“Are these your children?” she asked. Our husbands shook hands quickly in those brief moments before the sermon began.
“Yes, ma’am,” I replied with a smile, “and our oldest daughter is in Virginia.”
Clasping my hand, she continued, “You have a beautiful family! I want you to know I just prayed over your children during the dedication time this morning!”
The pastor took the stage and we took our seats as the service resumed.
Our exchange lasted maybe twenty seconds. She was a middle-aged woman, probably in her late fifties or early sixties, average in height and appearance. Her neatly arranged graying hair perfectly framed her kind eyes and bright smile. I don’t remember what she was wearing; I didn’t even catch her name.
But, y’all, that brief interaction has stayed with me all week.
You see, that dear lady doesn’t know me or my family. She had no reason to pray for complete strangers. Yet, I imagine she has grown children of her own, and when she saw this fine-looking mama (okay, who am I kidding—this exhausted, disheveled, soul-weary mom) with three teenagers sit down in front of her, she remembered.
She remembered what these years are like: late nights, busy schedules, power struggles, and lots of choosing our battles carefully. She remembered how hard it is to parent well through the eye rolls and mood swings and broken hearts. And I’m guessing she remembered what it’s like to wonder if you’re doing any of this parenting thing right or if you’re totally messing them up for life.
And then, I imagine she remembered where she eventually landed during those years— at the feet of Jesus, seeking wisdom and guidance and power from the One who loves our teens more than we do and knows what they need most.
So she prayed over these beautiful half-grown children of ours. She prayed that they would love Jesus more than the things of this world. That they would have a hunger for His Word and let it guide their values and decisions. That they would grow up to be men and women who love God with their whole hearts and serve Him with their whole lives.
How do I know that’s what she prayed? Because it’s what I would have prayed.
A mom knows.
In praying over our teenagers, she blessed me in a way I can’t explain with words. This past year has been an interesting parenting season for me and Jeff, one that has required every ounce of emotional and spiritual energy we have to give (and then some). We are learning what it means to surrender our children to the Lord on a whole new level, much like Abraham did with Isaac. And in seasons like this, you learn quickly that no matter how much experience you have with parenting teens, you will never have enough wisdom, strength, or patience to manage it on your own.
We need Jesus. And we need prayer.
A few minutes after my encounter with this prayer warrior, Eli leaned over and whispered, “Hey Mom, I just got prayed over!” He smirked a little and laughed, in that way fourteen year old boys do when someone does something they think is ridiculous or totally embarrassing.
I wonder if he noticed my eyes filling up with tears as I bumped his shoulder and patted his arm. While it’s funny to him now, I wonder if one day he will look back and recognize the fruit in his life that was born out of a stranger’s prayer one Sunday morning. And I wonder if, years from now, when God lays it on his heart to pray for the teenagers sitting in front of him, he will remember this woman’s faithfulness and respond with obedience, just as she did, continuing the circle of influence.
Friend, I don’t know what step of obedience God is calling you to this week, but I can promise you that whatever it is, it’s worth it. It may seem insignificant and awkward (like praying for a complete stranger), or it may be costly and heart-wrenching. Either way, you can be confident that when you act in obedience, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6, NIV). Whether it’s simple or difficult, seemingly impossible or a little embarrassing, our God is faithful and it will not be for nothing. He will take what we offer Him and multiply its effects far beyond our wildest imagination.
As Elisabeth Elliot points out, “How many momentous events in Scripture depended on one person’s seemingly small act of obedience! Rest assured: Do what God tells you to do now, and, depend upon it, you will be shown what to do next.”
I am so grateful for that dear woman’s prayers over my children and believe that God will use them in mighty ways. I am believing the same for the things God is asking of me this week. And I am believing it for you as well.
May we all be faithful and obedient in that which the Lord calls us, trusting Him with the results.