24/7 prayer

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.