Over the last few days I’ve been reading the handwritten notes of Davin’s mother, Scripture she wrote down while praying for her son during the year of his cancer. And pray she did, with persistence, tears, and the conviction that God keeps his promises. As we talked about the last year, about losing her son, I asked her about so many heartbreaking points in time and said, ‘What did you do then?’ Without hesitation, the answer was pretty much always the same: ‘Well I prayed. I got on my knees and I prayed to God. I just depended on him for everything.’
Davin was, without question, bathed in prayer by his mother. And not really just last year, but all his life. Wherever he went, whatever he faced, he had the prayers of his mother to watch over him. It was such a habit, she said, that even now she can’t help but pray for him. After 33 years of praying, you can’t just stop. He is her son.
As I’ve contemplated her prayers, I’ve also thought about the fact that he died. He didn’t live. She prayed for healing and didn’t get it. How do you make sense of all that? Did her prayers make no difference in the end? What about my prayers now, and yours? Did she waste all those hours praying for a year when the result was inevitable?
And then I thought about a story in Mark’s gospel, where a woman came to Jesus in Bethany and covered him with insanely expensive perfume and some people said, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?” (Mark 14:4). Jesus was going to die anyway; doesn’t that mean her act was pointless? Jesus’ response pierced my heart as I wondered about a mother’s prayers:
Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her (Mark 14:6-9).
Whether she knew it or not, Davin’s mother anointed his life with prayer like perfume, preparing him to die so well and to remain faithful unto the end. Her prayers were an act of worship, a loud proclamation to all the world that Christ is worthy of our best moments and our worst, that he is more precious than life itself. What she has done is a beautiful thing, particularly in the sight of God. I think Davin’s death is especially fragrant to God and us because of those faithful prayers, which God has answered.
I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. — Abraham Lincoln
Hallelujah for the prayers and love of a mother, which like God’s covenant love do not end, in life or in death. As I’ve shared with my wife, a mother of three small boys, so I also urge every mother reading this—consider the primary importance of the most powerful thing you can ever do for your children: pray for them without ceasing. When they are faithful, pray for them. When they stumble, pray for them. When light shines on their life, pray for them. When they’re dying, pray for them. Like Davin’s mother, like Jesus’ mother, like the woman at Bethany, anoint them with your prayers, because there isn’t a more powerful, God-glorifying gift you could give them.