Prayer That Comforts a Parent's Heart

Prayer That Comforts a Parent's Heart

I wish I could figure out how to pray my way through this one , I thought.

Rick Hamlin, executive editor of Guideposts magazine.

We are labourers together with God. 1 Corinthians 3:9

William got up before dawn to catch his flight. I heard our son hoist his bags, the front door opened and closed, and then I heard him drop the keys through the mail slot, following instructions his mother had left on a note. I hated to hear him go. He's twenty-three years old , I told myself. We'd had a great visit with him. Why feel so sad?

But the ache was still there at breakfast before I did the chores. I wish I could figure out how to pray my way through this one , I thought. When would we see him again? In another three or six months? It seemed a lifetime. He lived two thousand miles away.

I went into his room and took the old stuffed animals off his bed, stripped his sheets and picked up his towel. In some ways, he still was a child. Independent, with a great job, a nice set of friends and a damp towel on the floor. I gathered everything up and put it in the washer.

I noticed the books on his shelves, the ones we read to him and the ones he read. The progression from Goodnight Moon to Infinite Jest , from Dr. Seuss to Malcolm Gladwell went so fast, but wasn't that what we would have wanted?

It's a good thing , I thought. Soon I would e-mail him some article I'd seen, and he'd forward something he'd read. We were lucky to be able to stay connected through e-mails and texts and phone calls. I spread the clean sheets over the bunk bed, throwing the stuffed animals back to their berth. Thank God , I thought, he hasn't completely outgrown them .

There it was. The prayer I'd been looking for. It had been with me in cleaning the room, doing the laundry, making the bed. The ache had lifted into a sort of gratitude. “To work is to pray” is an ancient monastic saying. I slipped the clean pillowcase on his pillow, thankful for the years, looking forward to the ones ahead.

Give me work, Lord, that lets me pray.

Digging Deeper: 1 Sam. 1:26–28; John 14:12; 1 John 3:1