A few tears fell, unchecked, as I stared into her beautiful chocolate-brown eyes. She smiled around the nipple of her bottle, her face crinkling up with her cheery grin and I squeezed her chubby little figure tighter. And I prayed, right there on the kitchen floor where I ended up feeding and cuddling her.
(Yes, the kitchen floor. It’s totally awkward to cuddle a baby in a kitchen chair and the boys were sleeping at the other end of the house.)
This darling child. The one whose birth father doesn’t even know about her…whose birth mother relinquished her parental rights. Would she grow up with attachment issues? Would she struggle with rejection for the rest of her life?
She has wonderful adoptive parents now. Parents who cuddle her and treasure her and value her life. I’ve never seen a six-month-old baby smile so large at her mother.
A few more tears fall, as I think how these chubby fingers gripping my hand will grow longer, her legs rising taller and walking in less-than-a-year, how she’ll become like we all did, this angel child with the crop of curly black hair and the chocolate skin.
“Jasmine, you are so beautiful. God created you with a special purpose in mind. Your life is not a mistake.” I speak to her as her eyelids droop shut and her lips relax, the bottle sliding from her mouth. “Jesus, I pray for spiritual protection over your young daughter, Jasmine. I pray, O God, that You would keep and protect this child, that she would grow into a mighty and powerful woman of God. Thank-you Lord for creating Jasmine and giving her life. I pray that she would grow into a woman that lives for you and that builds your kingdom, an agent of change in the world and in the church. Raise up this life to be a compelling force in Your Kingdom for Your glory.”
More tears come as I pray. Tears for all the women I know, women who struggle through life in darkness and women who wrangle with life in Light. Women who have been abused and become victims and women who have been abused and become conquerors. Women oppressed by the enemy, women who overthrow the enemy. All women who have become, who have developed and struggled and reached and fallen and been raised up. All of us women who must pray for each other in this journey to wholeness, and what better time to start praying over a life than now?
Before the reality of life settles on her soul and the forthcoming weight of responsibility, I pray for her. Before she faces temptation and the wiles of Satan and the oppression of darkness and the accountability of choice, I beseech God for her. Because what better time to start praying over a life, than when a life begins to form and a destiny begun?
I cry because I cannot choose for Jasmine. What her life will be, is not left for me to decide. And it is this, that compels me to pray over her life today. This that urges me to return back to J’mais and Kyle’s room to touch their sleeping foreheads and pray over them. To pray (the hours before nap time) as I close my eyes and breathe slowly (because there is cereal all over the living room floor, mixed in with the toys, and the dishes are piled high and they are all hungry at once) and how I respond matters.
I cannot choose for them, these children of my heart, but my choices affect them, my responses shape them, my smile molds them. Before they will understand who an Almighty God is, will they meet Him in my life? And it is this, that brings me to radical prayer.
There was a twelve-year-old girl, years ago, who called upon God and beseeched Him that He would save and redeem and mightily use a child just birthed into the world. The newborn’s parents were conservative Amish and alive more to the tradition of the church than the Spirit of God. So she prayed, this midwife’s daughter, that God would use this roly-poly baby girl to be a catalyst for Holy Spirit change in her family and community.
Twenty-some years later the midwife’s daughter stood in a church and watched that newborn – grown into a lovely woman – marry her lover in a Christian wedding, with all of her blood-bought, redeemed family standing at her side.
Knowing this, it brings me to pray with unwavering faith.
We cannot live truly in community or be a body complete without this powerful offering of praying over (not just for) each other. I believe it, that when words are spoken or prayed over a soul, that power is given from one to another.
Explosions in Boston, just four hours from where I grew up, some of my old stomping ground. My heart aches. What if people I knew had been running? There are families grieving for the wounded and for the lost. We must pray for those grieving. Some thoughts from one of my heroes, Ann Kiemel Anderson, who ran the Boston marathon three years.
Let us pray over each other and run THE race!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” ~ Hebrews 12:1-2