When I wrote about the half a dozen or so points that I think cover how to become the wife and mother that God wants us to be, I named the first point “God First.” The best way to go about successfully living our vocation is to go to the source and author of our vocation. God established marriage and motherhood. He designed them to be a high calling, a means of sanctification, a channel of grace ~ both to us and to our husbands and children. This is how He asks us to serve Him and He provides the means for us to do so successfully.
In order for us to achieve those means, we must focus our hearts, our time and our attention on Him. He knows our circumstances, our weaknesses, our kids, our husbands and our selves. He knows them better than we do. He alone has the power to bring about healing, hope and transformation in each of us. As mom, though, we are a major and powerful tool in the hands of God if we choose to be.
God is love. He loved us first. He chose us, we did not choose Him. We have only responded to His love and we have to continue to respond to Him. Faith is a gift given by the Holy Spirit, but it is one that must be nurtured or it will dry up. How do we nurture this faith? The nuts and bolts of nurturing our faith are prayer, the sacraments and knowing God and our faith. We must pray, receive the sacraments and study His word and the teachings of the Church to grow in faith. I think I’ll touch on my favorite subject, one I’ve written on before: Prayer. (I’ll write more on sacraments and study at another time.)
Everyone (and I mean everyone) has an obligation to pray. Everyone also has the opportunity to pray. No one (and I do mean no one) is too busy to pray, to enter in to time with the Lord.) Sometimes it can be a challenge for sure, but we always have time and opportunity, no matter who we are. Being a full time mom, at home, provides us with ample opportunities to pray throughout the day. It also gives us plenty to pray about! It is our privilege and duty to anoint our days and our homes with prayer.
It is quite beneficial, I believe, for a mother to find a way to pray before her day begins. For me, this means getting up in plenty of time before the kids (and the husband!) to sit quietly before the Lord and that means that (normally) I’m up before the crack of dawn… long before. It means grabbing some coffee and beginning my day with prayer. Of course, not everyone can get up quite so early. For another woman it might mean that dedicated prayer time is at nap time or after the kids go to bed, but I firmly believe that every woman needs dedicated prayer time in addition to prayer throughout the day.
Before I move on, I really want to take a minute to “promote” the idea of morning prayer before the day begins (whatever time that is in your house.) I find that when I take the time for unhurried prayer and open myself to God and his will for me that day, before the day begins, that things do tend to unfold more peacefully. Not always better, mind you, but more peacefully. I also find that if I miss that, things do not go as peacefully and I find myself trying to do everything in my own strength rather than His.
Of course, the kids remain kids and dying to self is hard, but once I’ve dedicated the day and all that it brings to the Lord and spend time with Him (praising, thanking, interceding, petitioning and more) He is faithful to give me the graces I need to face everything. By coming to God first-thing, I am prepared for what lies ahead, not constantly putting out fires as they show themselves. Not that I don’t have fires. I do. I think that it is a lot easier to go for the grace before the crisis than just beg for it in the middle of it. Even if it’s just a morning offering, turning our hearts and minds to God first, before things get underway, offering him ourselves and asking for the grace to do His will before we meet the blessings and challenges of the day is of great advantage. There is something very real and good about asking God to walk with us before the first step, so to speak, rather than after the first stumble. So, you don’t have an hour to spend with the Lord in the morning? That’s okay. Can you find 5 minutes? or 10? Enough to make a morning offering, entrust yourself, your husband, your children, and your day to Him? Probably so.
It is true that God knows our day before we wake. He knows what we need that day. Every trial, every challenge, every good thing is given to us with everything we need to remain in Christ and remain and peace and to discern His will in all things. Just because that is true, however, does not mean that we should not go to Him first and ask Him to help us, to show us, to guide us, to bless us.
In the Magician’s Nephew, by C.S. Lewis, there is a part where Diggory and Polly are on their journey to the garden and Diggory is a bit upset about the fact that there is no food for them. He and Polly are having a conversation with Fledge, the winged, talking horse.
“Well, I do think someone might have arranged about our meals,” said Diggory.
“I’m sure Aslan would have, if you’d asked him,” said Fledge.
“Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” said Polly.
“I’ve no doubt he would,” said the Horse (still with his mouth full [of grass). “But I’ve a sort of idea he likes to be asked.”
God does know everything we need. He understands our needs better than we do, but He likes to be asked. We really must pray each day, regularly, to ask Him to meet our needs, to give us grace, to heal our brokenness and to thank Him for His goodness to us.
Prayer does not end at the bottom of the coffee cup or with the stirring of the first child or the end of nap time. Throughout the day we should make it our practice to turn to the Lord and ask for His help, to offer Him praise, to sing to Him. We can offer age-old prayers such as the Jesus Prayer ~ “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” or “Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I love you. Save souls.” There are also traditional prayers offered throughout the day such as The Magnificat, the Angelus, Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy and so on. We can end the day with an examination of conscience and and Act of Contrition.
Prayer is like water to our soul. Without water, we whither and cannot become all He designed us to be. Through prayer we obtain graces for ourselves and for others and through prayer we can discover the solutions to our problems, healing for our souls and we can better understand and discern the will of God for our lives. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to increase our prayer. Let us also dedicate ourselves to an active, consistent prayer life so that we may enter more fully into the heart of God and be the women, the mothers, we were created to be.