*This post was originally published in August 2008. I’m digging up posts from the archives in order to enjoy my husband’s time off and catch some extra Zzzzzs.
My girls had been up before dawn. There had been no time to sit quietly and pray before my preschooler announced, “I’m hungry.”
After I fixed a quick breakfast, I sat down with a cup of coffee and attempted to pray while the kids ate.
“Mommy, I think Baby Rae’s finished,” said Madeline.
I looked up from my prayer book to see the baby chucking pieces of her bagel and quartered grapes onto the floor.
I took her out of the highchair and handed her a few toys.
“I’m tired of sitting.”
“Well then just get up.”
“But you need to wash my hands.” (I obliged. This was a rule of my making, after all.)
I sat down once again, resumed my praying for a whopping 20 seconds until the baby started fussing, tugging at my PJ bottoms.
“Would you just let me pray?”
My baby didn’t like my tone. She burst into tears and burrowed her wet face into my legs. Frankly, I doubt the very one I was attempting to pray to was “well-pleased” with my reaction either.
As a mom of young children, I don’t have much time anymore for long (or even short), uninterrupted stretches of contemplative prayer, but perhaps that shouldn’t be my goal right now. Maybe the best prayer that morning would have been to scoop up that baby into my arms, to talk to my preschooler while she nibbled on her peanut butter bagel, and to “pray” with my giving instead of with my words and thought.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve found that sometimes the most powerful prayer isn’t a conversation at all. It’s an expression of love; it’s that tug on my heart when I find myself overwhelmed with gratitude hearing my children giggle; it’s me setting aside my own wants and needs and laying down my life for my children.