By KATIE EUBANKS
On September 4, 2015, Jill Chaney’s husband passed away. A few weeks later, she attended her first Moms in Prayer meeting at First Presbyterian Day School (FPDS) in Jackson.
“Prior to (my husband’s death), I knew of all the different things that moms and dads would get involved in at (FPDS), but (it) wasn’t pressing enough for me to make the time,” Jill says.
When her husband would pick their son up from school, “he’d get there early, and he’d help out in carpool, because he was a JPD officer. Everybody got to know him, but they didn’t know me.”
But Jill had always been involved with prayer groups at church. “I know the power of prayer,” she says.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, she showed up to Moms in Prayer at FPDS. “I did not even know they had someone at the school who curates all the prayer requests,” she says. “They had the prayer list, and they were going through it … and they said my son’s name.”
The group had never met Jill (and still didn’t know who she was until one of the moms figured it out) — but they cared enough to pray for her and her son. She started going to every meeting.
“It wasn’t just because I had a void,” she says. “It was because I knew it was the most important thing I could do for those little people and the administrators who take care of them.”
Moms in Prayer (MIP) is an international Christian organization with local groups all over the world. Each group prays for a school or group of schools — including students, faculty and administrators — in their community.
Most groups are made up of moms of school-age kids, while other groups pray for adult children and even grandchildren. Any mom or grandma can join a group, and MIP is adamant that “what’s prayed in the group stays in the group.”
Don’t want to pray aloud? You don’t have to. Need some guidance on what to pray? You’ll be given a handout on just that: Most groups systematically pray through a student roster one chunk at a time, and the prayers are all based on the Bible. Can’t meet during the day? Chances are, you can find a group that meets after work. Have to miss a meeting? You can find prayer sheets on the MIP website.
In other words, you have no excuse not to pray, whether you’re at a meeting physically or in spirit.
“The Bible says where two or three touch and agree, He’ll be there,” Jill says.
Several members of Jackson-area MIP groups recently spoke with MCL Editor Katie Eubanks about how their experiences with MIP have impacted them and their children. Following are excerpts from the group interview, edited for space and clarity.
Katie Eubanks: I’d love to hear how some of you got involved in Moms in Prayer, and what keeps you coming back.
Tracy Grenfell (Madison County Schools group): The different spiritual disciplines — one of many I lacked was prayer. (And) my oldest son just started ninth grade at Jackson Prep. I wanted to meet new people.
What keeps us coming back is our kids — anxiety, fear, Xbox — there are so many things coming against our kids.
Lea Freeny Browne (First Presbyterian Day School group): I work an 8 to 5, and I never had the luxury of an (extravagant) amount of time at my kids’ school. (But) I can commit to praying for every child at my child’s school.
TG: Beth (Noland) picks our attribute (of God) for the week. Every week, our prayer focuses on a different attribute of God. So often, (that attribute is) exactly what I need.
Beth Noland (Madison County Schools group): Because the Lord chooses it. (An example handout provided by the group says at the top, “God is our confidence” and cites multiple scriptures, including Psalm 71:5, Proverbs 3:26 and 1 John 5:14-15.)
Kysia Geary (Jackson Academy group): I will randomly pick (the attribute of God). You get there and it always works.
Deborah Schuster (church grandmothers’ group, Rankin County): My pastor will be speaking on that (same) attribute (and) I’ll think, are you peeking (at what we’re doing in MIP)?
Moms in Prayer is where I learned to pray the Word of God. Up until then, I had not been exposed to that.
KG: I never knew how to pray until Moms in Prayer. … It’s like the best thing I do every week. (Beth and others echo this.)
KE: What was it like the first time you attended MIP?
LFB: It was intimidating because they all seemed like they had it all together. Then I realized, these moms have eccentric learners. I’m a mom of dyslexics. It’s wonderful to find moms who understand.
Melissa Thomas (group praying for college and special needs kids): I think the intergenerational aspect is neat too. The lady I pray with is older, so she can tell me, ‘That’s normal,’ or, ‘Maybe you should talk to their doctor about that.’ (laughs)
Amy Horner (Hartfield Academy group): We didn’t have any expectations, because we were all new. (The Hartfield group restarted this year after a hiatus due to COVID.) I don’t expect you to pray like a pastor. Just express your heart to God.
KE: How do you keep the prayer time from becoming a gossip session?
LFB: I tell newcomers, this is not a gossiping place.
TG: We don’t have time for that.
DS: (And) we don’t want to try to fix the problem but take the problem to God. (Laughter all around)
KE: What kinds of things do y’all typically pray for?
MT: My prayer and typically (the other moms in my group) is for their safety and health — all aspects of health.
LFB: We pray for our kids to have wisdom, for them to choose to do right.
Whitney Canoy (Jackson Prep group): I pray for current events. If they have a sports injury, or if they’re traveling somewhere … There’s usually always something to pray for.
TG: Ours are in that early high school (stage) … they need prayer.
BN: Sometimes it’s really specific — a test, a college roommate — and sometimes it’s Christian character things.
DS: Or salvation.
BN: Or salvation. It kind of toggles.
