From my earliest childhood, I dreamed of being a mommy. When I played house as a little girl, I didn’t just play dress-up tea parties, I played at the work part of life: doing dishes, cleaning the house, cooking, and caring for babies. When I got a bit older, I played school. When I got older still, I began babysitting (which, by my own design, also included cooking and cleaning—much to the delight of my employers!). So I guess it should be no surprise that when I became a mother at the age of twenty, I took it very seriously.
In fact, I pretty much ate, slept, worked, breathed, and lived “mommy.” I was determined to be the best mommy and have the best kids—in every sense of the word. I read everything I could get my hands on about child development and applied the things I learned. I talked tirelessly to our babies, way before they could understand what I was saying. I told them what I was doing, what they were doing, what colors things were, how many things we were seeing, where we were going, and more—much more. I was reading books to them and pointing to the pictures before they were two months old.
As they got a bit older, I continued looking for ways to help them learn and grow up well. We counted raisins at snack time. We colored pictures. We played at learning to stand on one foot and hop. We learned to sing and say the alphabet. We played in the sandbox. We went for walks. We worked on learning to share and have positive attitudes. We used scissors, clay, and paints. Day in and day out, I was doing all sorts of things to help make our kids smarter and better prepared for life.
Yes, I was unashamedly trying to help them become as smart and as good as possible. Yes, I was trying to help their brains make connections. Yes, I was working to help them develop coordination. Yes, I was consistently disciplining and training them. Yes, I was working on developing good relationships. Yes, I was doing all that and more.
And it wasn’t to show our kids off and make me look good. It was because I was truly trying to give them a head start that would serve them well and prepare them for the rest of their lives. I fully believed, and still do, that raising children in an educationally rich environment and doing things that will help their brains make connections will make a huge difference in the outcome of their lives.
But I didn’t pray for my children.
Yes, you read that right. I did not pray for my children.
I did not become serious about serving the Lord myself until our children were four and six years old. So, for four and six long, important, formative years, our boys had a mommy who loved them immensely, played with them tirelessly, worked with them diligently, sacrificed for them willingly, and wanted the very best for them with all my misguided heart.
But I neglected to do the very best for them.
During all those years they were without the benefit of a mother’s prayers. I did not entreat God for their eternal souls. I did not pray that He would turn their hearts to Him. I did not seek His blessings on their lives. I did not ask Him to help them obey. I did not ask the Lord for wisdom, guidance, strength, or grace for my journey as a mom—though, believe me, I desperately needed all those things.
I did not pray for my children. Oh, how that tears at my heart still today! The utter foolishness, danger, and waste of living life without prayer is staggering. The consequences are huge. My neglect of the children I dearly loved in such a vital area cuts me to the core. Where was my head? What was I thinking?
Since the fall in the garden of Eden, a war has been waging for the heart, mind, soul, and life of every living person. No matter what our children do in life, whatever they become, however long they live, one thing is certain: they will be in a battle daily with the enemy of their souls. Our prayers as moms can have an impact on whether our children win or lose that battle!
As parents, we can do so many of the “right” things. We can lovingly, diligently, and consistently raise and train our children. We can raise them to be responsible, obedient children. We can foster positive, healthy relationships. But only God can change their hearts. Only God can make them clean inside. Only God can save their souls. Only God can get them to heaven.
I am so thankful that I eventually did come to the Lord and let Him begin to mold and shape me. I finally did begin praying for my children! I prayed for their salvation—that God would turn their hearts and minds to Him and give them a love for His Word and His way. I prayed for God’s guidance and blessing in their lives. I prayed for our sons’ wives, way back when they were still just little boys. I prayed about problems they had. I prayed about their health. I prayed for all our descendants who will ever be born. I prayed about all sorts of things for our boys. And I’m so thankful and blessed to say that not surprisingly, God was gracious beyond compare and has answered so many prayers that were near and dear to my heart!
Though I’ve prayed much over the years and have seen countless answers to prayer, I must confess that I sometimes didn’t, and still don’t, pray as much as I should. Sometimes I allow myself to get too busy to pray. Sometimes I feel too tired to pray. Sometimes I get busy doing instead of praying. Sometimes I even get caught up in worrying, instead of praying. In other words, to my shame, I still sometimes neglect one of the very chief things.
Our pastor has said (and I wholeheartedly agree!) that “Prayer should be our first response, not our last resort.” How we need to fully grasp the truth of the importance and specialness of prayer. Prayer can get places we cannot go. Prayer can do things we cannot do. Prayer can change hearts and minds—our own and others’. Prayer can calm us. Prayer can move the hand of God.
Oh, Mama, whoever you are, wherever you are—I beg you, don’t neglect to pray for your precious children! Yes, helping develop our children’s brains and bodies is important. Yes, raising children in an educationally rich environment is important. Yes, homeschooling is important. But prayer for our children is imperative. May we, with the prophet of old, say with all our hearts “As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” (1 Samuel 12:23).
“Because He hath inclined His ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2). No matter where we are in life, no matter how old or young our children are, whatever we do, whatever we face, let’s not neglect prayer! The very God of heaven is bending toward us, waiting for, and listening to, our prayers.
May we as homeschooling moms call upon the Lord as long as He gives us breath!
Kari Lewis is the "mom" here at Home School Enrichment. She and Frank have been married since 1977 and homeschooled their two sons, Matthew and Jonathan, from their early elementary years through their high school graduations. Together, the four of them started Home School Enrichment Magazine in late 2002. More recently, she's been enjoying her new role of mother-in-law and grandma! You can reach her at kari@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.