If there is prayer, there is a mother kneeling, hands folded to a private sign. We recognize it. If there is a mother kneeling, hands a tent, she is praying or she is crying or crying and praying at the same time. Although it is recognized, the signals of it, it is private and no one knows, perhaps not even she, the content of the prayer, and perhaps its object. If there is a mother praying, she is on her knees over some object, as one does not often pray in the middle of the room. One prays at the window or over the bed, the head bent slightly up or down, the eyes open or closed. This is a prayer for prayers, you know, a wanting something equal to a prayer, even though I am not a mother.
--Disciplines by Dawn Lundy Martin
Before I had a child, when I had the luxury to spend my time deconstructing and analyzing theology, I worked through and digested the baggage around prayer acquired from my Catholic upbringing. The very word sat badly with me at first, reminding me of churchgoers begging forgiveness for sinfulness or making endless petitions. At worst, these kinds of prayers felt transactional, something I wish to avoid within my own sacred relationships. As a childfree pagan going through a reactionary phase, while I would do formal magick on my own behalf, I made a bit of a point of only doing prayers of devotion when outside of a Circle.
Now, as a mother, I pray constantly. Despite my personal opinion that the the collective host of non-corporeal/energetic Powers are beings with whom we enter into relationship, and thus should not be called on the psychic phone only when we need something, I find myself making petitions. It's my constant refrain, reflexive, in any moment when I feel particularly aware of how precious and ephemeral I find my daughter: let her be safe and well. This deepest wish of my heart has been a practice, has been part of my Ancestor relationship, and has been consistent since I discovered my pregnancy. Even when the offering bowls are dry, the candles are dusty, and the hymns unsung, I pray for her safety and wellbeing.
This isn't the way I wish to conduct my Alliances but with a toddler underfoot the only thing I can manage most days is the intention and the thought. Please, I pray, and then, thank you. I often feel bad about this, like I should be doing more, like I'm not holding up my end of my sacred relationships....