As we conclude this series on prayer, we come to what I think is the most transformative habit a mother can create. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing,” and we know he could not have been referring to contemplative prayer, for even the cloistered must work. As mothers, our work is never done, our days are not predictable, and finding quiet time is often impossible. Yet God is always with us, and we can be in constant conversation with him.
I highly recommend the book Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. It is a series of recorded conversations with Br Lawrence, as well as his letters expressing his habit of “walking always in the presence of God.” By acknowledging the presence of God, ever in our midst, and including him in our daily tasks, we are, in fact, praying without ceasing.
Brother Lawrence said, “It is a great delusion to imagine that set times of prayer should be any different from other times.” We always have the opportunity to commune with the Most High God! He is always with us, and we can include him in all of our daily tasks. Once we release ourselves from the idea that “prayer time” must look a certain way, we will find that we can always be praying. We already talked about our work being a prayer, and that can include conversing with God as we work. As we fold our children’s clothes, we can ask the Lord to bless that child. As we prepare dinner, we can thank the Lord for his provision of our food and pray for those who are hungry.
One of my favorite ways to remain aware of the presence of God in my midst is to listen to worship music throughout the day. For others it may be classical music or Gregorian chant, but music has a way of reminding us of the sacred, of helping us to pause and to remember that God is with us, and that we are instructed to praise him. It gives us the words to offer our loving God, who is always with us. Over and over again in Scripture we see all of creation lives to praise the Lord, and hundreds of times we are instructed to stop and praise the Lord. If we remain silent, Luke reminds us, the stones will cry out (Lk 19:40). In Isaiah 55:12, it says, For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. When we praise the Lord simply for who he is, our perspective changes, our suffering is lightened, and the burdens of our hearts let go. We are not made for this world. We are raising our children to be with Christ in eternity, and everything else pales in comparison. Christ urges us not to worry, for even the sparrow has a place to lay its head, and yet he knows we are human and we will worry, which is why he tells us to cast all our cares upon him. When we stop to worship God for who he is, for all he has done, for all he has given, we are casting our cares away and leaving them at the foot of the cross.
This vocation provides us endless opportunities of refinement, and all of us battle feelings of inadequacy; we all wonder if we are doing enough. Our prayer lives will look different throughout all the varying seasons of motherhood, but God is immutable in his great love for us and his great love for this vocation. Whether we are in a season of babies―in us, on us and all around us―or toddlers and their constant motion and need, or teenagers and their budding consciences and questions, or adult children making choices and starting their own lives, we are called to pray without ceasing, and God is always there to greet us with his comforting presence and his unchanging love.