’s the emotional swings. They are skipping with me into a store, each hop going higher and higher throwing their head back with laughter one minute, and utterly dissolved into a puddle of tears, skinned knee the next. In just one day? This times fifty = constantly worn out mom.
This Christmas was THE FIRST batch of un-burnt cookies. First in nine years. I was so proud. Before there was always an emergency in that crucial 10 minutes, (a fall, a fight over a toy, a “mom! I need toilet paper!”), and I burnt 100’s of cookies before completely giving up the fight. Success 9 years later. Huge unwarranted kudos coming from the family. I’ll take it.
We want to hear from God, to have Him empower our work, our motherhood, our marriage, our ministry. Perhaps we want to hear God’s direction for our lives. All of this takes time waiting, which we haven’t got. Now what?
Honestly? Most of my time alone with God for the last 9 years was made possible with a babysitter once a week for six hours. My sanity depended on it. Any ministry I did depended on it. Often I would go sit at a coffee shop with a book and a far-away look unwinding from the stress of mothering wee ones. I would always start by staring at the wall. Yup, just staring. I was allowed to stare, no one was pulling at my jeans. Any books I read, journaling I did, praying I enjoyed, happened during that six hour time period.
Where did we get the idea that the fourth commandment to take a Sabbath does not apply to moms? The truth is that we are on the job if we are at home. On. The. Job.
The story you read this weekend about being refilled by God? It happened on one of these Sabbaths. I had an amazing babysitter during that time. A few. They didn’t charge a lot but they loved my kids and they made this weekly Sabbath possible. Thank you Jennifer, Julia and Kim.
It seems impossible. There’s a money hurdle and you don’t know a reasonable babysitter in your area. Yup, I’m in that position right now. Perhaps you and another mom could switch babysitting for a few hours? Do you have an aunt or a mom close by? Perhaps your man could give you an evening, or take the kids to Playland on Saturday mornings, leave you home in the delicious quiet?
Thirsty? Need more time with God? This is where fasting comes in. Fast a favorite evening television show. Fast a girlfriend visit. Exhausted and having a hard time focusing? He understands. Just offer your imperfect time to God.
Deep breaths. Quiet your heart. Be present with the Lord with a short scripture. Breathe in: “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Breathe out: Be still and know that I am God.” Use the Jesus Prayer: “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Or for the sake of this particular issue of empowering, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses,” (Acts 1:8). That means you too, sister.
I couldn’t get away but my inner healing care group was meeting the next day and I needed God’s Presence to show up strong. I needed more than a good curriculum because He is the only One who truly has the power to heal. Without the Spirit’s power, without Jesus’ authority, without my heart being right before Him, it could be an exercise in frustration instead of another step toward healing.
That’s when I lit a candle and had it burning all day right on top of the kitchen table. Every time I saw it, there was a small invitation to pray. It’s just a simple candle in a glass jar but it reminds me that He is present. It reminds me that prayer is like incense rising before His throne. Sometimes it was a seriously short prayer, imagining Him, the Light of the World, present in the room with us the next day. Sometimes it was a sentence, “Lord, I need You to burn anything away that might hinder You from working tomorrow.”
It’s just a song on repeat and I join the worship while I go about my daily chores. Your Great Name by Natalie Grant. Laura Story’s Mighty to Save. Matt Maher’s Christ is Risen. I might even invite the kids to dance in the kitchen while we pray God’s Kingdom come.
Sometimes when I’m exhausted, I lose all ability to form words. At those moments I can only pray really… simple… prayers. I can only fall on His mercy. This “breath prayer” is from Ron DelBene in a book called, The Breath of Life. It’s perfect for us busy moms. Simple. Profound. Here it is:
We find a moment of quiet before the Lord (nap time? before bed?) and imagine the Lord standing before us, arms outstretched, inviting. He speaks: “What do you most want from me?” Listen for the deep heart’s cry that bubbles to the surface. This, my friend, becomes the simple prayer that you offer. But, don’t let go of the prayer, allow it to become part of the ongoing conversation between you. Breathe with it. Cry out. Keep it simple: “I am lonely.” “I need true rest.” “I need to know that I am loved unconditionally.” Or like Moses: “God, don’t send me out unless you are going!” (Exodus 33:15 Summer’s version).
Finally, there is grace:
Finally, friends, remember that there is outpourings of grace for us. When I first had Xavier and was overwhelmed with all three, 4 1/2, 2 and 0, I would pick up the phone whenever the stress reached over my eyes. My mama in her quiet voice would quote Isaiah 40:11, “He gently leads those who are with young.” Gently. He encourages us to be gentle with ourselves as well. We can live life grace-fueled. No more huge helpings of guilt, only acceptance.
Remember that word? When grace and acceptance and humility intertwines, it’s the quickest way to fall back into His power alone and be filled right back up.
Thirsty for more? Let’s go to the well together. Come along for the journey. Put your email in the “Connect” box on the front page and lets pilgrimage together.
Thirsty for more encouragement? Encouragement 101 for you. Blessings, friend!
Counting thanks with Ann Voskamp and writing in community with the insightful Laura Boggess:
1. Thank you Jesus for Ann, for her courage, for her obedience in writing…I’m sending her book into dark places and watching them light up bright!
2. Mom and Dad Gross’ encouragement. I was cornered to keep writing, to find more avenues for these words to find a home! Cornered in a good way, of course!
3. Xavier’s love of legos. He builds and I clean and I’m crazy thankful for multi-colored plastic pieces everywhere.
4. After School Kids: Beautiful women giving their time to teach, beautiful friendships started. So thankful.
5. Drinking in beauty at the National Aviary. Drinking in oxygen. Watching my boy’s eyes light up.
6. My brother’s wedding at a chateau in France this August? I’m crazy excited.
7. Aaron and Elodie setting up home this side of the Atlantic. Kissing baby’s cheeks more often.
8. Feeling stilled, thankful, purpose-filled.
9. Salt-tasting at Church of the Incarnation, Strip District. Thank you Dr. Leslie and Fr. Paul for the imagery that will stay with our children forever. My favorite? The Himalayan pink
10. Roast with red wine filling my house with that gorgeous earthy smell all day.