My husband, Greg, has often said, “Your loved ones may escape your preaching, but they can never escape your prayers.”
For a number of years, my devout mother prayed for my sisters and me. She often sat us down on her bed and tried her best to reach our hearts with words that, honestly, went in one ear and out the other. This proved to be a great test of her faith. Time after time, I mechanically nodded in outward agreement while staring blankly out the window, wishing it would end. I learned not to disagree or raise an objection, only because it would have prolonged the torture.
I was utterly disinterested in what she was saying.
Then one day, it dawned on me: my mother had quit her daily lectures. It was a relief; no more lengthy discussions at the dinner table or in her bedroom. “Whew!” I had escaped her incessant pleading!
I had escaped her pleading with me, but not her pleading with God. It was much later, after I had come to faith, that she revealed how she had determined to quit talking and instead to diligently pray that her daughters would be saved.
I share this with you today and pray it will serve as an encouragement to you moms who have children that seem disinterested, even hostile to your faith. I know it may look hopeless at times, and you may be tempted to doubt that your prayers are being heard. But we need to know that when we pray for that lost child, our prayers are according to the will of God. Keep seeking. Keep knocking. Keep asking!
I often think of St. Augustine’s mother, Monica. As a young man, Augustine cast off his once childlike faith, but he could never cast off her prayers and her stubborn love. They followed him from their small town to the big city of Carthage, where things in his life went from bad to worse. There, Augustine’s life would be marked by what he later admitted were his “wicked ways” and “carnal corruption.”
At 29, despite Monica’s incessant pleading with him not to go, Augustine determined to set sail for Rome. Her prayer was that God would somehow prevent her son from making the journey. Despite her specific prayer that Augustine not leave, he did, and she wept and wailed in sorrow. But though God didn’t answer that specific request, He had heard the main point of her prayers. And He was at work in ways she couldn’t see. In God’s perfect plan and timing, so different from her own, the place she feared would be her son’s undoing was the place he would finally surrender to God’s will.
So may I challenge you who are weary and about to give up, don’t! Though it may be a long wait, and it may seem like God is not at work, know that He is—in ways you can’t always see.
There is a heartfelt poem written by Ruth Graham for her once prodigal son, Franklin. I pray that it will inspire you to not lose heart when it comes to your children. I pray you will trust God for their salvation, their very lives, and for God’s timing, not your own. And remember, they may escape your preaching but they can never escape your prayers.
with my Jacob,” I would pray,
“wrestle till the break of Day”;
till he, knowing who Thou art,
tho’ asked, will not let Thee depart;
saying, “I’ll not let Thee free
saving Thou wilt first bless me;”
O God of Jacob, who knew how
to change supplanters then, so now
deal, I pray, with this my son,
though he may limp when Thou art
Ruth Bell Graham, from “Prodigals and Those Who Love Them”
Based on Genesis 32:24–31