After the birth of my third child, a friend brought over homemade energy bites, packed with protein and perfect for breastfeeding mothers with grumbling tummies around the clock. I could open the freezer and grab a couple of these healthy treats any time I felt depleted. She simplified physical nourishment for me.
In his book, Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines, David Mathis simplifies spiritual nourishment, beckoning us to cultivate habits that feed our souls in any season—even motherhood in the little years. With language that whets our appetite for knowing and enjoying Jesus, Mathis organizes spiritual disciplines into three biblical categories: the word, prayer, and fellowship, making sure we understand that they are channels of God’s “wonderfully wild and lavish grace” (p. 19)—the means by which we can to fulfill our callings as Christian mothers with joy.
If I haven’t convinced you already, here are three reasons why a mom should consider reading this book:
To Relish Hearing God’s Voice
Our time in the word is not something to just check-off our lists. David Mathis describes it as an opportunity to not only hear the voice of God but to receive true strength for our time of need. He states, “[The Holy Spirit] loves to strengthen human souls in obvious and subtle ways as they encounter God’s word—whether that Word is the incarnate Christ, the gospel word of salvation for sinners, or the written word in the scriptures” (p. 52).
Moms will walk away from Habits of Grace understanding the value of reading or listening to big chunks of the Bible, studying smaller passages in-depth, memorizing the mind of God, and relishing the meal of God’s word through meditation, which Mathis underlines as “the non-negotiable habit of grace to practice every day” (p. 72).
To Revel in Having His Ear
It’s easy to feel alone in the trenches of motherhood. In his chapter on prayer, David Mathis reminds us that prayer is more about having God’s ear than it is about a particular practice or petitioning for his gifts.
“Without prayer,” Mathis asserts, “there is no true relationship with him and no deep delight in who he is, but only glimpses from afar” (p. 107).
I can think of nothing more integral to a mother’s daily walk with Jesus than the knowledge that her Creator, Savior, King, and Mighty Helper—the holy God of the universe—is with her, loving her, flooding her with grace, and holding her and her family together. David Mathis teaches us that prayer is the way to keep that sweet knowledge before us. As we practice a lifestyle of prayer our relationship with God can change from hypothetical to real and personal.
Private prayer will be the most applicable practice for us, for it allows us to “go consciously godward in the car, waiting in line, as we walk, before a meal, in the midst of difficult conversation, and in anything else” (p. 108), but Mathis also commends praying with others, journaling, practicing silence and solitude, and fasting when able.
To Renew A Commitment to Belonging to His Body
Moms often have the perfect excuse for forsaking an opportunity to be with other believers. Worn out and discouraged after an arduous day with the littles, we can believe that getting the kids to sleep on time and having a moment to ourselves is what we really need. Yet when we are with his people, our spiritual kin, we often remember what matters most and receive hope for tomorrow. It’s here that God can invigorate us to lay our lives down again for the sake of his mission and glory.
In his chapter on belonging to God’s body, David Mathis puts it this way: “Fellowship may be the often forgotten middle child of the spiritual disciplines, but she may save your life in the dark night of the soul. As you pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and the Shepherd comforts you with his staff, you will discover that he has fashioned his people to act as his rod of rescue” (p. 148).
According to Mathis, fellowship also pulls us out of a preoccupation with ourselves and our troubles, reminding us that there are other people struggling through difficult seasons. There are other people at their wit's end, and these people are also looking to Christ for everything they need.
A Guide for Mothers
A tear escaped my eye as I read the last sentence of his book, “You can commune with Christ on the crazy days” (p. 223). Why did I cry? I was reminded that motherhood does not rob me of the joy of knowing and enjoying Jesus, nor does it rob this joy from my friends.
We can spend time in the word in a way that fits the daily rhythms of our lives. We can pray, and we can fellowship with other believers.
The Bible doesn’t complicate the pursuit of God. Neither should we. David Mathis has written a guide that’s good for moms everywhere, a primer steeped in grace.
 Mathis, David. Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus Through the Spiritual Disciplines. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016.
Laura Hardin and her husband, Adam, reside in Landover, MD with their three little ones, Oscar Laurielle, and Julia. She enjoys writing for her personal blog, where she encourages women to abide in Christ by committing themselves to the word of God, prayer, and fellowship one day at a time. Find her on Instagram or Facebook.