If you have ever been on an airplane, you know the instructions given at the beginning of every flight (the ones where for a second you think, “Maybe we should drive?”). The flight attendant announces,
In case of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down in front of you. If you are traveling with a child, please put on your mask first before assisting the child seated next to you.
As mamas, our instinct tells us to take care of our babies first. But how can we do that if we have passed out? We get the logic when it comes to airline travel. But we believe when our feet are on the ground, we can ignore that advice.
Dear Mama, don’t. Put on your oxygen mask.
Put on Your Oxygen Mask: Prayer
Was there ever a person who gave more than Jesus? And I’m not even referring to giving His life on the cross for us, but His day-to-day sacrifices. Jesus taught, cast out demons, and healed the sick. He was a champion of the poor, widows, orphans, and women. He offered life to sinners. He ate with tax collectors and hung out with fisherman. He took time for little children. The religious leaders questioned Him constantly, and plotted against Him. Those in his hometown, and even His own family rejected Him. Yet Jesus kept serving. How?
The story of Jesus’s feeding of the 5000 gives us a clue about at least one reason. When we hear the story, we often focus on the miracle itself. But I want you to look closely at what Jesus did at the beginning and the end of the story.
Jesus had just received some devastating news: His cousin John the Baptist, the one who prepared the way for Him, had been beheaded by a foolish king. Oh, the grief Jesus must have felt. What did He choose to do when He heard the news?
Now when Jesus heard this he went away from there privately in a boat to an isolated place. But when the crowd heard about it, they followed him on foot from the towns. As he got out he saw the large crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Matthew 14:13-14 NET)
In the midst of His own grief, he compassionately ministered to the crowds. And after this long day he performed an incredible miracle, feeding over 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And there were even left-overs! Y’all, I don’t even have left overs when a few teen boys come over. Now notice what He did next.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he dispersed the crowds. And after he sent the crowds away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came he was there alone. (Matthew 14:22-23 NET)
Jesus Himself sought time alone to pray. Despite the earlier interruption, He made time following what must have seemed an endless day. This wasn’t an isolated event, either. We find these moments scattered throughout the gospels.
Let that sink in a bit. As busy as Jesus was, as exhausting His ministry must have been, and with as many people who needed Him, he took time alone to pray.
If Jesus needed this, how much more must we?
Finding Time to Pray Can be Hard
Sweet Mama, you are ministering to your family daily. So many responsibilities clamor for your time and attention: clean the house, cook the meals, do the laundry, play with your children, referee their arguments, teach them their letters and math and even math with letters (oh, sweet algebra!).
I know it is exhausting. Overwhelming at times. Maybe the thought of taking time alone to pray, or to do anything, seems impossible. You may be trying to figure out how to just go to the bathroom by yourself. (I wish I could give you a hug.)
But here is the truth. If you don’t fill yourself up with life-giving oxygen, there will be consequences.
When someone experiences oxygen deprivation, they show these symptoms:
- rapid and shallow breathing
- a racing heart
- excessive sweating
And when we are extremely tired, stressed, and overwhelmed we can have these same physical reactions. Please, don’t wait for it to get to that point. Don’t wait for the burnout, the feelings of depression, or the loss of joy. You simply cannot give from an empty cup. And prayer is one of the primary ways to fill it up.
You Can Do It
Martin Luther once said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
You might not be able to do that. I’m pretty sure Luther never had to get up multiple times during the night to feed a baby (not that he wasn’t busy in some other important ways!). But you can do something.
You can connect to God through prayer. You may have to get a bit creative. You may have to give up something. You may even have to ask for help. But please, follow Jesus’s example.
If he made time to get alone and pray, then certainly we can figure out a way to do the same.
Sweet Mama, put on your oxygen mask.
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