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How One Mom Taught Her Son to Pray

A loving testimony of learning how to navigate life through prayer

A mother's prayers
Credit: Getty Images

I don’t doubt that Jesus was girded up by the prayers of His mother, and at least from the gospel of John’s account, she was there at the Crucifixion. “Woman, here is your son,” He said to Mary, placing her in the care of John, the disciple He loved. And to John he said, “Here is your mother.” 

We look after our mothers, but our mothers look after us. My father was the one who always said grace at dinner, blessing the food to our use “and the hands that prepared it.” Mom’s much-blessed hands. It was Mom who once revealed to me that she never went to bed at night without saying a prayer for all four of us. Here’s how Mom’s prayers were threaded through our lives:

To pray is to do and to do is to pray. Mom was always present for her kids, in good times and bad. She hugged me when I cried—over some squabble at school or a disappointing grade. She celebrated with us when we were happy. Like when I called her up in the middle of the night to tell her about the birth of our first son, her grandson.

Prayer opens you up to the feelings of others. And as you grow in compassion, you are guided in your prayers. You pray and do…and then want to pray some more.

To pray is to show up. You probably know this already from your church experience. The people who make the biggest difference are the ones who show up. To Bible study, to worship, to help out at the soup kitchen, to serve coffee at the hospitality hour.

My mom—and dad—always showed up. They were there for school games, our choir concerts, our plays, our graduations, our back-to-school nights. Mom was one of my Sunday school teachers in fifth and sixth grade. Hearing a parent talk to your classmates about faith. What a gift to them. And to you.

To pray like a parent is to bring out the parent in you. How well I remember that traumatic month when our four-year-old son broke his femur and landed in the hospital for 26 days of traction. And his older brother, our seven-year-old, came down with the chicken pox.

Mom lived across the country, but she didn’t hesitate to get on the plane, fly out and help us—the overburdened parents. Did she pray as she sat by our kids’ beds? I don’t doubt it. Even as she watched one more episode of Barney & Friends, starring the purple dinosaur. 

To pray is to ask for forgiveness. Nobody’s perfect. Even my mom. But when she blew up at us —with four kids, each two years apart, we surely tested her patience—she also apologized. Almost immediately. And said it so that we knew she meant it. 

As Jesus said, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone…” (Mark 11:25). It’s a crucial part of the Lord’s Prayer. And a crucial part of living. Thanks, Mom, for showing me the way.

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