TG: Strengthening their Christian identity.
WC: I tell my kids, ‘We prayed for you today. … This is something I want y’all to do (too).’
BN: For their friends. That they would encourage them in their faith.
DS: And that they’d be a good friend.
LFB: Play with the child who doesn’t get played with.
BN: When I first moved here, I prayed for someone to invite to (my kid’s) birthday party.
DS: We pray for (all) the adults who are involved in that child’s life. Our teachers, administrators, government, bus drivers, custodians.
LFB: We (also) do letters of encouragement. We’ve had teachers, when they’re going through hard times, bring out the cards they’ve received (from us) … The Moms in Prayer site has (those available).
KE: Have you seen the impact of MIP on your kids?
Trashonda Dixon (Hartfield Academy group): Oh, yeah. We’re new to Hartfield this year. We had homeschooled for eight years. My son was in eighth grade (and) his friends moved to Texas. He’s a good boy, a smart boy, and he was struggling.
(The ladies in my MIP group) rallied around him. Amy (Horner) said, ‘I think he’s in my son’s class.’ You see him start to come out of his shell. He is himself. He’s wanting to play football. He’s found his friend group.
DS: Prayers aren’t always answered the way we want. … I have seen a lot of answers to prayer, years later. (So) I encourage the young moms (with that).
LFB: I also think too that prayer has such eternal significance. When I stand before God and my children stand before God, I want to make sure I’ve done everything I can do. I want them to bring a lot of people with them (to heaven).
TD: Everything we do, we’re sowing seeds. I tell my kids, ‘I may not be here with you all the time … but one day the Lord will bring the harvest.’ He is a finisher. The good work He started … (it’s the) same with our children.
MT: I think the international component is neat too. This week we pray for Turkey and Syria. As we pray for Turkey and Syria, there’s other people (in other countries) praying for us.
BN: Every state has sister countries (to pray for). (Mississippi’s sister countries are Kuwait, Lesotho, Malawi, and Senegal.)
KE: How has MIP impacted you personally?
DS: I have people asking me to pray for them (because) they know I’m in Moms in Prayer. I’m so blown away, because my prayers are so simple and so childlike.
TG: I trip over my words and stumble (during prayer), but it’s OK.
KG: When people thank me (for praying for them or their child), I say, I do this for me. I feel like people are missing out if they don’t do it.
DS: Going to confession before God (which we do at MIP before we pray for others) is one of the most cathartic things you can do.
A lot of my prayers did not end up the way I wanted … But they ended up so much better.
TG: Years ago I was in MOPs, Moms of Preschoolers. We were very isolated. We needed to come together … Moms in Prayer is kind of the graduation of that. … it’s so great to get together and pray in agreement.
WC: You might have a bond with other moms because (of sports or extracurriculars), but when you pray with a group of moms, it’s another level.
For more information on Moms in Prayer or to find a group near you, visit momsinprayer.org or contact Marcy Russo at Southeast@momsinprayer.org.
The impact of Moms in Prayer
Kathryn Cotten, Jackson Prep group:
Our group is so sweet! It is such a privilege and such an encouragement to me to pray with people who genuinely desire to see Jackson Prep honor the Lord and sincerely care about the spiritual, emotional and physical welfare of the entire Prep family.
Lydia Aluko, Madison County Schools group:
(My son didn’t) want to go to school. When it’s Sunday night, he would complain of something. ‘Something is wrong with me, I don’t want to go.’ I would share with other moms (at MIP), and we started praying for him: Let him develop interest in school, connecting with godly friends …
Last semester, he had zero absences. And this semester, first nine weeks, zero absences. So now he enjoys school, and I see him excel. … you can see the joy. He’s always ready to learn. I feel like that’s an answer to prayer. Because even when he went to daycare as a baby, he didn’t want to go.
Marcy Russo, Southeast Division Coordinator, Moms in Prayer:
My daughter was in first or second grade, and all of a sudden she was lying to me. Boldfaced lies, to my face. Those moms (at Moms in Prayer) prayed that she would have truth in her inmost parts. That she would not tolerate a lie.
Fast forward to junior high, and she goes out with certain girlfriends to a movie … She comes back (and says) ‘Mom, my friends tried to get me to see another movie, and I knew it wasn’t right to see that movie, and I said no. They said, “Courtney, just lie to your mom … ” And I told them, “I am not going to lie to my mom!”’
Then fast forward to high school … She dated a boy who didn’t know Jesus. And we were so concerned. She didn’t want to hear it from us. (Then) the boy lied to her, and she found out, and she said, ‘I am not tolerating any lies!’ She had no idea that when she was in first or second grade, we had prayed this over her.
Suzanne Guild, Jackson Academy group:
I got involved with Moms in Prayer 13 years ago when my oldest was in the first grade. I wanted to be a part of something that had an eternal impact. I also knew that there were students who never were lifted up in prayer, and I wanted to do that.
MIP has impacted me more than any Bible study I have ever done. There is something intimate when you show up and just pray together.
An added bonus is the friendships I have made with moms whose paths I would have never crossed because of our kids’ different ages.