Let's Pray for the Kids
Veronica Williams is a foundress of "Mothers Prayers," a worldwide movement of "praying mothers."
Our Sunday Visitor - Two grandmothers unwittingly started a worldwide ministry of praying for children. Our Sunday Visitor spoke recently to one of the founders, Veronica Williams in England.
OSV: How did Mothers Prayers start?
Veronica: Three and a half years ago, I was involved with a booklet entitled, "What on Earth Are We Doing to Our Children," which documented all the bad things happening to our children. Shortly afterwards, my sister-in-law, Sandra, woke up twice in the night hearing the words, "Pray for your children." We decided to pray the third joyful mystery of the rosary for a month and ask the Lord what he wanted us to do. After that, we joined with three other women to pray for our children, and that was the first Mothers Prayers.
How did it evolve from there?
From the very beginning, we felt that this was the Lord's, and not ours. He was the boss, and we were just his secretaries. We decided the best thing was to pray and let the Lord open the doors, rather than us rushing into something.
How did He start opening the doors?
Other people quickly became interested, so Sandra and I split up, and she began a Mothers Prayers in her house, and I held one in my house. Then, we had some unexpected publicity: A journalist for the Universe (a Catholic newspaper in England) did an article on Mothers Prayers. An Anglican paper ran the same article, and then a local Baptist minister telephoned me and asked me to speak on Radio Kent.
By that time, had you established a format for Mothers Prayers?
Yes. We start with prayers of protection for our children and the meeting. Next, we pray for the Holy Spirit to take over the meeting. Then we pray for Unityto be of one heart and mind with each other and all the groups around the worldfollowed by prayers of repentance, songs of praise, a Bible reading, and a prayer of thanksgiving for motherhood. At the end, each woman kneels at a table where we have a crucifix, candle, Bible, and a basket at the foot of the cross. One by one, we place paper disks with our children's names on them into the basket, and acknowledge that our children belong to God more than they belong to us. There's tremendous healing, and sometimes the women weep.
Could you pray an example of a surrendering prayer?
"Lord I thank you for my childrenfor Christine and Phil. You know everything about them, Lord, you know their needs and worries. You know my concerns too, but you love them far more than I could ever love them, and they belong to you. I now place them at the foot of your cross, and I thank you for taking the burden from me. And I believe in your promise: 'Ask and you shall receive,' so I trust in you, Lord, and thank you for the comfort that your Word brings."
What happens in a mother's heart as week-by-week she surrenders her children to God? Gradually she becomes more and more peaceful. Normally women keep pain and worry about their children inside, because they don't want others to think badly about their children, and also perhaps they feel they have failed in some way. The Lord wants women to be happy about being mothers; to rejoice in motherhood; and not to feel the weight, responsibility, and pain as something they have to hold to themselvesbut as something they can actually offer to the Lord.
Isn't it hard for women with children in difficult situations (i.e., drugs, runaway, alcohol, etc.) to come week after week, especially if they don't see a change?
We know that every prayer is answered. Some prayers are answered instantly, and others take longer; it always happens in the Lord's time. Even though the situation may not change, the way a woman feels about it changesbecause there's a great peace knowing that her burden is handed over to the Lord, and that she has other women supporting her in prayer.
What are some prayers that have been answered?
The most common one is children coming back to their faith. For one woman, the first week she prayed, her daughter came back to Mass after 10 years. Another answered prayer was a 22-year-old man who told his dad he wanted to be confirmed in the first week that his mother started praying. One daughter, who had been missing seven years, was united with her mother a week after she started praying. Another son, who was missing 4½ years, came home nine days later. The Lord is answering these prayers instantly to confirm that this is what He wants us to do.
How has Mothers Prayers spread throughout the world?
In Australia, a priest received a copy of the Mothers Prayers booklet and telephoned me to write an article and groups sprang up from that. Another time, I spoke at a prayer meeting in England, and a man from the Czech Republic was there, and he asked me come to his country and speak. Now, there are more than 100 groups in the Czech Republic. A nun asked me to speak at the Catholic Wives of American Military, and, from that, I was invited to speak at their international conference in Germany. One of the conference participants had a mother in California, and now she's our contact person in the States. We also have groups in Russia, Africa, Portugal, Cyprus, Malta, Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Slovakia, Germany, France, New Zealand, Trinidad, Japan, China, Chile, Mexico, and Kula Lumpa.
Can I start a Mothers Prayers using just the booklet?
Yes, it's all written downthe prayers and the format. But if a woman feels called to start a group, we suggest she pray the third joyful mystery of the Rosary every day for a month and ask the Lord to guide her and bring the people He wants to her. We also suggest that every group register with us in England, because then they can receive a quarterly newsletter with news from around the world.
What about women who are not mothers?
Single women, and those who are married but haven't been blessed with children, are most welcome because they're spiritual mothers, and we need spiritual mothers. They can pray for their nieces, nephews, godchildren, and friends' children. We have any nuns who surround us with a whole protection of prayers.
Also, many women who have had miscarriages or abortions have experienced healing. When we went to Russia, we discovered the average number of abortions per woman is five. You can imagine the pain they feel. If a woman has had the sadness of a miscarriage of abortion, we ask her to close her eyes and ask the Lord to give her a name for that child. Whatever name comes, she writes it down on a disk. Then, when she kneels at the table before the cross of Jesus, she can offer that child and thank the Lord that this child as part of her family. It makes it very real, and it's very healing.
What about the fathers?
Just as St. Joseph was so necessary for the Holy Family for protection and guidance, so the men are very important for protection and guidance for Mothers Prayers. We had a meeting in my house with the men, and from that came a prayer that we ask men to pray every day to protect their own families, the families of men who don't pray, and Mothers Prayers.
Why does Mothers Prayers strike such a deep chord in women?
Wherever you go, women have the same problems: drugs, violence, pornography, bullying at school, etc. Because we have a rule of confidentiality, the women feel safe to say anything that's on their heart. The rest of us are never shocked. All we care about is that this woman is in pain, and we just put our arms around her and pray with her. These are not counseling sessions; it's a time to let women unburden and offer everything to the Lord.
A Father's Prayer for Protection: Lord, we thank you for the gift of Fatherhood, and ask forgiveness for our failure to carry out our responsibilities, our failure to love, and our failure to protect our family. We repent on behalf of all fathers, and ask your help to turn away from the things that separate us from you. We ask you, Lord, for the strength and guidance we need to fulfill our role, to accept our proper place in society as fathers, following the example of Joseph the husband of Mary. We ask you, Father, for your protection of all women and children you have placed in our care, and we ask you to guard them against all assaults of the enemy. Father, we ask also for your blessing on Mothers Prayers, that it will continue to be guided by the Holy Spirit. We ask this through your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Originally published in Our Sunday Visitor, October 3, 1999. Visit their website at (www.osv.com). To find out more information about Mothers Prayers in the United States, contact Lorraine Johnson at (707) 678-2825, or in the United Kingdom contact Veronica Williams at 44-01474-834-084 or email her at (email@example.com).
Katrina J. Zeno, a freelance writer and speaker on topics such as the nature of men and women, singles and romance, the culture of life, the new feminism, prayer, and parenting, is also co-foundress of Women of the Third Millennium, an organization that promotes the dignity and vocation of women through one-day retreats. Her articles and interviews have appeared numerous periodicals, including Our Sunday Visitor, New Covenant magazine, Catholic Parent, and Franciscan Way, and she has spoken in the U.S., Canada, England, and Trinidad.