Little boys, with their boundless energy and penchant for seeking out any opportunity to get muddy, can certainly try their mothers’ patience. But instead of getting frustrated with the habits that tend to drive us up the wall, Michele Morin shows us how we can turn those moments around and use them as inspiration to pray for our sons.
Here are three prayers for her sons she’s learned to pray during her family’s ‘mud seasons.’
Busy with the baby, it took me a few minutes to respond to the small voices at my door. One glance out the window revealed two big smiles with little else visible through the coating of mud that covered my sons’ faces.
From the visors on their ball caps to the soles of their muck boots, they were covered in wet, slimy mud.
“We rolled in a puddle!” they chorused together in the same tone they might have used to announce they’d won a Nobel Prize.
Completely at a loss for how to clean up this comprehensive new mess, I burst into tears. Though I’ve since developed a slick method for cleaning up a mud mess, I remember wondering on that cold March day if it would be considered child abuse to hose them down!
Maybe mud season in your home has nothing to do with the weather. Is there some aspect of your mothering life that feels like too much, a season or a responsibility that leaves you feeling stuck or even out of control?
Since the Lord in His infinite wisdom has ordained that, here in Mid-Coast Maine, snow and cold should always be followed immediately by rain and warm temperatures, I have had plenty of opportunities to make peace with mud season.
One reason for that transformation is the arrow prayers that have ascended to God from this desperate boy-mom’s heart in the midst of one more muddy mess when, sadly, I had run out of patience long before I had run out of day.
As I grew in my mothering and in my relationship with God, I noticed those arrow prayers began to sound less like imprecatory psalms and more like invitations for God to do His deep work in my prone-to-wander heart.
Maybe the real problem of mud season is less about my sons’ behavior and more about my response?
I have since discovered that MUD is a handy acronym for the real clean up job I began to submit to as I regularly prayed these three prayers for my sons:
Jesus drew a direct line between godliness and mercy, and, as I continually draw on God’s endless supply of mercy for the many ways in which I fail, I pray that my children (and my grandchildren) will have a theological “aha” moment whenever they receive mercy from me.
Fresh mercy every single day keeps my heart tethered to His, and so I pray: “May my children always be merciful just as their Father in Heaven is merciful. Empower me to put Your mercy on display—even in mud season.”
Little people have little problems. It’s embarrassing to me now to look back on the level of angst I attached to a couple of mud-soaked sweatshirts, because I know how much grief my husband and I have been spared as parents of children whose hearts have remained faithful to God, unstained by promiscuity, unfettered by addiction.
Scrubbing the dirty knees of hand-me-down jeans or pouring boiling water over hopelessly stained T-shirts provides the perfect heart connection to James’ definition of true cleanliness:
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is… to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27).
And so I pray: “Lord, these jeans have seen better days and this T-shirt is one step away from a dust rag, and yet my boy’s heart belongs to You. Keep him pure and unstained for Your glory and for his good.”
DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL
As a young mom, I needed to learn the difference between mischief and evil, and then to respond appropriately to each. (There’s a reason why C.S. Lewis did not address laundry challenges in “The Problem of Pain”).
The moments spent cleaning up a muddy mess may be a good time to thank God for all the ways in which He keeps our boys safe, protects them from evil influences, or helps us as moms to be a force for good (and not evil!) in their lives.
At the end of his life, the Apostle Paul was still reminding himself that God could and would deliver him from evil, and Jesus’ model prayer in the Sermon on the Mount includes a specific request that God would “deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
My sons are no longer boys, and two of them are now raising boys of their own, but my prayers for them continue: “Lord, shield my sons from the evil in the world and the evil in their own hearts. Show me how I can be a force for good for the rest of my mothering days.”
Whatever time in your family’s life feels like mud season to you, don’t let yourself get stuck! Turn your frustration and anxiety into arrow prayers, and remind your heart that there is no mess too big for God to clean up, both in our lives—and in the lives of our sons.
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