Mothers have often felt powerless to see good outcomes in their wayward children. History and the Bible attest to the effect of a woman’s prayers and the actions of a praying mum. Those who follow my daily Church History posts will recognise two mothers in particular who saw their prayers answered for their wayward sons.
Augustine Had a Praying Mother
The famous Christian leader and preacher from the fourth century, Aurelius Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, did not start his life as a godly man. In fact he was immoral and a shame to his mother.
This caused great distress to his mother, Monica, even though she had great impact on his younger life. She was a godly woman who did not want her son consumed by sin, but hoped for him to serve God. Monica, however, had seen a vision, which she told to her son. She saw that one day he would become a Christian in answer to her prayers. The great Augustine that we remember was in fact the son of his mother’s prayers.
Despite Monica’s vision and her attempts to teach her son godly living, young Augustine pursued those things that appealed to his human mind. He dabbled in theatre, philosophy, rhetoric and heresy. Like many people today, he expected to find the ultimate truth from his personal explorations.
Because Augustine’s notion of life was that people must find their own truth he also felt free to find his own morality. He had multiple mistresses. In fact he was so given to immorality he was later in awe of simple Christians who could resist the temptations which dominated him.
Now consider a son in such a state. His philosophy of life, intellectual pursuits and immoral lifestyle made him seem unreachable. Onlookers could have considered him a lost cause and a hopeless case.
But his mother did not stop praying for him. She had the assurance that came through her earlier vision, and she had God’s Word to assure her.
Praying Women in the Bible
Jesus gave a parable about a widow woman who deserved justice. Because she was of no social consequence an unjust judge dismissed her case. She was undeterred, but came back repeatedly to cry out for justice. In the end the unjust judge gave in to her demands and gave her justice, only to stop her pestering him.
Jesus used that woman’s situation to show that persistent prayer will be heard by God, who is much more willing to help than that unjust judge was.
“And he spake a parable to them to show that men should always pray and not give up; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And will not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, though he bear long with them?” Luke 18:1-7
Powerful Powerless Prayers
Even though a woman may feel powerless and unable to demand obedience from her son or justice from her society, yet she can pray powerful prayers which God will answer. This makes the powerless woman into a powerful woman of God.
That’s what happened for Monica, as she prayed for Augustine. She not only prayed herself, but she enlisted the prayers of others, tearfully determined to see her son saved.
One person Monica asked to pray with her was a bishop who comforted her with confidence in her prayers. The bishop said to her: “Leave him there, and only pray to God for him; he will discover by reading what is his error, and how great his impiety. …. Go, live so; it cannot be that the son of those tears will perish.”
While Monica was praying for her son, Augustine came under the powerful preaching of godly Ambrose in Milan. After Augustine was converted he said of Ambrose, “I was led to him unknowingly by God, that I might knowingly be led to God by him”.
Jacob DeShazer’s Mum
Jacob DeShazer was an American airman in World War II who was shot down returning from a bombing raid over Japan. He had not come to faith in God, but his mother prayed for his soul.
On the very night that Jacob leaped from his plane to parachute into enemy territory his mother woke from her sleep with the sense of falling. She did not realise that her experience had a connection with her son, but she prayed. And she continued praying for her boy, as she had done before.
DeShazer ended up in solitary confinement in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. While others were shot, his life was spared. And eventually he turned his heart to God and asked for a Bible. Once he received it he devoured God’s Word, reading it through multiple times and cross-referencing events to see that the Old Testament prophecies of Jesus were truly fulfilled in his life.
DeShazer came to faith and later returned to Japan as a very effective missionary.
God Answers the Prayers of a Mother
Mums, you may feel that you are powerless as your children head off to lives which you want to save them from. But you are not powerless. God listens to your prayers. God will hear and answer, as you press in and claim the lives of your sons and daughters.
I encourage you to do what Augustine’s mother did. And do what DeShazer’s mother did. Cry out to God for the soul of your child and confidently expect God to answer. He will.