Romans 12:12 - Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (ESV)
As a young mom, this has been one of my favorite Bible verses. I love it because it is so short that it’s easy to keep memorized even when I’m exhausted and can’t remember what my kids had for breakfast when it's time to make lunch. I also love it because it contains such wise commands for everyone, but they seem to be especially particular to what I so often struggle with as a mom.
Throughout the book of Romans, Paul is so clear about the gospel - walking through our extreme sinfulness and our need for a Savior and then about the work that Christ has already accomplished for us. He then follows that up by giving us some very real ways we should be responding to these things.
This verse tells us not to just pray over a very long list of things for our kids but it’s telling us to be constant in prayer.
That means we are re-orienting the way that we get through our days.
When it’s hard and you feel like giving up, you have to pray.
When you realize you lost it and yelled at your kids and sinned against them, you go back to prayer (and also ask your kids for forgiveness). But it’s that going back to God that is important.
This is one of those things that in the moment is so hard for us to remember.
I feel like for the past five or so years, I've always felt like I’m just about to fall off of the treadmill of life.
If I stop to clean one room, at least two others are destroyed.
On any given Tuesday, I may experience a kid waking up too early for their own good, an exploded diaper, someone dumping out the entire contents of my purse, extreme hunger met with “maybe not” when I’ve prepared some healthy option, and multiple opportunities to be a referee.
Sometimes, if we are being honest, it can feel like the day is simply a marathon race to get to bedtime.
As we think through what makes a day "good" instead of slumping into bed with an overwhelming sense of failure, I think it most often boils down to the good days being the ones when we are practicing that Romans 12:12 “constant prayer”.
That means we are seeking God. That seems so abstract and can quickly fall into Christian jargon - but what it looks like is consistently asking Him to help our unbelief and to trust Him. And also in a very real way, to be constantly seeing and responding to those around us with the love and grace that we have received.
Obviously, a whole day is a long time. That's a very tall order, especially when life seems to be going by faster than we can keep up with.
We all know we’re going to mess up. I’m not here to say that you can even have one day where you are in perfect constant prayer if you just try hard enough. We have to remember that our sanctification is a life long work of God in us, separate from our justification. We should not let this truth lead us to despair, instead we should recognize that when we’re striving to glorify God in all we do and have eyes to see our kids with God’s grace, it makes for a sweeter day.
In the stress of motherhood, whether you are dealing with needy newborns, tantrum throwing toddlers, strong-willed elementary-age kids, or the obvious drama and complicated issues of teenagers, give yourself grace mamas!
Give yourself grace as you don’t get other things done. It doesn’t matter if you made dinner at the end of the day if everyone is in a bad mood because of how you acted making sure the table was set. It doesn’t matter if your bed is made and your house is cleaned if your heart is a disaster of bitterness.
When you can step back, exhausted and overwhelmed, you can look to Jesus who did everything perfectly. God is not looking at you in your jammies and kind of mumbling about what a hot mess you are. He looks at you and sees his justified daughter who he loves, really loves. And when we can remind ourselves of that, it’s easier to turn to him in the constant prayer, knowing that he deeply cares for us and wants to hear from us.
I think when we are striving for this type of constant prayer, it makes it so much easier to do the other things Paul tells us to do too - to rejoice in hope and be patient in tribulation. We have the amazing gift of being hopeful people regardless of what is happening around us because we know that soon Jesus will make all things right. We are called to be patient because we don’t know when that will happen. But we do know that this is the Word of God telling us to rejoice in hope, have joy in our days, to be patient regardless of what happens, and to be constantly in prayer.
God loves you even (and especially) when you feel like a hot mess, because you’re completely forgiven and accepted. And because of this, you’re someone who can take the next moment - even the very loud or very hard ones - to be in constant prayer.