I am so grateful and blessed that the Mothers Prayers service was held during the Military Council of Catholic Women Forum on Saturday. I have been involved with Mothers Prayers since it was first taught to me and a group of other Military wives and mothers in 1998.
We were living in Heidelberg, Germany where my husband was assigned to the US Army Europe headquarters. The kids and I did not see Sean much that tour. But we carried on as normally as possible. By that I mean we did not change our routine or mope around feeling sorry for ourselves. We continued to tend to the duties and activities of our lives and to pray for their daddy every night at bedtime. And to miss him like crazy. But this situation was nothing new for us, sadly. He seems to have been assigned to jobs that took him away from the time my kids were 7 and 4 until…well, almost up until he retired! Maybe a year or so shy of that. They are now 31 and 28 years old. Long time. He wasn’t always gone to combat zones; there were long days and nights and there were frequent Temporary Duty (TDY) assignments that took him away for days or weeks and training events that did the same. This is true for many Army families.
Raising kids ‘alone’ is not an easy task for any parent but we did the best we could, those two amazing Army brats and I. I would do a sort of ‘Examen’ at the end of the day as I lay in bed to contemplate what I could have handled better, what I’d done wrong, recall funny or loving moments from our day. There were always plenty of both the good and the ugly! And then I would ask God for forgiveness where I’d failed and for wisdom and strength to try again the next day.
Mothers Prayers was an answer to prayers for me. It is up and running in many countries but at that point in time had not been known to the US Military or the US civilian population either. It is now in both, I’m pleased and thankful to report!
Mothers Prayers is an international movement consisting of groups of mothers who gather together to pray for our children. Amazing things happen when we call upon the Lord, asking His blessing and protection of our children. Lives are changed, God is glorified.
A Mothers Prayers group can be started in any chapel, congregation, or even in your neighborhood. I was blessed to participate in Mothers Prayer services for the better part of two decades, always an amazing, comforting ministry.
And in Mothers Prayers I learned a deeper trust of our God. Yes, He loves our children so much more than we are capable of understanding. He loves us the same way. When a mother is worried for her children’s safety or their salvation, she can forget the love God has for each of them. Mothers Prayers helps us to remember, to believe it, and so to trust in Him.
The morning of that first Mothers Prayers service I was a little uncertain. A prayer service? Would I be asked to pray out loud in front of other people?! Would there be speaking in tongues? Who could say what this woman might expect of us or ask us to do? I was not very peaceful at the start of that service.
But Lauren, an Air Force wife who had driven down from Mannheim, Germany, about 30 minutes away, had been doing it for a while and was eager to share. I think she was a friend of one of our chapel group wives. Or at least they had met and one of our group had learned of this prayer service. We used to have a program once a month on first Fridays so this was that Friday.
Lauren explained how she learned of Mothers Prayers from the founder of the prayer service, Veronica Williams. I didn’t pay very close attention as I was kind of nervous, as I’ve already explained. But that was the gist of it. And then we began…
It was a very simple, calm, meaningful series of prayers that take the participants from asking for the Holy Spirit’s presence (hence the peace we experienced), to protection, to forgiveness, to praise in song, to proclaiming the Word from Sacred Scripture, to joining our prayers with other Mothers Prayers groups throughout the world, to actually placing the names of our children into a basket at the foot of the cross. Then there was a closing prayer and there were tears and relief from some among us.
I was profoundly moved by that experience. I felt my worries not only for myself in that unfamiliar situation, but more importantly the fears for my children, melt away like a dusting of snow on a window pane when the sun comes out from behind the clouds. I almost immediately understood that now that Mothers Prayers had been introduced to the US Military, there was no stopping the spread of this powerful form of prayer around the world via US Military wives who are stationed just about eveywhere!
I felt commissioned by Jesus to do so. As in other moments of my life, I realized that once I understood the importance of sharing something good with others, it was no longer something I could consider doing, but it was something I MUST do. Commissioned, compelled – I knew I could not just return to my life of worry and often feeling hopelessly lost as to what I should do next with my children in an Army life that seemed destined to have lots of time without their dad. And I didn’t want others to miss out on this amazingly moving experience either.
