"The Prayers Really Worked"

I'd been smoking since I was 16 years old. How could the craving have just stopped overnight?

By Doug Stinson, Hernando, Florida

As appeared in

I started smoking at age 16. With my Zippo and my Lucky Strikes, I thought I was pretty cool. But after years of smoking two packs a day, I wanted to quit.

I must have tried to kick the habit 50 times. A few days would go by, the cravings would set in and I'd reach for a cigarette. I married a wonderful woman and had five great kids. There were a lot of reasons not to be shaving years off my life. My oldest daughter, Maureen, begged me to stop. But still I couldn't—not even for her.

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Then my doctor told me I needed a hernia operation. I can't smoke in a hospital, I thought. I won't be able to light up even if I want to. My wife and kids waited with me at the hospital. Before the orderlies wheeled me off, Maureen grabbed my hand. "Dad, I'm going to pray that you'll be okay."

"Don't worry, Sweetie," I said, looking into her eyes. "It's routine surgery. And guess what? When I get out of the hospital, no more cigarettes. I promise." That put a smile on her face.

I woke up from the operation feeling cold and disoriented. My abdomen was sore, my mouth was dry. But I did not crave a cigarette. The pain must be taking my mind off smoking.

I got through my whole hospital stay without a craving. The first day home I found a pack of cigarettes in a jacket pocket. Not even tempted. I threw it in the trash. Weeks went by, and my recovery was going well. Still no cravings. I wasn't struggling. What was it about this time? Was it that simple promise to Maureen? Two months after my hernia surgery, she took me aside after Sunday dinner. "Isn't it wonderful, Dad? The prayers really worked."

"I know, Honey. I'm good as new."

"Not just that, Dad," Maureen said. "After you went into the operating room, I prayed you wouldn't want to smoke anymore. I knew God would help you keep your promise."