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A Birthday Wish

A little boy teaches his mother a wonderful lesson about what prayer can do.

By Karen Barnett, Albany, Oregon

As appeared in

Andrew, my 4-year-old, knelt by his bed.

“Dear God, thank you for this day and please don’t let me have any nightmares,” he said. “And please let my friend Eden come to my birthday party.”

“Sweetie, Eden’s new house is hundreds of miles away,” I said, pulling the covers over Andrew and kissing his forehead. “That’s much too far to come to your party.”

“But, Mom,” Andrew said, looking at me as if I just didn’t understand how life worked, “I prayed she would come!”

I was the last person on earth to tell anyone about prayer. I kept my own prayers strictly on the safe side. Nothing big. Nothing extraordinary. Let the kids have a good day. Keep us safe in the car. Help the baby stop crying. I figured if I kept my expectations low, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

Andrew had no such rules. He couldn’t imagine turning 5 without his best friend. I had shown Andrew on a map just how far away Eden lived.

He handed me an invitation with her name on it. I slipped it into my purse. There was no point in mailing it.

“What kind of cake should I make for Saturday?” I asked, hoping to get him thinking about things that were actually possible.

“A purple butterfly,” said Andrew. “Eden loves butterflies—and purple is her favorite color.”

Thursday evening, the phone rang. It was Eden’s mother. “Eden and I are in town this weekend. We’d like to stop by. Are you busy on Saturday?”

I couldn’t wait to surprise Andrew. When Eden showed up on Saturday right on time for the party, I grabbed my camera to get a shot of Andrew’s face. But Andrew wasn’t surprised at all! He welcomed her just like he did his other friends. Then they both ran to play video games.

That’s when I realized the surprise wasn’t for my son, but for me. It was my faith that needed shoring up, my prayers that needed to grow.

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“Wasn’t it amazing that Eden came all that way to be at your party?” I asked Andrew later.

Andrew looked at me and grinned. “Mom, I prayed!”