So, that day I went home and talked to two of my stairwell neighbors about this extraordinary event I’d been a part of and asked them if they’d like to start praying with me once a week? Neither of them had been at the prayer service but I guess my enthusiasm and description of what it was like inspired them to say ‘yes’ to my invitation.
And then I was so scared! I had NEVER led a prayer service before! You may recall my nerves at just attending one! But I figured that God had placed this desire in my heart so I had to trust that He’d carry it out. We met after we took our kids to school on Monday mornings and it was awesome. So awesome, in fact, that I took Mothers Prayers with me to every Military faith community (and one civilian) we lived in from that day forward. There were 11 of them. I would take the Mothers Prayers booklet with me to the pastor and show it to him. Then I would ask him if I could start a group. They all said yes!
I would pick a day, time and location at the chapel and we were off! Some places there were only 2 of us; some places there were 20 of us. Sometimes the numbers fell somewhere in between. But with each passing year I slowly came to realize – maybe around the time that daughter of mine who had been 11 when I started Mothers Prayers and my son was 8, was off to college and high school, respectively, that my trust in God had deepened. It had grown with every passing year of Mothers Prayers. For I realized that if I’d trust God with my kids, I would trust Him with anything. With everything.
That trust permeates every aspect of my life now. And I have Mothers Prayers to thank for that! Another place I was able to share Mothers Prayers was at the bi-annual MCCW conferences (now forums) that I attended and was also occasionally involved in executing. I would hold one or two breakout sessions in which I was able to present Mothers Prayers by conducting a service with small groups of women. But each time I did that, I would get requests for books so that members of that session could go home and begin their own Mothers Prayers groups. And then they would move and take it somewhere else!
The best thing about Mothers Prayers is that it is shared and it spreads ‘mom to mom.’ It’s a sort of ‘train the trainer’ arrangement where you learn how to do it from the woman who presents and then you are now ready to be the leader in your own faith community.
Additionally, as my husband became a more senior Army officer, I found that my time was not always my own and it was more difficult to carve out a definitive day and time each week or even month to conduct the Mothers Prayers service. So I began to ask the priest, get his OK, and then hold one community prayer service asking someone to prayerfully consider stepping forward to lead it each week or month as her schedule allowed.
That has how it’s been for the last several years. So, all that to say that a couple of years ago Mothers Prayers coordinator was made a permanent board position on the MCCW worldwide board. And last fall every MCCW regional retreat held a Mothers Prayers service for all attendees. Last week my prayers for 30 years were answered as we conducted a Mothers Prayers service for over 200 women at the Worldwide Forum in San Diego.
Tears of gratitude filled my eyes and spilled over on to my cheeks. This was the realization of a dream, of a vision that was 20 years in the making. And it was God’s perfect timing that it should occur just about 10 days before my Soldier’s final official day in the Army.
I could tell you lots more about the amazing Mothers Prayers movement, but this has gone on long enough! If you are a Military Spouse and interested in starting a group, I can put you in touch with the MCCW MP coordinator. Or if you are not Military, but still interested, I can put you in touch with the US Mothers Prayers coordinator who will be happy to send you some booklets. If you have any questions, please ask.
I just want to end by saying my advice to everyone is, “Stay faithful to the task you believe God gives you.” I faithfully brought Mothers Prayers with me to each new Army post and even to a civilian community when we were not on a post. I did not worry whether it would take off and reach the many numbers of women I believed and envisioned it would reach all those years ago. I would not concern myself with that. I just went about in my own “little way,” sharing and praying with other concerned Moms, hoping that they would develop the deep faith in God’s promises, the trust in His love and mercy, that Mothers Prayers had given me. When or if it grew was His concern, not mine.
Sharing the gift is the way to go. Every time. Just stay faithful to the task. I must stress that God will be glorified, lives will be changed. And not just your children’s lives, but yours, as well.