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A PRAYING MOTHER
(ADAPTED FROM A SERMON BY JOHN LINTON [1888-1965]
Delivered by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life” (I Samuel 1:10-11).
Hannah, the mother of Samuel, is a great example of a praying mother. Her child’s birth was an answer to prayer; his dedication to the work of the Lord was the result of a covenant made with God in prayer: and no doubt Samuel’s remarkable life was the answer to the unceasing prayers of his godly mother.
I could give you a list of the great men whose mothers have been prayer warriors, because the history of great and good men is simply a list of praying mothers, and there is hardly an exception to this rule.
The highest example of moral conviction in a man of American heritage was in our most noted President, “Honest Abe.” Abraham Lincoln’s (1809-1865) mother was a godly Christian who, every Sunday, set Abe on her knee and read to him the Word of God. Her special concentration for her son was the knowledge of the Ten Commandments.
This godly mother once said, “I would rather Abe be able to read the Bible than to own a farm, if he can have only one.”
Nancy Lincoln died in 1818, when Abe was only nine years of age, but the law of God had been inscribed in his heart. Her last words were:
Abe, I’m going to leave you now, and I shall not return. I want you to be kind to your father and live as I have taught you. Love your heavenly Father and keep His commandments.
When asked later in life why he was so honest, he said that he could still clearly hear the tones of his mother’s voice as she spoke to him from Exodus 20 and read of the Lord God who gave His commandments. Lincoln declared, “All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
“Stop needling me, Mother!” If Robert Moffatt (1795-1883) did not say it, at least he was thinking it when his mother volunteered some advice as her son prepared to leave home. Earnestly she sought to get him to promise that he would read his Bible and pray twice daily.
Robert tried to ignore her entreaties, but at the moment of parting his mother once again implored, “Son, please promise me to read the Bible.”
The youth recognized that he dare not refuse. “Yes, Mother,” he replied, “I promise.”
Later he explained to acquaintances who inquired about his practice: “My promise once made, must be kept.”
So you see, if Mother had not “needled,” South Africa might have missed its pioneer missionary!
C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) paid this tribute to his beloved mother:
I cannot tell how much I owe to the solemn words and prayers of my Christian mother. It was a custom while we were children to sit around the table and read the Scripture verse by verse while Mother explained it to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading with God.
Some of the words of our mother’s prayers we shall never forget, even when our heads are gray. I remember her once praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in sin, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Jesus Christ.”
There is an intensity of desire, and a perseverance of faith in a mother’s prayers that assures from God an answer. You can see this intensity of faith and desire in Hannah’s prayer, and God answered it. You can see it in the prayer of Catherine Booth when she said, “O God, I will not stand before you without all my children,” and God gave her all her children. You see it in the prayer of the mother of John MacNeill, the Scottish preacher. When he was twenty-one, he came home from a meeting at twelve o’clock one night. He had just given his heart to Christ. His mother was asleep but he woke her to tell her the good news. He told her he was converted and was going to be a preacher of the Gospel. He asked, “Are you glad, Mother?” And drawing his face down to hers she answered, “I prayed for that before you were born.”
A beautiful story is told of Christian Schwartz which shows what the prayers of a mother can accomplish. His mother, dying at the time her baby was born, lived long enough to beg her husband to promise that when God called the babe out to be a missionary, he would not stand in the way. She could give no guardianship to the life of her child but the guardianship of prayer.
Are you surprised to know that in an age when missionary work was almost unknown, that baby, now grown to manhood, should come home from the university and declare to his father that God had called him to be a missionary? After three days of soul conflict, the father, recalling the promise to his dying wife, gave him his blessing, and wished him Godspeed as he went forth to India, a pioneer missionary, one generation before William Carey.
My friends, since there is such mighty power in prayer to solve the problems of Motherhood, and to change the lives of men, what shall be said of the professing Christian mothers who do not know how to pray effectually, and who do not want to learn? When they pray it is in the feeblest way. They do not know how to prevail with God. Nobody speaks of them as spiritually-minded women. Their interest centers more on the material needs of their children than on their more important spiritual needs.
How many of our mothers reading this message have [prayed through for] their children’s salvation?
The influence of Motherhood is not only an opportunity; it is also a fearful responsibility. It is an awful thing to be a prayerless mother.
How greatly we need Christian mothers to pray daily that their children, raised in the church, will come under deep conviction of sin. Very few children raised in the church will experience real conversion unless God makes them feel "my sin is ever before me" (Psalm 51:3). It is only when God makes them feel inward pain for their sins that they will feel their need for Jesus to pardon them and cleanse them with His precious Blood. Mothers, pray daily for God to bring your children under conviction of sin!
(END OF SERMON)
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Prayer Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Tell Mother I’ll Be There” (by Charles M. Fillmore, 1860-1952).