SAN DIEGO — Just look at the newspaper or the evening news and, whether a school district has approved a controversial curriculum or thousands of teachers have received pink slips, America’s schools seem to be in a state of turmoil.
For Angie Serrano, San Diego area coordinator for Moms in Prayer International, this current crisis presents an opportunity for God to work miracles. All we need to do is ask for them.
“We need to go to battle for our children, and their teachers, and their schools — on our knees and together in prayer — because God will hear us, and God will do far above what we ask or imagine,” said Serrano, a 51-year-old grandmother who attends Mission Church of the Nazarene.
Moms in Prayer, formerly known as Moms in Touch, is an ecumenical Christian prayer ministry. It was founded in 1984 in Abbotsford, British Columbia, by Fern Nichols, who was deeply concerned about the challenges that her children would face as they entered junior high. Nichols, whose family would relocate to Poway the following year, prayed for God to connect her with other concerned mothers who might join her in praying for their children and their schools.
“God just grew this ministry from one garage and a couple of moms praying” into an international organization with active groups in all 50 states and in more than 140 countries, said Serrano.
The ultimate goal, she said, is for every school in the world eventually to be “covered in prayer.”
In the City of San Diego alone, 25 registered groups currently meet in churches, homes, coffee shops and other locations for a weekly hour of “solid, powerful and effective prayer,” Serrano said.
Mary Davidson, 64, has been a member of Moms in Prayer since 1989. Davidson, who holds leadership positions with prayer groups in Carmel Valley and Encinitas, said women naturally “tend to be a little chatty.” But the format of the prayer meetings, which are devoted exclusively to prayer, keeps them focused.
Each meeting includes four steps of prayer: praise of God for who He is; silent confession of one’s sins; thanksgiving to God for what He has done; and intercession in groups of two or three.
During the period of intercessory prayer, each mother chooses one child for whom to pray. They pray a Scriptural verse over the child, incorporating that child’s name into the Bible verse, and then make a specific prayer request for that child. In the same manner, each mother prays for one teacher and school. They also pray for other concerns relating to the schools and to the Moms in Prayer ministry.
The group’s prayerful use of Scripture is something that resonates with Davidson and Serrano.
“Anytime you’re in the Word,” Davidson said, “it’s so much better for you than just listening to the wisdom of the world, to be reminded of what God’s focus is and what God’s cares are.”
Serrano said there is a good reason why the group is so “very Scripture heavy.”
“God said His word doesn’t return to Him void; it always produces a result,” she explained.
Because prayer is “something that appeals to moms and grandmas of all ages,” Serrano said, the group’s membership is diverse.
“It’s a genuine group that loves children,” added Rosie Bendy, 72, a retired teacher who leads the Mira Mesa-based Moms in Prayer group. “We have all different walks of life — we have lawyers, we have nurses, we have all different kinds of people.”
Davidson said the group has something to offer both to stay-at-home moms, whose lifestyle can feel “very isolating” at times, as well as to women who need “a time … to just slow down” from the frenetic pace set by their careers and other obligations.
In some ways, the prayer ministry is a natural extension of a mother’s vocation.
“Moms want the best for their children and realize they can’t be with their children all the time,” Serrano said. “As our kids get older, we more and more turn to God because we know that God is with them all the time and [ask] God to … protect them, and to bless them, and give them open doors of opportunity.”
Serrano became very involved with Moms in Prayer about 10 years ago, when the oldest of her three daughters was a senior in high school and dating a boy she refused to bring home to meet her parents.
“That scared me and so I began going to that prayer group very faithfully from that time on,” she said. As she began to see answers to her prayers, her faith “grew by leaps and bounds.”
Within about 15 months, her daughter’s boyfriend broke up with her, citing a desire to be closer to God. Serrano said her daughter “cried and cried for about a month,” but then realized that she too wanted to be closer to God. That daughter is now 27 and recently married.
“That was a pretty dramatic turnaround,” she said, acknowledging that parents sometimes pray for many years for “their prodigal children” before seeing such a change.
While God cares about “the small details” of our lives, Serrano said, we should also have the courage to ask for “really big” things.
“We don’t have to figure out how God’s going to do it,” she said. “I think some people get hung up on that.”
For example, she said that Moms in Prayer is praying for “revival and spiritual awakening” on school campuses.
“How’s God going to do that?” Serrano asked. “I don’t know, but I don’t have to figure it out. We just ask for big things and we ask in confidence.”
Group members also must be persistent and patient.
“We ask in faith, we have confidence and eager expectation because of the promises [God has made about prayer], and then we wait on God’s timing,” she said, “because God acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
For more information, visit MomsInPrayer.org or contact Serrano at (707) 416-6840 or Angie4prayer@sbc global.net.