The Prayer That Rescued Her from the Rapids

Dottie Pratchard recalls a harrowing close call she experienced while rafting down the South Fork of the American River and the prayer that changed everything for her.


Dottie Pratchard: We went rafting down the South Fork of the American River in California, in El Dorado County in Gold Country. And we were on a gentle part of the river where it was the buzz of the dragonflies and just the sounds of the river. It was really nice and tranquil.

The gentleman next to me stood up in the raft and had told the guide that there was a rock like six inches below the raft and plopped down on his seat and launched me in the river.

The first thing was I was shocked at how cold it was and I was also shocked at the current, at how strong the current was. My foot got wedged between two boulders and I could hear my son saying, "Back paddle! My mom's in the water!" And somebody else was saying, "She's disoriented!"

I wasn't disoriented; I was just trying to free my foot. I got it free, but the current caught me and was pulling me away from the boats. And I started to panic a little bit when I heard somebody say, "She's getting close to Meatgrinder!" And I'm, like, "Meatgrinder??"

Other rafting companies were starting to go by, and one reached out a paddle for me to grasp ahold of, but my hands were so cold and so frozen, I couldn't grasp it, and so as I went to grab ahold of it, I kind of lost grip and they just ended up going right over the top of me and pushing me into a rock, right by Meatgrinder, and I got stuck underwater between two boulders.

I was getting colder and exhausted and it was only moments—probably seconds—but it seemed like it was forever. My life was flashing before my eyes. I was thinking about my family and thinking about what it would be like to miss my kids' graduation and their wedding and things like that, and I got a point where I just said, "Lord, I give up and I'm ready, if this is what you want, if you want to take me." 

At that moment, when I surrendered, I popped up and I just floated very gently and safely right through Meatgrinder. The rest of my group was there and they just pulled me in the boat, and we made it back here to Camp Lotus for the evening and just kind of reflected on what happened that day, what the Lord wa speaking to my heart. 

I just felt like the Lord had told me that I had let things, the cares of the world kind of cloud my thinking and my life, and that I had put Him on a back burner and my family and that I needed to spend more time with Him, sitting at his feet, and just being with my family and enjoying them and loving them, because they were gifts from the Lord.

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