By Rick Hamlin
Saturday morning the messages came in: “Urgent prayers,” “pray now!,” “Need your prayers.” Email messages and posts on Facebook alerted me that Logan Eliasen, the 20-year-old son of one of our Guideposts writers, Shawnelle Eliasen, was stuck in an Iowa cave. By then he’d been trapped for a dozen hours.
Ugh, I thought, how awful. Not just because I’m claustrophobic and can’t bear being in the window seat of an airplane, let alone countenance the thought of being motionless in a dark cave; I couldn’t imagine a scarier situation for a parent. To know your kid is in trouble, to have first responders working to keep him alive with food and water, and yet knowing you can’t do much more but pray.
“Prayers for Logan,” I typed. “Keep me posted.” Typing a prayer feels as good as saying one. Something tactile about it, as though God is getting my message from my words as well as my fingers hitting the keys.
All morning I kept checking Facebook and Google, searching for news. The rescue workers were chiseling at the rock to widen the passage. Meanwhile Logan was getting oxygen and an IV drip to keep from getting dehydrated. Does instant knowledge make for better prayers? Is Facebook really a help? Who knows? I’m certain that urgent situations make for more focused praying. When you get that message “Pray now!,” how can you not respond?
He’ll be OK, I started telling myself. I’ve never met Logan but I know from what his folks say that he’s got an active faith and I knew that he’d be using it. My fears started fading. Faith had stepped up to the plate.
Throughout the day, as I checked, I thought about how no one ever expected Facebook or Google to be used for prayer, but here we were all praying online, friends of friends I’d never met. That’s what happens when a praying people get a chance to communicate. Prayer connects us to each other as much as it connects us to God and we do it how we can.
“Remember the 20-year-old kid trapped in a cave,” I said at grace that night. We had friends over for dinner.
Just before bed, I logged on again. “Good news!” I said to my wife. After 20 hours, Logan was rescued and taken to the hospital. From all reports, he sounded like he was OK. (Today his mom emailed me to say, “We kept him quiet and still while he was in the hospital but now he’s talking with a local news station. He wanted to give God the glory.”) In an interview he gave after recovering, Logan said, “I prayed through the whole thing. That’s the only thing that really kept me going.”
“Urgent prayers.” “Pray now!” Those are phrases that can give me a chill. But they’re all about keeping in touch. They mean exactly what they say: “You have a job to do. You’re a first responder too. Get working.” I do.