Praying With Toddlers

This blog post is a part of the 31 Days of Prayer Blog.  If you’d like to read other posts about  prayer, follow this link.  

D-Custom-Brand-DisconnectDoes there ever seem to be a disconnect between the things you WANT to do and the things you ACTUALLY do? It seems like the new year especially is ripe for our more idealistic thinking.

You want to be disciplined in your eating. But your weakness for potato chips and dip late at night wins 80% of the time.

You want to exercise more. But you’re too tired by the time work is over, and there’s something just not right about exercising before the sun is up.

As a mom of four young children, I’ve set my expectations a little lower these days: take a shower three times a week, brush my teeth every day, don’t forget any of the children in the car during errands . . . yes, 2016 is a year of big dreams. 😉

One area in which I am committed to grow, however, is in becoming a mother of prayer. Several weeks ago, my husband was preaching an incredible message about being a prayerful parent and I was inspired. He stated, “You’re not going to be a perfect parent, so you might as well be a praying parent.”

power-praying-motherYes, I will be a praying parent. I will get up early in the morning and intercede for my family in an hour-long prayer session every day. That is what I WANT to do.

And before I even had the chance to try my prayerful pipe dream, I already heard the voice of reality telling me what’s really going to happen.

Tired-Mom2Get up early!?! Who are you kidding? After taking care of an infant through the night, you can barely get up to get your daughter off to school. And pray for an hour?? When is the last time you did anything for one, uninterrupted hour? Can you even go to the bathroom for two uninterrupted minutes? You’re never going to accomplish this goal. You’re going to try and do it, sleep in by day two, and condemn yourself with a nice dose of guilt for the next five days and give up by the second week of January. That is what will ACTUALLY happen.

I knew the voice of Reality Leah was right. But I really wanted the voice of Idealistic Leah to win. There had to be a way to make the two meet somewhere in the middle.

So how does a busy mom of toddlers incorporate prayer into everyday life? Even finding 20 minutes to pray can seem like a challenge. I’ve been giving it some thought and I came up with three quick guidelines, and to make it as memorable as possible, it’s an acronym.

IMG_9472-1M – Make a plan. This goes without saying, but if there’s no intentional plan in place, it’s never going to happen. My plan had to get a little creative when it came to praying for 20 minutes. If I can’t find 20 minutes in a row, maybe I could spread it out through the day in intentional chunks?

 

Sitting in church that day at 12:07 PM, I took out my phone and set five different alarms: 8:07 AM – Pray for Gabby, 10:07 AM – Pray for Claire, 12:07 PM – Pray for Caleb, 2:07 PM – Pray for Karis, 4:07 PM – Pray for Brad. Every day, whatever I’mdoing at those moments, and wherever I am, I stop and pray for that family member.

I’m not claiming that my 30 second-4 minutes focused prayers are going to win any Prayer Warrior of the Year Awards, but it’s 4 minutes more than I was doing before. It’s a start.

O – Open With a Focus.

This is one of the reasons I love the Praying With Confidence book and the Declaration sheets. Having a scriptural focus when praying is invaluable. If I don’t have a focus, I find that my prayers consist of a laundry list of mainly irrational concerns for each family member. The “prayer” quickly degrades to glorified worrying. Having a focus, however, reminds me of the Truth of God’s Word and the declarations He’s already given me for my family. My son will be a strong man of God, not the three-year-old terrorist that I see right before naptime each day.

M – (Re-) ‘Member Grace. J

Guilt is a powerful emotion and Mommy Guilt can be the most potent of all. Sometimes, I think of my prayer and journal times in other seasons of life, and I feel condemnation that I am not sustaining hour-long quiet times in this season. Or I look at my family and think if I just prayed more, maybe they wouldn’t [fill in the blank with whatever they are struggling with here]. While I don’t want to be satisfied with complacency in my relationship with Jesus, He’s continually reminding me of His Grace being sufficient at all times, even when my physical exhaustion prevents me from getting up to pray for an hour.

While I’m far from becoming an expert in prayer, I’m committed to growing in it during whatever season of life I find myself. That’s something that I WANT to do and will ACTUALLY happen.