I have believed in prayer since I was a little girl. Sitting at our dinner table of 9, our family would pray before we ate. ”Let’s say grace,” my mom would say…
“Bless us oh Lord, and these thy gifts,
which we are about to receive,
from thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen”
Though I did not understand the words and I was just reciting them to follow the rules, I was given the gift of seeing my family pray.
As I began to grow older, my mother charged my older sister with the responsibility of teaching me the Lord’s Prayer. Each night before going to my own bed, I would snuggle under the blanket next to her as she recited each line until I knew it by heart.
“Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed by thy name;
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespassed against us,
And lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil. Amen”
In the 4th grade, I sang a prayer with my classmates in Chapel that I loved:
“Let there be Peace on Earth
And Let it begin with me.
Let there be Peace on Earth
The Peace that was meant to be…
With God as our Father,
Brothers all are we;
Let me walk with my brother,
In perfect harmony…”
My teenage years brought sorrows, losses and change. The lies seeded in my experiences had convinced me that God didn’t hear. I prayed anyway. Like an anchor to the past my prayers connected me to something I knew was good.
I grew into a young adult, got married and eventually had children. The memories of my childhood prayers birthed a desire in me to teach our children to pray. Each night at our table, my husband and I delighted in their voices as they sang a prayer before dinner…
“God our Father, God our Father
Once, again, once again,
Thank you for our blessings,
Thank you for our blessings. Amen. Amen.
Our children remember. Over the holidays, one of them sang it at our table and we burst out laughing, enjoying the moment and connection we share.
Prayer connects hearts.
As a young wife and mother of 4, there were days I longed for connection with other women. My hunger led me to begin a weekly playgroup with other moms and their children. Eventually, our ‘playgroup’ became a ‘prayer-playgroup.” Throughout pre-school years, as our children played, we prayed for our marriages, our husbands, our children, churches, schools, government leaders , teachers. We had passionate conversation.
In the midst of our ordinary lives something extraordinary happened during this “prayer-playgroup.” Our hearts were deeply connected. We were wives and mothers…and we became prayer warriors.
Recently, I found the book that I shared in our original prayer-group 20 years ago:
Comprised by Ruth Bell Graham, it is a book of prayers uttered by moms in the trenches. Reading the words again connected me to their hearts in new ways.
I found the page I had earmarked entitled “Praying on the Hoof.” In our group that day, we discussed how the gift of prayer was available no matter how busy we were and no matter where or what we were doing…Making beds, cleaning toilets, working, changing diapers, waiting in the pick-up line at school.
Much has happened over 20 years…injuries, illnesses, awards, baptisms, deaths, celebrations, achievements and heartbreaks.
Today, I am a wife and mother in a season of transition.
Two of our sons are young adults and life as we knew it has changed. Looking through the book from so long ago, I happened upon a prayer for grown sons…
They are men now, Lord…And I am helpless before the problems that grown sons face. I cannot right earth’s wrongs or smooth their pathways, but, dear Lord, You can…companion them, I ask for nothing greater than this rich blessing for these precious ones, the whole companionship of Christ as counselor and guide to these my sons. I loose their hands, having done all I could do, and trust them, Lord, implicitly to You. Grace Noll Crowell
I can rest in the Truth that remains the same from past to present…
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26
And today, I am a woman with a dream. My prayer:
that Love will be translated into every language of the world…that each will know true Hope.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Prayers are powerful…and so are the men, women and children who utter them.
“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too hard for Me?” Jer. 32:27
Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.
Ellen…this touched my heart deeply. Especially the part about praying for your adult sons. I am going to write that out and make it my prayer as well! Thank you for sharing your heart for prayer.
Glad your heart was touched by this post…and I hear your heart for your family. Blessings!
Thanks for giving me a glimpse into the prayers of your life. They are beautiful and powerful…ones I have known and loved, too. You are a blessed lady with blessed children…it is a blessing to be your friend.
Thanks Mary Jane – your friendship is a blessing to me as well…
I have been eternally blessed as one of those prayer-playgroup moms. As the years have flown by and our “playgroup kids” near 21, I often think back to those days when they were so young and I was so weary. Our prayers and fellowship revived my soul. I still send up prayers when I’m scrubbing toilets. Every word in your post is an inspiration and reminder of your beautiful heart and soul.
I remember those years too, Kim and the Goodness in them…and I look forward to the years to come too…blessed by your presence, prayers and friendship!
My treasured friend Ellen, I so look forward to your postings here because they are such a gift! How blessed am I to get to live life with you in New Braunfels. We have prayed together for many things and to “loosen” our grip on our young adult children has been one of the hardest. Today you reminded me of two beautiful words…Trust and Hope. Thank you for sharing and radiating LOVE. It is contagious!
Trust and hope – YES! I am grateful for your encouragement and support. It is good to share life with you, through prayer and friendship!
I am enlightened and inspired by your thought provoking words and am reminded that when things are difficult lean on and trust in The Lord thru prayer thanks for the encouragement !
Glad you were encouraged…and I treasure your prayers for us, Jimmy. Your words lean and trust remind me that even when I have no words, He is there carrying us! Grateful!
Oh Ellen I loved your faith sharing. Sharing your stories of when you were a little girl once again confirmed my belief that what we do and say and teach our young children (and now grandchildren), makes a difference. At times we wondered, but 20 years later I think we can see the fruits of those prayers. Let us never grow weary now that they are older, married, parents themselves.
My 86 year old mother told me last month, “I prayed when you kids were little that God would let me live long enough to raise my kids, then I prayed to God to let me see my grandkids. Now I have 6 great-grandchildren. God has given me more than I ever dreamed of and I will be eternally thankful.”
My memories of our play group will always be some of the best in raising my kids – and all because you answered God’s call to bring us together:))) And Kim, I still laugh about you scrubbing toilets!
Dear Ellen, I cried and cried reading your entry. You highlighted tenderness and faithfulness of our heavenly Father. I sent it on to my children. It was that important! We are one with one another as we love and pray for our kids. So, thank you for calling to mind so much goodness we have in Christ Jesus through prayer. Stunning compilation of the journey. A great reminder where I have been and how near Jesus has been with me all of these years.
Ellen, I have always known you as a strong women who prays but I did not know all of this sweet history. Thank you for sharing here. I had great tenderness well up in me as I read your words. I also think I need to get a hold of that book. I especially loved the timed entry for the grown sons. Love you.