An unexpected gift of motherhood: experiencing the power of prayer. Back during the epic sleep regression that Amelia went through around three months old, I frantically read and instituted probably every piece of sleep advice known in the modern world. One of the biggest changes that took place was putting her to bed earlier, and creating a solid bedtime routine. (For the record, I don't think any of these things I changed really made a difference. It was her age. But it still brought about some really great changes to our old hat routines!)
We decided on what probably most families do with their little ones before bed (and after dinner): bath, pajamas, stories, prayer, cuddles. It, in combination with everything else, worked like a charm and suddenly her glorious pre-3 month eight hour stretches turned into eleven hour stretches. And all was calm once again in the Hartline home.
Fast forward a few weeks and it was time (really, past time) to get her on a better nap routine. I'm giving wayyy too much back story here about her sleep schedules and whatnot, but long story short I chopped off the bath and pajamas part of her bedtime routine and used the rest to get her ready for a nap. We still do it today.
Our prayers at bed time and at nap time with Amelia started with things like, "Thank you for Daddy, and Gracie, and Melly and Punkum and Gram and Pops. Please help settle Amelia's mind and body so she can have a good night's rest and enjoy her day tomorrow." etc. But then I found out about a sweet little girl at church who was diagnosed with cancer, and then our friend who was having a hard time getting pregnant, and our prayers started to take a different shape.
Particularly at nap time, since it's just me, Amelia and I will go down our list of those that are on our prayer list, for various reasons. Some who need jobs, some who are sick, some who are about to have babies... They are simple prayers, and sometimes I feel silly because I pray as if Amelia can understand (which she can't), but I'm praying for things that really matter. "Please heal Jonathan, because we know you can, God, and we don't want our friends to be sick."
I pray honest prayers for myself on days when I really need help. "Please give me strength and energy today, God, because it's hard being a Mommy sometimes."
Today at nap time we got to praise Him for answering one of our prayers - and I was overcome with the realization that these prayers are real. They aren't just a part of our routine, like I treat them sometimes. We are speaking to a holy, living God who is listening to these tiny, simple prayers. And He is answering!
So even on the days when I forget to pray myself, I have prayer built into my schedule - whether I like it or not - and it has been so powerful. I knew that motherhood would teach me things, but this is just another example of an unexpected way that He is slowly shaping me and guiding me and it has been soul-reviving.
So if you mention something to me and I tell you I'll pray about it for you, know that I will. And if I tell you I'll add it to our nap time prayers, please know that those really happen. And they are heard. And I can't wait to see what else He does that we get to praise Him for next.