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

“I heard it said once that motherhood is a type of asceticism. Like the ascetics, mothers find themselves in a situation that requires their utter devotion, self-denial, daily emotional exercises, facing extreme challenges, and much prayer.” (p.17-18)

Those of us who are mothers know this to be true. There are many moments in each day when we give up our own desires to meet the needs of those around us; especially those of our children. How, then, do we have time to “pray without ceasing” while meeting those needs? 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.

This book is a must-have for any Orthodox mom who wants to prayerfully raise her children in the Faith. The heartening chapters at the beginning of the book set the reader’s mind at ease that she is not the only mother going through tough circumstances or wondering how on earth to live her Faith in the midst of the mundane tasks of motherhood. 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 as mothers. 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 aid to mothers at any stage in life. While it is aimed primarily at mothers, many of the quotes and prayers will be just as uplifting and useful for fathers, as well. It will be a much-used companion to any parent who adds it to their library and then faithfully uses it to help them to “pray without ceasing.”

“It is of great significance if there is a person who truly prays in a family. Prayer attracts God’s Grace and all the members of the family feel it, even those whose hearts have grown cold. Pray always.” ~ Elder Thaddeus

The Ascetic Lives of Mothers: a Prayer Book for Orthodox Moms by Annalisa Boyd is available for purchase here: http://store.ancientfaith.com/the-ascetic-lives-of-mothers/

Follow the author’s blog, “The Ascetic Lives of Mothers,” here:http://theasceticlivesofmothers.blogspot.com/

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