Mom, will you pray?
Here we are in the thick of the morning rush, my foot pump, pump, pumping the break, and she asks, “Mom, what are your plans for today?” We move along the roadway like a pebble in a clogged stream, jerking irregularly, moving one moment and then suddenly not. It feels as though I have to yank my consciousness up out of the muddy water to attend to the question, and I realize that my whole day feels much like driving through this stop-and-go traffic. She asks, and I trace the knot of it in my mind, lightly sketching out the twists and turns, the jutting delays, as I answer her. I skip over some things as I go, intending only to create an outline to satsify her curiousity.
I rest one hand against my leg, fingering the edge of my running shorts. I am sticky, damp with sweat, having only just squeezed in some exercise before carpool.
“Well, I will need to get clean,” I tell her, smiling without looking away from the road. “And then I have work to do, in the office, around the house. And then, I’ll see you.”
I feel her smiling at me, those bright blue eyes resting over my cheekbones, the sharp curve of my nose.
“But Mom, will you pray?”
Her voice sounds layered with significance, with the ready understanding that of all the ground I’ll cover today, that one question illuminates the most important and hallowed spaces I’ll inhabit.
“Yes. Absolutely. Of course.”
“Oh, good,” she says, and the words soften with relief. Relief. Yes, that’s definitely what I hear.
Of all the details I fail to mention, this is the one she depends on. She doesn’t ask me if I’ll wash clothes or make dinner. Mom, will you pray? These days I know there’s no more important place for a mother than on her knees.There's no more important place for a mother than on her knees. Click To Tweet
We come to a stop at a stoplight and I look over at her. The sun shines through the window on her side so bold and bright that light seems to come out of her ears, her eyes, her cheeks her hair.
“You know, these days it isn’t usually a question of whether I will pray but for how long,” I tell her, explaining that lately the temptation seems to be more about limiting my time in prayer—an insidious, slithering reminder of how much else there is to do, as though the accomplishment could ever come from any other source. My enemy suggests that if I just keep it quick, I will have so much more time left over for my work, as though a conversation with an eternal God ever comes to an end, or ever can be limited by time; as though anything else could come close to being so important.
But she hears “quit” instead of “quick,” and she gasps. It’s as though that word is the only one, and it slices into her.
“Oh, you can’t quit,” she says, and her voice is all desperation. She looks at me full on, and it’s as though I have threatened to leave her abandoned and vulnerable.
Never before this day have I known how she depends on my prayers; how much those conversations, that relationship I have come to know as most critical, most powerful, most effective in life and breath and mothering have come to mean to her too.
“Oh, I didn’t say quit. I’m not going to quit praying. I promise,” I tell her, focusing on the roadway as we begin, slowly, to inch forward past the stoplight. “I said quick. My enemy wants me to keep it quick.”
“Oh.” Again the softness of relief, the smile I can feel, even when I’m not looking. “Okay good. But Mom?”
You should take your time.