A Mother’s First Response

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Suddenly, I realized they were gone.

Moments earlier, my daughter and her friend were playing in the woods just beyond our fence. Armed with tall boots and warm gloves, they’re often found building tepees and bridges or playing in the treehouse and creek. The adventurous girls usually tromp around our property like they own the place.

After a few minutes of being inside, I came out to check on them both. Standing on the back deck, I couldn’t see or hear them. My husband and I didn’t think they would wander off because they had clear guidelines to stay within our property, and they were old enough to trust. They knew better than to go near our pond or the widened creek.

Do Not Be Anxious

As if we had an organized plan in place, my husband and I set out in different directions, calling their names. I jumped over the creek and began praying aloud to God. I found myself chanting prayers of praise for who He is– the same ones we pray at Moms in Prayer.

“God, You are faithful. You’re omnipresent! You are with my daughter and her friend at this very moment, because You are always present everywhere. You’re their protector! There is nothing that can harm them because You are on guard. God, You already sent angels! You have commanded Your angels to guard them in all their ways.”

Here I was, in the middle of a fear-filled nightmare. But just as we practice every Tuesday morning at Moms in Prayer, my words were praise. I didn’t stop. I didn’t even pause, because the words were ready on my tongue to fight the battle exactly the way I’d prepared.

After searching, my husband and I met back up. We assumed the other had found the girls. But the girls had not been found.

Don’t Be Anxious about Anything

I decided to go to the large pond to check for accidents. As I ran, my prayerful chanting turned into yelling. I began crying out to God with tear-filled eyes.

“God, You are good. You have your eye on them. You’re leading me to them; there is nothing impossible for You. You are their helper, their fortress.”

Every attribute of God I’ve prayed in a group welled up within me. I found incomprehensible peace as I prayed, just as His Word promises in Philippians 4:6-7. I confidently praised His faithfulness, knowing I could trust the God who was a promise-keeper.

As I ran the perimeter of the pond, my lungs were getting fatigued from swallowing deep gulps of freezing air. My heart raced and fear began to paralyze me. We had less than an hour before dark. The what-ifs stormed my mind.

What if we don’t find them before dark? What if I must tell the mother of our daughter’s friend that we lost her child? What if they were kidnapped? What if they drowned?

I chose not to let my mind park in fear-mode. The most crucial thing to do was speak to fear using the attributes again. I praised God once more for who He is.

With Thanksgiving, Present Your Request to God

“God, You are their Father. You’re capable of taking care of them better than an earthly mother or father. You are unleashing armies of angels to gather around them and guard their steps.”

As I walked to the front of my house, I witnessed my husband’s body language confirming from across the yard that he’d not yet found them. Wondering if they’d walked to the nearby park, I decided to hit the road and scour the neighborhood with my van. I returned home with no good news and did one last run through the house.

The children weren’t there. The time had come. I needed to call the police.

I ran out to the front yard with my phone in hand, while glancing down the hill. There, in the nearby cul-de-sac, were two beautiful girls. They were completely clueless about what had taken place. All I could physically do was fall to my knees and cry tears of thanksgiving. Pulling myself together, I ran over and embraced them. I cupped my daughter’s head in my hands, looking into her precious, confused eyes.

My daughter and her friend had wandered off to look at a large fallen tree deeper in the woods. It was a tree my husband had pointed out and let her climb during a previous hike together. From there, they had walked a few houses away into our neighborhood, but they’d been protected by our faithful Father the whole time.

Incomprehensible Peace Will Guard Your Heart and Mind

As I unpacked the events of the evening, God showed me how the weekly prayer time with my Moms in Prayer group had trained me to battle differently. I was honestly surprised that my prayers naturally echoed praise rather than fearful pleas for help.

My old prayer would have been, “God, give me back my daughter and her friend. Help me find them, in the name of Jesus!” This time was different. I battled from a place of victory and praise.

To be sure, I have endless stories where fear outshone my faith. God, however, is always faithful, and faith welled up within me from the deposits of time in prayer I’d made. As encouragement to you, fellow Moms in Prayer ladies, your weekly investment into prayer is building your faith, your trust, and your belief in a God that CAN do all things. Recognize today that your prayer muscles are getting stronger. As they strengthen, they will lift the fear so that faith can be your first response!

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Julie Graybill is a wife, mom, speaker, and blogger with a passion for making God famous! She’s in her sixth year with Moms in Prayer, and in her third year as a Moms in Prayer group leader for her daughters’ school in Dacula, Georgia. A pro-life activist working as a crisis pregnancy center patient advocate, Julie counsels women who are abortion-vulnerable or facing difficult diagnoses. She serves on the altar team for her church, Free Chapel, in Buford. Julie is the mother of two daughters and married 19 years to her college sweetheart, Nathan. Please visit her blog www.hungerforgreater.com to connect with Julie and to find inspiration to seek the GREATER things God has available for you.

Comments 3

  1. Julie is my daughter-in-law. This is a compelling story for me, especially since one of the girls is my granddaughter. When our children were young, I can remember a time or two of panic when several minutes seemed like hours. All I could see at the time was my need and utter dependence on God’s presence. I can’t even imagine the pain our Heavenly Father felt when his Only Begotten Son went to the cross.
    What I appreciate about Julie is she doesn’t know the meaning of passive faith. She works at her relationship with God. That is why her faith is there when she needs it.

  2. This is such a beautiful testimony to the power of motherhood, of trust in the God who sees us, and of the value of exercising our faith muscles each week at our Moms in Prayer group! I had a similar experience during a family crisis. I heard these words of praise in the air…and realized they were verbally coming out of my mouth. All these calming attributes that had built up inside over my time in Moms in Prayer came out as divine weapons when fear was trying to rule. Thank you, Julie, for this powerful testimony!

  3. As mothers we have all had instances where fear and concern for our children blocks out that God is in control. Julie has reminded us so eloquently what he desires our Prayers to be, Thank you Julie!

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