The Morning Prayer That Helped Her Survive Captivity

Kathryn Koob, one of 52 Americans taken hostage in Iran on November 4, 1979, shares how her faith helped her endure the 444-day ordeal.

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Former Iran hostage Kathryn Koob

When we Americans were first taken hostage in Iran, we were terrified. We didn’t know who our captors were, or what their demands would be. What were they going to do with us? Outside the embassy compound, the rage of the crowd added to the ugly atmosphere. Their screaming would go on until two in the morning, then start up again at six a.m.—mobs of people yelling their hatred, their triumph, their anger.

One time after I’d fallen asleep, I was awakened by the distinct impression that someone had sat down on my bed. I turned over quickly, expecting to see one of my guards. But no one was there. Instantly, I was reminded of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. And with the sense of His presence came a very real knowledge that I had a source of strength that the students and mobs didn’t have.

Celebrating Guideposts' 75th AnniversaryThen a hymn came into my mind, one I’d learned way back when I was a freshman in high school: “Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the potter; I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, while I am waiting, yielded and still.”

How those words spoke to me! I knew I couldn’t do anything to change my situation as a political prisoner. But when I accepted that fact, I could say, “Okay, Lord, here I am. I don’t know what’s going to happen in this situation. But use me. While I am waiting, yielded and still.

As a diplomat, I was especially aware that my government could not give in to terrorists’ demands in order to free us. I told my guards, “We may be here for the next fifteen years! And my job is to sit here and wait.”

They couldn’t believe I could take that attitude. But I did, and I set about ordering my morning hours in a kind of contemplative system for myself—Bible studies, prayer and meditation, reading.

I developed a morning prayer that went like this: “Thank You, Lord, for bringing me through the night. Thank You for giving me today. I give it back to You. Show me what You would have me do with it.”

There were a lot of days when it seemed He wasn’t having me do anything. But He was. He was teaching me to love, He was teaching me to accept, He was teaching me to try to be open to new ideas and to new understanding.

And that’s something that can happen in anyone’s life, in your life, if you let yourself be open to His will—if you are “waiting, yielded and still.”

This story first appeared in the July 1982 issue of Guideposts magazine.

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