A child’s prayer
By Karen Harper
“Commit thy way unto the
Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5,
New Year’s Day, 1990. A knock
on the door awakened me early in the morning. When I saw my friend standing
on the front porch, my stomach clenched. I knew something was wrong.
“Karen, your mother couldn’t
get through to you on your phone, so she called me,” she said.
“What’s the matter?”
I asked, pulling my robe tighter around me.
She just looked at
me. A beat of the heart, and I knew. “It’s Daddy!
Isn’t it? Daddy’s
I had just talked to Mom the day
before, and Daddy was supposed to be going home from the hospital. His procedure
was fairly routine, and he was doing fine. Now I learned that he’d had
a massive heart attack during the night. In the rush of dressing and packing
for the trip back home, the realization hit me.
God, You didn’t answer
“Now I lay me
down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
God bless Mommy and Linda and Mikey and Patti.
And please save Daddy, so he can go to heaven with us.
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I prayed that prayer
nightly from the time I was 5 years old. Over the years, I added
things from time to time, but the basics stayed the same right
into my teen years when I started praying “homemade”
prayers. Even when I discarded my childhood “Now I lay me
down to sleep” prayer, one thing stayed the same —
the very first thing I ever remember asking God for — “Please,
save my dad.”
When I was around 24, the mother
of a 3-year-old son, I finally summoned the courage to address the issue face-to-face.
Well, not exactly face-to-face. I didn’t have that much nerve!
My dad was a very intimidating
man. During World War II at the age of 17, he enlisted in the Marines. Later,
he had a career in the Air Force, serving a stint as a drill instructor in
boot camp. He was not a Father Knows Best
kind of dad who gave lots of hugs and called me “Kitten.”
I was much too scared of Daddy
to have a sit-down conversation about his relationship (or lack of one) with
God. So I took a different route. I wrote him a letter.
After expressing the things I admired
and appreciated about him, I told Daddy that I had missed him being in church
with us when I was growing up. Then I alluded to my desire to see my little
boy’s grandpa make arrangements to spend eternity with his family. Daddy
appreciated my letter and responded favorably. (In fact, I later found out
that he saved the letter and put it in one of the family picture albums.)
But he made no reference to eternal matters.
However, my mother shared something
with me. When I was around 5 years old, some friends were praying with Mom
one evening after church for Daddy to be saved. The Lord spoke to Mom’s
heart, assuring her that as she lived a faithful life for God she would be
blessed to see her husband saved one day. Knowing God’s faithfulness,
Mom had stood on that promise ever since. Her story bolstered my faith, too,
as I continued to pray for my father.
Now here we were 34 years after
Mom had received her assurance, 34 years after a little girl started praying
for her daddy, and what were we doing? Making funeral arrangements, receiving
visitors and helping all the grandchildren put their little farewell notes
into the casket with their grandpa. All I could think was, God, You didn’t
answer my prayer!
The day before Daddy’s funeral,
Mom sat on the couch beside me. “Karen,” she said, “Brother
McKay came to see me today.” (He was a retired minister who attended
Mom’s church.) “He told me that he visited your daddy in the hospital
after I left the other night.”
Apparently, they talked about the
Lord, and before Brother McKay left Daddy prayed the sinner’s prayer
and gave his heart to God!
At Mom’s request, we children,
our spouses and the older grandchildren sang her favorite song and taped it
to be played at Daddy’s funeral. Heavy-hearted, I sat in the funeral
chapel, clasping my husband’s hand, and listened as the recorded song
The words thrilled me as the healing
balm of peace flooded my soul.
“Great is Thy faithfulness,
O God my Father … great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.”
And all I could think was, Thank
You, God! You answered my prayer!
Harper DeLoach lives in Statesboro, Ga.
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