As a mum to an energetic 9 month old, it can often seem like there is little time in the day to do anything that is not related to looking after my son, tidying and cleaning the house and just generally trying to stay sane! We all know that there are different "seasons" that we go through in live, especially as Christians. There are seasons when all our spare time is used in ministries and in serving the church family, and there are also seasons when circumstances force us to stop and take a step back. Being a new mum is definitely one of those seasons that forces you to take a step back!
Lets be honest - it is hard to be on a welcome team whilst breast feeding. It is dangerous and almost impossible to serve hot liquids on refreshments with a small baby or toddler around! And can you ever imagine trying to lead worship with a sleeping baby in a sling?! It can be so frustrating that once you become a mum you have to say goodbye to all the amazing ways you served the church, fellow christians and community (at least for a little while) and it can feel like you have nothing to offer.
Well that is a lie and refuse to believe it! As a new mum you are such a powerful weapon for the church. Time may feel very short, but in fact this is a period of our lives when we have a lot of what I like to call "dead" time. Especially in the first few months of being a new mum, a lot of time is spent feeding your baby, with them asleep on you and trying to get them back to sleep in the middle of the night. Although this is time that you can't spend out at church serving in practical ways, there is an amazingly powerful way that you can serve during those "dead" time blocks.
You can become a "prayer warrior" (it sounds important, because it is.....). When I was up in the small hours of the night sitting and feeding Sam or pumping for his next feed, I did one of three things:
- Spent time in awe of my little baby and how amazing he was. As everyone says, they are only small once and they quickly grow up, so there were times when all I wanted to do was gaze into Sam's little eyes as he fed and wonder at how I had been trusted with such an amazing gift. Unfortunately this was not always my mood after being woken up for the fourth/fifth/sixth time that night!!!
- Played on my phone...... Shamefully I must admit that many of these precious hours were spent on my phone reading facebook updates (why do so few people update their facebook status at 2am - it is just rude to those of us who are awake!) or playing games. It was mindless and it kept me awake when I needed to be, but it wasn't productive.
- Prayed. An amazing friend of mine gave me a book just before Sam was born called "Praying for your baby", and although I only got a few pages in, it reminded me that I have been given another special gift in all that "dead" time. I could use it to pray and petition God about anything and everything. So I would pray during feedings, I would pray during nap times, I would pray as I rocked my son to sleep. In the busyness of life pre-baby, I was so busy "doing" and "serving" that I didn't always stop to pray. But now I had the opportunity to do that like never before.
So that is how I became a "prayer warrior" - I always liked the term, but never felt I had done enough praying in my time to warrant the use it to describe myself! But as I prayed day after day during those first few weeks and months of being a mum, I really did feel like I was starting to own that title.
The church NEEDS prayer warriors in the background to cover everything they are doing in prayer and commit it to God. It NEEDS people who will spend the time wrestling with God in prayer to make sure that he hears the heart of his people. So in my "dead" time I prayed about a multitude of things:
- for the leaders of our church
- for specific families and their circumstances known to me
- for Sam and his future
- for us as parents - to have wisdom to know what to do!
- for our local community
- for the church's outreach programmes and non-believers
- for Sam and us to sleep!!!!
The list could go on and on, and to be honest it doesn't matter what you are praying about, because God just loves to hear our prayers and they will make a difference.
So here is my challenge (and encouragement!) to all new mums. Yes it may be lonely, boring sometimes, and a definite change of pace, BUT you can still make a huge difference in God's Kingdom if you take up the title of "Prayer Warrior" and make use of all your "dead" time to pray for everything and anything. Your prayer for sleep may not always be answered with a yes, but I would take that as a compliment that God just wants to spend more time talking with you!