praying expectantly

We’ve been having a little bit of trouble with one of our munchkins.  She’s just going through a phase.  But it’s a really annoying, long phase.  And frankly, mommy is getting tired of it.

The short of it is this: we are training our children to be part of the family; meaning belonging to, together with

And, because we are a large family, each member really does have to carry part of the load: doing chores around the house, clearing the table after meals, overcoming the laundry mountain, cleaning up after one’s self.  In the madness and rush of getting out the door, for example, it is really irritating when this one particular blessing of mine decides that she’s going to go wait for everybody inside the car.  And she’s brought nothing out there with her.  And she’s not helping us get ready.  “Many hands make light work,” right?  Yeah, my munchkin doesn’t quite understand the concept.

As I sit here and type this out, it actually sounds a little ridiculous that it gets under my skin so much, but just bear with me.  I know there are things (even silly, insignificant little things) that make us moms cringe and whisper a quick little prayer for “PATIENCE, NOW, PLEASE!!!”  I know I’m not the only one.  We’ve talked to her about helping, we’ve explained that mommy needs her assistance, that she should be doing this and that and this other thing.  No dice.

So, I decided to do something more about it; more than just nagging at my kiddo; more than getting myself all worked up into a frazzle over silliness.  That night, as I tucked my monkeys into bed and prayed over them, as I very often do, I prayed aloud for this one child of mine, thanking the Lord for how helpful she is, for how much she volunteers to do extra, for how I couldn’t get out the door without her help.

Was I lying?

No.  I do my very best not to lie.  There never is a good reason to lie.

Instead, I chose to pray expectantly, as if my prayer had already been answered and thank the good Lord for that answered prayer.  I chose to speak words of life and encouragement to my child.  I chose to have her hear me speak this over her in order that she could envision herself as more capable, as better than she is, as a closer example of Jesus.

After our amens, my sweet baby had tears in her eyes, and she asked, “Do you really think I can do all that?”

I will never forget the look of hope in her little face.

It instantly became so clear to me that this “phase” my child is going through is just her inability to see beyond her apparent, self-imposed limitations.  It occurred to me that she didn’t believe she could do more than she already did, or that she is really, honest to goodness able to help.  And that, my friends, is why I am here.  There are few other more noble reasons for my existence than to shepherd a child — my child — to continue to realize her potential, understand just what greatness she is capable of.

Has this expectant prayer forever revolutionized our family life?  Nope.  Do we still struggle with “the phase?”  Yep. Parenting and shepherding is an ever-present, all-consuming, every-moment thing.  And it proves that little people need us, constantly.

But this expectant prayer reminds her that she is capable, that she was created for great things.

Yes, we do run into the occasional, “Oops, sorry, mommy.  I forgot to bring things out to the car.”  But for the most part, she’s involving herself in the belonging to, in the being part of thing.  And often, we return to that expectant prayer, thanking the Lord in advance, for He hears and He delights in our prayers.

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  (James 5:16)

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