I’m Louise Yeghnazar and as a mum of 4 children I have learned that in our family there are always PLENTY of reasons to pray!
For example, 5 years ago we moved back from a 10 year stint in the USA. It was a huge move. All 4 of our children had to adjust to a new education system. 2 went into secondary education. 2 went into primary. The excitement of the new adventure soon wore off and reality kicked in. I could never have predicted quite how tough the adjustment would be or how long it would take. Everything from grades, to friendships and identity were affected by the transition.
As a mum, I felt I was on a daily emotional rollercoaster. I spent a great deal of time going about my day low-grade worrying about my children and sending up SOS prayers for my kids as I got on with all the other activities of life.
I was so concerned about how my kids were doing, I realised that my whole life was being consumed by this anxiety. It took its toll not just on my emotions but it came out physically too. Somewhere along the way, I was reminded to take a more active control of my thoughts. The bible calls it taking your thoughts captive, (2 Corinthians 10:5).
During that season, I picked up from others a few small, practical prayer habits that could be easily incorporated into my day and were real weapons against worry.
One habit I developed was to carry an index card around with me for a period of time, maybe a day, maybe a week, with one or two statements written on it. It most often was a verse that had jumped out from a sermon or from a moment of reading my bible. Sometimes it was lyrics from a worship song and occasionally a phrase from a podcast I had listened to whilst making dinner. I would then glance at it and think about that verse/phrase as I drove around or waited to pick up a child from an activity. I often personalised a verse to become a declaration of faith or a reminder of a promise for one of my children when I was tempted to live in a place of fear and discouragement. I would literally insert their name into the verse which would immediately make it feel even more personal.
At other times I would write single words on a small chalkboard in my kitchen, like ‘peace’ or ‘joy’. These words were visual cues which prompted me to choose peace, joy, to surrender or love that day.
I found that praying on the go in my car, or whilst I was prepping dinner was, at least for this season of raising kids, a more realistic goal than carving out long quiet times. Praying in tongues when I had no idea which words to pray was also a great comfort. Sometimes I would find myself being filled with an increasing sense of power or joy as I prayed in tongues, knowing that the Lord was indeed praying on my behalf.
There have been times when praying the words of others has been a real inspiration to me. I have found the book: ‘The power of a praying parent’ by Stormie Omartian to have been an invaluable resource during all the various ages and stages of my children’s lives. I have even been known to copy out scriptures, prayers and promises from this book onto post-it notes and stick them to a child’s bedroom door or tuck it in their lunchbox. One of my children kept one such verse in their school blazer for an entire year. Another kept Psalm 4:8 posted next to her bed during a season where she battled with fear of the dark: “I will lie down and sleep, for you alone o Lord make me dwell in safety.” She learned to whisper that verse when her fears were crowding in on her until she did indeed experience a breakthrough.
Nothing has been more helpful to me than praying the Psalms during the different seasons of my family life. The honesty, worship, vulnerability and faith displayed in the prayers of the Psalmists are a model for me as a mum of how to pray for myself and my family. Whatever I am going through, I am inspired to talk real and honestly. Whether it’s about bullies, exams, eating disorders or my own fatigue, it makes no difference, the Psalms inspire me that God can handle my emotions and loves me with an everlasting love. The Psalms also lead me to choose worship in the middle of the mess. In the words of that great song, “My worship is my weapon…”
It has been 5 years since we moved and for sure it has not always been plain sailing. Having said that, I can see how these circumstances have driven me deeper in my prayer journey and more importantly in my relationship with Jesus.
I always thought my prayer life for my children would look like a prayer journal filled with heartfelt prayers that I could one day hand over to my children as a neatly bound legacy. Today, I realise that praying for my children has been a much messier affair, deeply entwined in the ordinary, normal activities and adventures of life.
I am still convinced I AM leaving a legacy, but perhaps not so much written on paper as etched in my heart and mind – I hope!