At the age of eight I prayed to the crucifix above my bed to make my mentally ill daddy better. I believed that together God and I could fix him.
Thirty four years later with my dad finally well, floating in the after world, dead from this world for almost eight years, I taught my now eight year old daughter a completely different type of prayer.
She had been having horrible nightmares, waking us in tears, during the night. Would you like me to say a prayer with you? I asked her one night. Yeah, let’s pray for my bad dreams to go away. So lying on her bed together I had her repeat my words. Good and Gracious God, thank you for blessing me with a peaceful night sleep and for protecting me from bad dreams…Amen.
Not pleading, not wordy just grateful words filled with faith.
In the morning she came busting into our bedroom. Mama, mama the prayer worked. That night she wanted me to “say the prayer” with her again. Part of me worried about the bad dreams returning and the other part of me was so grateful she was no longer afraid to go to sleep.
My dad lived most of his life in darkness. He prayed for hours on end, read the Bible, and died at the age of 75 in peace but still depressed. His last six months of life when I would visit him in the nursing home he would ask me to pray with him and ask me to ask God to take him from this world, soon. I felt funny at first, but all I wanted for my dad was to be at peace and it was clear it wasn’t going to happen in this world. So after my words he would say, Amen, and thank me with a hug or a tight hand squeeze.
When the nursing home called one summer morning to tell me dad died peacefully in his sleep, I felt like my prayers, the prayers I started when I was eight years old, were answered.
We don’t know how, we don’t know when, but if we are consistent we will notice God is consistent too, just on a time schedule completely out of our hands but oh, so much wiser than our own.
by J.G. McGlothern