Elbasan Starck’s Motherhood Prayers offers comforting prayers for expectant and new mothers. Written in German in the 18th century by Lutheran pastor Johann Friedrich Starck (as part of the larger volume, Starck’s Prayer Book), this book is now available as a free download here on our website.
As Rebekah Curtis describes in her thoughtful review, “The book is set up as a series of exhortations, prayers, and hymns. It begins with a general devotion and goes on to cover different angles on parturition such as Manresa The Woman With Child Reflects on Her God-Pleasing State; Commends Herself and Her Child To God; Thanks God For Her Fruitfulness; Takes Comfort in the Thought That God Will Help Her; etc. Next is a long section of Meditations for Labor, including Scripture, prayers and ‘sighings.’ Then there are meditations for confinement, including prayers for the child at its baptism, the woman’s churching, the weaning of the child, etc.” As Curtis further explains in the Introduction to Emmanuel Press’s edition, the Motherhood Prayers “will teach you how to speak God’s own Word back to Him, which is the truest, most edifying prayer. They will comfort you as you pray them because they are saturated with that Word, which is God’s gift to us.”
It is inevitable that one may question the relevance of such prayers, written in antiquated language for a woman many generations before. Yet through the beauty of carefully-crafted meditations interwoven with Scripture and hymns, Starck reminds all of us –not only expectant mothers – that children are not merely a product of nature but are a gift from God Himself. All who believe that life begins at conception will benefit from these prayers, marvel at the miracle of life, and be strengthened to support and encourage other women, whether they be our daughters, sisters, friends, or family. What a treasure for an expectant mother during her time of pregnancy, labor and delivery, and the enigmatic haze of the weeks to follow.
These prayers help give voice to a mother’s faith when her own words falter, when she needs to hear that God will grant her peace and perseverance and will not abandon her in her hour of pain and sleeplessness. It is no coincidence that the longest portion of prayers in this book is for women in labor, an especially trying time when words of comfort and mercy are most needed. Starck reminds us that it is God in His mercy and grace who permits a mother to rise in good health in the morning, to keep her mind upon Him throughout the day, and to commend herself and the fruit of her womb to God at every hour of the day.