Moms in Prayer

On Tuesday mornings, I meet with a few other moms at a church near my youngest son’s elementary school to pray. We start out praising God and thanking Him for what He’s done for us. Then we pray specifically for our own kids and generally for the students and teachers and staff at the school.

 

The whole thing takes less than an hour. We sit on the floor of a preschool classroom and speak softly to the Creator of the Universe, encouraging each other with our candor and empathy. It’s both commonplace and extraordinary.

 

Our group is a chapter of a much larger organization called “Moms in Prayer.” It’s a worldwide prayer task force that’s been committed to praying for kids and schools since 1984. The mission of “Moms in Prayer” is to cover every school in the world with prayer.

 

As we were meeting this week, I was conscious of something I’ve done a million times before but without really considering it. I noticed my posture while we prayed. It’s nothing unusual. I bowed my head and closed my eyes and sat very still. This is how I was taught to position my body during a prayer and how I’ve taught my own children. From a mother’s point of view, this was a necessary pose for children to remain quiet. Folded hands means those hands aren’t reaching for something else. Closed eyes means those eyes aren’t being distracted by objects in the room.

 

Why this was remarkable to me on this particular occasion remains to be seen, but what I understood a bit better about prayer was the humility of the act. Closing your eyes and bowing your head goes against the animal instinct of protecting yourself. You let down your guard. You admit—even for just a moment—that you’re not in control. Crying out to a God who others might claim can’t hear me is an act of faith and devotion. And it’s a sign of humble supplication.

 

Of course, this isn’t the only acceptable posture for praying. I can’t close my eyes while I’m driving, which is a pretty important time to pray, especially if you’re out doing in any Christmas shopping on the weekends. Sometimes we just can’t physically bow our heads.

 

These various postures remind me of Gideon, God’s appointed judge/general who was called to fight the Midianites. When He told Gideon there were too many soldiers in his army, God first whittled down the number by sending home the frightened men. Then God instructed Gideon to take the remaining men out to the river to drink. Those who put their mouths in the water—heads down and noses dripping—were sent home. The men who crouched by the river bank and scooped up the water in handfuls, watchful of their surroundings, stayed to fight.

 

When we pray we must somehow make ourselves both supplicant and soldier, petitioner and prayer warrior. We humble ourselves but with an intentionality and purpose fit for an important mission. Whether our heads are bowed or our eyes are surveying the heavens, we are blessed with the opportunity to speak to a God who listens.

Names

I like my name. It’s easy to pronounce and spell. When I was growing up, I didn’t know any other girls named “Abby,” so it felt unique without being weird. (Fast forward to 2018: There are plenty of little girls with my name now!) The name Abigailcame from a real-life Bible heroine, a woman whose first marriage was to a fool and second marriage was to a king (1 Samuel 25). She was smart and brave and beautiful and knew how to pack a picnic for 600 fighting men. That’s a high standard to live up to, but names can do that to a person.

 

When we named our four kids, I knew I wanted short names. I spent a few years helping kindergarteners learn how to write out their names, so I knew it could be a daunting task. (Just ask a few of the kids from my first class: Jacqueline, Christopher, and Alexander.) Naming our first three kids weighed heavily on me. I made lists and handed them over to my husband for veto. (Our youngest son’s name came to me in a dream, so no lists were generated and no veto power exercised.)

 

There are loads of times (like daily) when I get the very carefully chosen names of my very cherished children wrong. I regularly call one of my twin daughters by the name of my younger sister. I call my other daughter by her twin sister’s name. I call my older son by my husband’s name and my younger son by his brother’s name. I even call my husband by my older sister’s name. It’s not unusual for me to sound like an auctioneer just trying to summon a family member.

 

I read once that a mom mixes up the names of the people she loves the most, because her love for them is equal. I like that hypothesis. That explains why I never accidentally throw in a name of someone I don’t love unconditionally into the mix. For example, you won’t hear me running through the list this way when I’m calling one of my kids to come to the kitchen: “Come here, Ella…I mean, Lucy…No, Knox…Ugh, Jezebel…Ezra!” It just wouldn’t happen.

 

Names are important and naming a human being is no trivial assignment, but names are actually placeholders for what you really want to call them, but don’t always take the time to say. In place of his name, I really want to call my husband: “Man-I-love-and-rely-on-and-admire-most-of-all-people-ever-and-who-I-still-think-is-cute-after-20-plus-years-of-marriage” but that would take too long, and it definitely wouldn’t fit in my phone contacts.

 

Our names are more than what’s on our driver’s license and how we introduce ourselves to others. Our names are our reputations. They are a few steps in front of us before we enter a room. Rather than just a series of vowels and consonants, our name is what is generally known about us. Our names can be the revealing of our past and unmasking of our personality. As it says in Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”