My son, Jude Adoniram, is almost one month old. Erica and I have been overwhelmed with joy over the course of this month. There truly is nothing like being his father. I dream for him. I pray for him. I labor for him. Just having Erica and Jude in my life has led me to the Word to ignite my affections for God so that I might lead them in his joy.
I love to watch Erica be a mother. She was made for motherhood. It is one of the most natural things I have ever seen her do. To say that she loves Jude and would do anything for his good is a terrible understatement. She delights in Jude the way she delights in God. Oh, may he learn her passion for the ones she loves. She labors for him like a champion boxer. She absorbs blows in stride, but refuses to wave the white flag. And when she sings to him, oh, I just melt. Her new identity as mother should overwhelm her with stress. But through the stress of a radically changed lifestyle, she has shown that motherhood is greater than individualism. The cause of being a mom is far greater than any individual goal she could accomplish.
Seeing her selflessness causes me to see the face of Christ when I look at her. When she nurses, changes diapers, and loses countless hours of sleep for the sake of our little one, I see the cross. Not just suffering, but selfless sacrifice for the joy of others. And my wife who is now a mother delights in this sacrifice. She finds joy in putting Jude before herself. Are there frustrations? Absolutely. But through the sighs and the cries, this new mother shines with patience and love.
Of all the things that I have enjoyed since Jude’s birth, there is one I have enjoyed the most. I love to see Erica praying over Jude. When he is sleeping, his mother is praying. When he is eating, his mother is praying. When he is playing, his mother is praying. When he is crying, well, we are all praying! This young mother is persistent in her praying.
Is there anything greater than a praying mother? In a passage I have studied all week, we see an example of a persistent praying mother. Jesus enters the region of Tyre and Sidon and is approached by a Gentile (Syrophoenician) woman (Mark 7:24). This woman falls at the feet of Jesus and begs him to exorcise a demon from his daughter (vv. 25-26). Jesus then seems to shut her down by essentially saying that he has come first to the Jews, not the Gentiles. Well, this praying mother is not satisfied to stop now. The persistent praying mother is unstoppable. As Tim Keller says, “There are cowards, there are regular people, there are heroes, and then there are parents. Parents are not really on the spectrum from cowardice to courage because if your child is in jeopardy, you simply do what it takes to save her” (King’s Cross).
It isn’t so much courage that marks her response as it is motherhood. She basically tells Jesus, “Yes, I know the kingdom is for the Jews, but I also know it and you are so great that there is enough in the crumbs of the kingdom for someone like me to enjoy forever.” It is through the mother’s faith, through the mother’s prayer that her child is healed. The praying mother allows nothing and no one to get in her way. Theologian J.C. Ryle reflected on this mother’s faith when he wrote:
The woman who came to our Lord, in the history now before us, must doubtless have been in deep affliction. She saw a beloved child possessed by an unclean spirit. She saw her in a condition in which no teaching could reach the mind, and no medicine could heal the body — a condition only one degree better than death itself. She hears of Jesus, and beseeches him to “cast forth the devil out of her daughter.” She prays for one who could not pray for herself, and never rests till her prayer is granted.
By prayer she obtains the cure which no human means could obtain. Through the prayer of the mother, the daughter is healed. On her own behalf that daughter did not speak a word; but her mother spoke for her to the Lord, and did not speak in vain. Hopeless and desperate as her case appeared, she had a praying mother, and where there is a praying mother there is always hope (Expository Thoughts on Mark).
There is always hope when there is a praying mother. There is tremendous power in a praying mother. Whatever God will do with Jude, I know that all his future acts of faith in Christ will be partly due to the prayers of his loving, selfless, beautiful, and brave mother. Beloved mothers, please don’t stop praying for your children. Through your prayers, they will find healing in Christ.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church East Bernstadt. He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.