Gleanings from a Book: “The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms” by Annalisa Boyd

“Prayer is a great weapon, a rich treasure, a wealth that is never exhausted, an undisturbed refuge, a cause of tranquility, the root of a multitude of blessings and their source.” ~ St. John Chrysostom

“Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17

As a rule, adults have so many obligations, so many places to go, and so much work to do. Sunday Church School teachers willingly add lesson planning and caring for their students to their long “to-do” lists, as well. With so many responsibilities, how can we find time to “pray without ceasing”? Annalisa Boyd meets that question head-on in the introduction to her uplifting and helpful book, The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms. “No matter how little time we feel we have, we can always take a moment to pray. Learning all or some of the daily prayers… will help you take advantage of even those fleeting moments to pray.” (p. 26)

This book is aimed at Orthodox moms who want to prayerfully raise their children in the Faith; but it is equally useful to any Orthodox Christian, male or female, who works with children and desires to see these children raised in the Faith. The heartening chapters at the beginning of the book set the reader’s mind at ease that he/she is not the only one going through tough circumstances or wondering how on earth to live her Faith in the midst of the mundane tasks of life. The bulk of the book is the myriad of prayers for various situations, which have been carefully gathered and organized by topic, and can therefore be easily found. The book includes basic daily prayers, prayers for times of trouble, prayers for the sick, preparation for confession, prayers of blessing and thankfulness, prayers through the stages of motherhood, prayers for godchildren and other “bonus” children, prayers for the future, and more.

A highlight of the book (and the largest chapter of all), titled “Tea Time at the Abyss”, references this quote:

“Stand at the brink of the abyss of despair, and when you see that you cannot bear it anymore, draw back a little and have a cup of tea.” ~ Elder Sophrony of Essex

In this chapter’s introduction, Boyd reassures the reader, “Let us step back and take tea together … Of course we may not be able to sit at each other’s tables and sip a perfectly steeped pot together, but we can pray for one another and be an encouragement. We can make a pot of gratitude for all the Lord has blessed us with and sip it throughout the day through prayer and the reading of His word. We can choose to face the difficulties, in the strength of Christ our Lord and lay down the idea that we must somehow bear it all. How freeing is that thought alone? May we take hold of even the smallest moments each day to enter into prayer, allowing us to step back and drink in Christ, for He promises to quench our thirst and give us His peace. Thank God!” (p. 38-39) The rest of the chapter lists topics from “Addiction” to “Special Needs,” which include quotes from scriptures and saints, as well as prayers related to each topic. (Note: some of the prayers in this book are prayers prescribed by the Church. Others are “simply prayers from the heart of one mama to another… (to) be used for encouragement and to promote your own personal prayer time with Our Lord.” ~ pp. 11-12)

This book is a wonderful resource for anyone who works closely with children. While it is aimed primarily at mothers, most of the quotes and prayers will be just as uplifting and useful for fathers or teachers, as well. It will be a much-used companion to anyone who adds it to their library and then faithfully uses it to help them to “pray without ceasing.”

The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd is available for purchase here:

Follow the author’s blog, “The Ascetic Lives of Mothers,” here:

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