There is a penny lying on the floor of the living room. I pick it up and automatically head for the laundry room. Over the little bank on top of the washer, my hand pauses, and my heart prays a quick prayer and then I head into Blind Linda’s room to do the next thing. It has become a beloved ritual.
I read once about a mother who saved pennies which she found unexpectedly and prayed a prayer with every one that her daughter would find a husband. If I could remember who this was, I could perhaps vouch for its success. (Actually I’ve heard of more than one mama who has done this.) I think the end result was that at the wedding reception, a presentation was made of the pennies. I love this!
I liked it so much that I began my collection. Every time I found a penny lying around — in the house, in the yard, in a parking lot, on the floor at Wal-mart, I would pick it up, bring it home, pray a prayer over it and drop it into my little round bank. Sometimes I would have a dilemma. There were times when two or three or four pennies would accumulate before I would go to drop them in. I decided that I needed to have a plan. More than one penny=more than one request.
And so, the basic request that I always prayed would be something like this, “Lord Jesus, please send a guy into Deborah’s life that loves you first and then her next. May his love for you be so deep and so rich and so full that it is the first thing people notice about him. May his love for her be just as obvious.”
If there was a second penny, this was the second request as it slipped through the slot. “Lord Jesus, let this young man be someone that Deborah’s brothers will like. May they be able, not only to co-exist peacefully, but actually be friends. And may the rest of us really like him, too” (This is important!)
If there was a third penny, there would be this carnal note: “And if it’s not asking too much, would you please let him be drop dead handsome?” (Um-h-m-m-m-m-m!)
Depending on the state of my heart, if there was a fourth one, it would include petitions regarding timing (soon!) or grandchildren (yes!) or whatever was foremost in my mind on a given day.
And so the years passed. I didn’t always remember, so sometimes the stash didn’t grow much, and then I came to a place where I was increasingly uncomfortable with my prayer. One by one, I’ve watched her girlfriends find their life mates. One by one, they’ve gotten married, borne these beautiful children that have spirit and intelligence and God-awareness and personality and so much value that sometimes I squint my eyes and shut my heart against the pain of what my girlie does not have. That she really, really wants.
A family. Children to read to and play with and nurture and hold through the long night watches. Someone who loves Jesus more than anything else in the world and then her and then their babies. Something to call her own with flesh and blood and fire and spirit.
I’ve watched her take her friends children into her heart. I’ve watched her love them and nurture friendships with them. I’ve watched her set boundaries for them when they are with her that only increases their love for her.
But sometimes, she cries.
And I kept praying my prayer, but it seemed so different from what my girlie really needed. And so, one day, standing in my laundry room, my hand holding yet another stray penny, I gave it up.
“Lord, you know far better than I do what my girlie needs. You know the desires of her heart, and you have plans for her. I give this up right now. I’m not saying that I will never again pray for a husband for her, but it will not be my primary request ever again.” And I dropped the penny in. And sent my prayer Heavenward.
Now when I have one penny, I pray something like this:
“Lord Jesus, for my Deborie-girl, I pray, first of all that you would conform her to your image. That her heart will look like Jesus to the people she meets in her job, on the street, in her friendships and where she goes. Give her courage and patience and wisdom and strength and vision and purpose and joy on the journey. Help her to be faithful to you and your calling upon her life, whatever that may be. May she live life fully, with zest and anticipation. May she have the sweet, sweet assurance that she is where you want her. Right now. And that you will show the way.”
If there are two pennies, I will usually try to pray specific things about ministry: “You know what you want her to do for the Kingdom. Make your way clear to her. Give her desire. Open doors and close doors according to you will. May the most important things of life be foremost in her mind.
If their are three pennies, I just might get a bit carnal: “Lord Jesus, you know where she might be heading off to next. Let it be a place that she will enjoy to the fullest, and send the right people to share her tent.”
I am not criticizing anyone who prays for a husband for her daughter. In fact, I’m suspicious that God lays on the hearts of a Mama what He wants them to pray for their children. I am saying, though, that it needed to stop at this house. And in the meantime, her little round bank grows heavier. I’ve taken to throwing an occasional nickel and dime in there and muttering, “Okay, Lord, that is a package deal. 5X over the same prayer.”
And most of the time, I rest easy.