I cried to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. When my soul fainted within me, I remembered the Lord; And my prayer went up to you, into Your holy temple. Jonah 2: 2, 7 (NKJV)
I don’t know about you, but I often find that when people share testimonies of the great things God has done, we rejoice with them, but then it can be easy to turn away and think, “But what about me, Lord? I am still in the belly of the whale!” Parenting, it seems to me, is a life-long commitment. Heartache and dashed hopes can seem to last forever as we wait on the Lord’s answers that so often do not come within our own chosen time frame. While pondering this, it occurred to me that Jonah didn’t wait until he landed on the shore to praise God, but praised Him from the belly of the whale. So, for those mums out there who, like me, might still be in the whale, I share some praise because I know that God is with me and one day, because of His faithfulness, I shall yet see dry land. I also want to encourage you that part of the reason I KNOW He cares about my children so much, is the way He brought Mums in Prayer into my life.
My husband and I met on the mission field in Northern Asia and on our wedding day, just after we said our vows and turned to walk down the aisle, someone leapt in front of us and said, “When your son is born, you shall call him…” Well! Not an everyday occurrence methinks! The name is one I shall keep secret for my son’s sake, but let’s just say it spoke of the humble, godly character and missionary zeal we could anticipate in him. In due course, the Lord told me when he was to be born and, when I was still carrying him, I was given the same prophetic word whilst on two different continents, “This one will be greatly used of the Lord.” He did make a commitment to the Lord when he was young, but it took me years to realise that the reason the Lord gave me these words was not because the fulfillment would be manifest from an early age, but because at times it would seem impossible to even imagine that this could come true.
About 15 years ago, when the boys were very small, I came across a flyer about Mums in Prayer. At the same time, there was a woman at church who had just joined our congregation and even though I didn’t know her, the Lord pointed her out to me. I introduced myself to her and it turned out she was a mother of six children, including a set of triplets, two of whom had special needs! We became friends and I spoke to her about starting a Mums in Prayer group. She wanted to, but due to so many things going on in her life at the time, sadly, the matter was dropped.
The years passed and both of my sons (we had a second one, whom the Lord named after a wonderful prophet) were attending church with us and professing their own faith. Then came the hormones. Sound familiar? In our oldest son in particular, teenage rebellion was prevalent until finally one Sunday morning those heart-crushing words rang in my ears, “I’m not going to church, mum. I’m not a Christian anymore.” What followed was a period in which our darling boy began experimenting with drugs and alcohol, slowly dropped out of school and progressed into a cycle of anxiety and depression that culminated in a complete breakdown with him being set back not one, but two years in his education.
In November of 2014, to my complete surprise, I received a letter from our local Mums in Prayer area coordinator, inviting me to a prayer breakfast. I’ll be absolutely honest; my first thought was, “I haven’t got time for that!” I finally picked up the phone to politely decline and within seconds of speaking to this lovely lady, I was in a flood of tears, pouring out my heart about my son. By Christmas, I began to see the first signs of answered prayer as I discovered YouTube videos about Christian topics on his laptop. Previously, the Lord impressed upon me from Joshua 6:10 to not let “one word proceed from my mouth” until the day the Lord said so; I had to take my hands off, keep quiet, and let God do it. However, there have been moments of grace where our son has begun to ask questions, and I even found myself sitting up with him one night until 1 o’clock in the morning, as we discussed end times, God and faith.
Having attended the Mums in Prayer group for about a year, I began to sense it was time to set up our own more local group. I contacted my friend (the mother of six I mentioned earlier) and reminded her of Mums in Prayer. For some time, we were not at the same church and busy working mums, so trying to “get together for a coffee “without success. Now we found that, because of the focused hour of prayer, we were able to meet and pray every week. Also, the Lord brought other mums and we were now a group of five. The blessing of sitting with other mums, sharing tears, pain and burdens, but also hope, encouragement and love, is priceless. It is also a great an honour and privilege to show other women the hope that is found in seeking the Lord together, who are also desperate to see the power of God’s intervention in their own child’s life through prayer.
As for our son, he is now twenty and having been told he was in the top quartile, with every expectation of academic success, he has just dropped out of education altogether for the moment. He is also not yet walking with the Lord as I should like, and the vision that we were given so many years ago still seems to tarry… and tarry. I may not see it fulfilled while he still lives with us. Having hit this new low, where he seemed to give up all hope of a fulfilling future, a “chance remark” at our Mums in Prayer group the preceding week led us to an agency (run by a Christian!) which offers sheltered housing to young people who are struggling and supports them into employment, apprenticeships or education and toward independence. This looks to be the next step that the Lord has for him.
He is an unfinished work and I will have to let him go, but I have peace of mind that the Lord has His hand on him and though the vision tarries, it will surely come. I also have the comfort of my Mums in Prayer group to help pray it in. Just this week, he has been ill. Lying in bed with his face to the wall, for the first time in so many years he asked me, “Mum, please will you pray for me?” Oh yes, my darling. And I will never stop!
—A British praying mum