Look Forward in Prayer
The one prayer God never answers is “Please, let nothing change.”
He shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. Isaiah 53:2
There’s an old patch of wood that we keep unpainted in our back room near the storage cabinets. The dates and names start at the bottom, a little more than three feet above the ground, in childish handwriting.
The writing becomes more secure when the names rise higher, and it’s positively mature well above five feet. There’s William on 9-12-99 and then William a foot higher on 5-10-03. Timothy seems to make the same rapid progress a little behind his older brother.
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Mom and Dad never seem to change. I never rise above five feet eleven inches, but the boys leapfrog over each other until you see them leap above their mother—a strong black line to mark the milestone—and then they rise above their father, leaving him in the dust.
Then the writing stops—no more updates; no need for more. But the old marks are still there, and I can glance at them when I’m getting down the gardening shears or looking for a screwdriver.
My friend Tib reminds me that the one prayer God never answers is “Please, let nothing change.” When I cling too tightly to the past, I can look at this record of how the boys grew until they towered over me.
So many answers to prayer in indelible ink. Someday we’ll have to move from this home, but I hope the new owners can make their own marks of progress along the wood.
Lord, let me look forward, always remembering the love that has been with me all along.
Known by millions as the executive editor of Guideposts magazine, Rick Hamlin has written several books including Reading Between the Lines, his memoir Finding God on the A Train, and several novels. A contributor to Daily Guideposts since 1985 and an active blogger about prayer at guideposts.org, Rick currently lives in New York City with his wife, Carol. This article is excerpted from his new book, 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without: How to Talk to God About Anything (Guideposts Books 2013).