What Prayer Can Do: Don't Be Afraid to Ask

It's not always easy to share our burdens, but doing so honors those we turn to.

By Rick Hamlin, New York, New York

I was sitting in church with my mom, the front pew on the left where she and my dad always sat. But Dad wasn’t there—he’d just been moved to a nursing facility. At the beginning of the service the minister read the names of people who needed prayer.

My eyes half-closed, I listened. This was the church where I grew up, the place where Mom and Dad had worshipped for over 50 years. I could picture Dad bellowing the hymns. I thought of all those years he’d been an usher, wearing one of his signature bow ties.

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More recently he’d come to church with a walker and nod off during the sermon, but he always showed up. I could even imagine him praying right now.

Lord, I prayed, we’re grateful for the care Dad’s getting. He seems comfortable and happy in his new home. But we need you to be with him and be with us.

Only when all the names had been read did it dawn on me: Dad wasn’t on the list. “Amen,” we said. I looked questioningly at Mom.

“I didn’t want to bother anybody,” she whispered. “There are so many people who have bigger needs.”

I understood her hesitation, but I wanted to tell her how grateful I am when someone e-mails, calls, posts on Facebook, lets me know somehow he or she needs prayer.

They’re giving me a call to action, a chance to reach out and reach up. If they didn’t say anything, how would I know how to help?

Every night of my childhood when Dad said grace he mentioned the names of people needing prayer. Now it was his turn. “We’re putting Dad on that list,” I told Mom after the service. “People will want to know.”

“You think so?”

“I know so.”

For the last few months of Dad’s life, we got plenty of support. People knew what we needed. When you ask for help, you make yourself open to receiving it— from heaven and earth. I shouldn’t have been surprised. That’s the kind of thing Dad knew all along.

If you have a need, let us know. Visit OurPrayer.org.