While excavating Mount Masada in Israel, archeologists discovered something extraordinary . . . a date palm seed. It might not seem like much (especially if you’re like me and totally expected it to be a new dinosaur or something), but this particular seed sat dormant in the dry desert soil for almost 2,000 years. Scientists ended up finding several more seeds like it throughout the Judean desert, and with a little TLC, they were able to sprout not just one but six of them. Six date palm trees, now bearing fruit that hasn’t been seen in two millennia. Incredible, right?
As a mom, I pray for my kids every night.
No—this is not a holier-than-thou humblebrag. I’m not on my knees in dedicated prayer for any respectable length of time. If I’m completely honest, my prayers are usually tucked between a quick bedtime story and a kiss goodnight. Maybe it’s the end-of-day exhaustion or because the pajama struggle is so real, but my prayers are short, sweet, and to the point. I simply pray for their protection and that they always keep Jesus in their hearts. It never feels like enough.
It’s just a seed of a prayer—and a tiny one at that.
I remember my mom praying for me as a little girl. I don’t remember specifics, just that she would sit at the edge of my bed, and we would pray together. She continued those prayers in private as I transitioned into my teen and young adult years. I never asked her about them until recently. Now, as a mother myself, I was curious as to what she prayed for all those years.
Like the prayers I pray for my children, she always asked God for two things. The first was for my protection. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, those prayers came to fruition in real-time all those years ago. I could tell you countless stories that could have—no, should have—turned out far differently than they did. I’m talking about things that would have completely altered the course of my life or ended it in its entirety. Those prayers of protection saved my life in so many ways, and I am eternally indebted in gratitude to our Heavenly Father . . . and to a loving mother who knew the power of a simple prayer.
The second thing she prayed for was that God would guide me to make the right decisions. I couldn’t help but laugh a little when she told me that. The right decisions? Remember, my entire adolescence and young adulthood were chockfull of wrong decision after wrong decision. She must have felt like God was blatantly ignoring the latter half of her nightly prayer during those turbulent years.
But I assure you, He wasn’t.
Our parental prayers are tiny seeds, and our children are the holy ground in which we plant them.
Some seeds drop just below the soil, receiving the perfect amount of water and sunlight. They take root, shooting through the dirt with unbridled ease, and we become joyous witnesses to the beauty of unfurling leaves and ripening fruit.
But then there are the other seeds.
Those that get driven down into the dirt by influences trying to tend that holy ground for us—peers, technology, drugs, alcohol, the world. The seeds become buried so deep that they are starved of everything they need to grow. And just like those ancient seeds scattered throughout the Judean desert, they lie dormant in the darkness indefinitely—or that’s how it would appear to the untrained eye.
How many times had my mom prayed for me to make the right decisions? Thousands, I’m sure. Yet here I was in my early 20s, miserable from over half a decade of bad choices. I lived like God didn’t exist, but in the depths of my heart, I knew otherwise. And likewise, in the depths of my despair is where He met me.
With Godly gusts, he began to erode layer after layer of soil until, one day, those thousands of seeds appeared just below the surface. And then they began to sprout, pushing up through the soil one by one. I began to make right decision after right decision.
Within a few short years, my own holy ground went from an uncultivated wasteland to a flourishing wetland.
Seeds are referenced nearly 100 times throughout the Bible, and for good reason. They are the epitome of potential, just like the prayers for our children. Even the smallest of seeds can grow into the biggest of trees.
So, I will keep praying those tiny prayers over my children—the rushed ones, the interrupted ones, the single-sentence ones. Because it’s not about the length of the prayer; it’s about the weight. And just like a mother’s heart is heavy for her children, so are her prayers.
Keep doing the holy work, mama. Keep tending to their sacred ground. Keep scattering those seeds of prayer, whether your child is six months old or 60 years old.
Because somewhere in Israel, there’s a seed that was buried in the desert for two thousand years. Because somewhere in Illinois, there’s a girl who hit rock bottom.
And today, they both stand taller than ever.