Many mothers find themselves yearning to share spiritual themes with their friends and their families. During the first year of motherhood, praying with others can be an enormous pressure valve and source of inspiration (not to mention an act of service) and Radiant Hearts can be a resource to help do this.
If you have a baby (under one year old) you may like to consider hosting a Mothers Devotional which is mainly focused on sharing prayers and quotations with your friends while the babies sleep/play/feed nearby. This page will share some ideas for how to go about starting such an event.
To read about other Acts of Service using the Radiant Hearts materials click here.
When to Start
While babies are immobile, it is usually relatively easy (believe it or not) to have a Mothers Devotional. Babies are sleeping, nursing, or quietly playing most of the time, and if a baby is crying that is totally fine too as all the mothers present would completely understand. In the midst of having your first baby, it can seem daunting to host other people on a regular basis. You may ask yourself questions about how you’ll get the house clean in time, if you’ll be able to even have a shower that morning, or what if you are totally sleep deprived from an up-every-hour-sleep the night before. However it will never get “easier”: the challenges will merely change as your child grows. Hosting a devotional while you have a baby is not for everyone, but if you are thinking that this may be something you would like to try, it may be worth a shot. (Also, cut yourself some slack by not holding yourself up to unreasonable standards of cleanliness and try to prepare ahead of time such as having a shower the night before and going to bed extra early the night before if possible…)
After babies get to the crawling and taking steps stages, as long as there is an enclosed room, hosting a Mothers Devotional is still quite feasible. Before the talking stage (or around 18 months when your baby is making many more speech-like sounds), you can enjoy the “quiet time” you have to share prayers and spiritually themed discussion with your friends – so take advantage of this stage of parenthood before it passes. Otherwise if your child is one or two (or three or four) you may like to check out our Baha’i Playgroup or Baha’i Preschool Class pages which focus more on sharing prayers and spiritual qualities directly with the children (as they are the ones requiring more attention at those ages!).
Sharing prayers and spiritual discussion may seem foreign or a bit nerve-provoking to some mothers. In this day and age, there are so many practical topics mothers talk about (diapering, sleep, finger foods, milestones, etc) that you may wonder “Who actually wants to sit down for prayers?”
You will likely find, however, that friendships will be deepened through having prayers and purposeful discussion together, and your friends will probably respond positively to this. And you will likely feel strengthened yourself with spiritual energy from performing the service of sharing devotions with others, even more than you will feel exhausted from hosting the event. It may be “different” than the traditional playdates of our era but, as it’s one of the Core Activities of the Five Year Plan, it is definitely a path of service worth considering if you are at all inclined.
Here is a possible way to invite friends: “I’m starting a Mothers Devotional, which is basically having some of my mother friends and their babies over to my house to share prayers and inspirational writings. We’ll start the gathering with some prayers put to music and then I’ll have prepared some short selections from the Writings from my Faith, the Baha’i Faith, centered on a spiritual quality or virtue such as courage or peacefulness which we can read together. It shouldn’t last more than 15-20 minutes and of course throughout this time we’ll all be free to do whatever we need to do with our babies, if they need to be fed or walked around or anything. We can have some treats and discussion after the prayers and readings. I’ve been focusing on learning about and practicing on virtue a month and it’s been very helpful for my sense of well-being and motivation throughout the day, and I’d love to share more of these uplifting thoughts with my friends so we can all learn from each other. I hope you will join me, I think it will become a part of the week we will all look forward to!”
Welcome everyone to the devotional and share what theme the devotions will be centered on. You may like to play some calming music for a few minutes of meditation as everyone is arriving and getting settled.
Many devotionals start with a few prayers to set a spiritual atmosphere (singing the prayer from the Radiant Hearts lesson is an idea, especially if you are working to memorize it; you may even like to have the words available should your friends like to join in) or playing some musical prayers and selections from a CD (check our Music page for recommendations). You may also like to pass around some prayer books for people to use should they wish to. Some mothers also like to invite their friends ahead of time to bring an inspirational reading or poem of their choice, regardless of what religious background it is from.
Another idea is for mothers to have the opportunity to request prayers for certain people or particular things. Even saying the name of your child and something you’d love them to have in their life can be nice. Going around the circle and letting each person share what they request prayers for can be a routine that gets everyone involved.
Experiment with different ways to begin the devotional. You may find that each devotional is different, or that your group likes a particular way of going about things. Regardless of how you do it, setting an uplifting atmosphere will go a long way in making the event enjoyable and memorable for all.
Each Radiant Hearts lesson contains a set of 6 short quotations about a spiritual quality. As they have been selected to be appropriate for young children, they are short and probably suitable for a varied audience.
Consider a few options for the devotions:
- Printing the Devotional page for each mother (page 2 of the Printables) so they can follow along and take home with them to refer to throughout the week
- Printing one copy of the Devotional, cutting it into the 6 readings, and then handing them out for people to read
- Preparing the devotions ahead of time by cutting them out and pasting them on colored or decorative paper. These can either be given to the readers or collected for use at another devotional at a later date. If you will be repeating the devotions for a few weeks in a row (some groups may like to concentrate on the same spiritual quality for a few sessions) this may be a preferred choice.
After the Program
After the formal devotions, here are some ideas:
- Use the “Getting Started” page (the first page in the Basic Lesson document) to inspire meaningful conversation. Each of these pages contains a different quotation from the Writings about the education of children and/or the role of mothers, as well as questions for parents to think about how they are exhibiting the virtue and how they would like to work on practicing it more.
- Choose a question or two from the Mother Moments Game, a free printable you can download from this post.
- Share snacks and drinks. Each person can bring a plate to share or the host can prepare the refreshments.
Having a weekly meeting creates a sense of routine and is also easy for people to remember, however if you are worried about sustainability you may like to consider hosting your devotional every two weeks or even once a month. Just be sure to get the dates of the devotional to your friends way ahead of time, so they can mark it in their calendars. Setting a few months’ worth of dates may be useful, as well as sending out reminders via email or phone a day or two before the event.
Some mothers may like to share a meal (everyone brings a plate) while others may prefer the host to have prepared some simple refreshments. Don’t feel you have to put on a banquet or even make something homemade. A plate of fruit or a bowl of nuts or dried fruit is always a welcome treat. If you plan to bake something, you may even like to stash a box or package of store-bought goodies in your top shelf, for those “just in case” days when you think you may not get around to making what you planned. Being well-prepared (and having a back-up plan) will decrease stress and allow you to enjoy preparing for the event, without worrying so much about if you don’t have the time or energy to follow a recipe on the needed day.
As Time Passes
As your babies get to be one year olds and demand more attention, you may like to transition into a Baha’i Playgroup which focuses more on sharing Baha’i prayers and quotations (plus other music) with the children. Check this page for details.
What experiences you have had and learnings you have gained from hosting Mothers Devotionals? Please share in the comment section below!