During World War II, a US Marine was separated from his unit on a Pacific island. The fighting had been intense, and in the smoke and the crossfire, he had lost touch with his comrades.
Alone in the jungle, he could hear enemy soldiers coming in his direction. Scrambling for cover, he found his way up a high ridge to several small caves in the rock. Quickly he crawled inside one of the caves. Although safe for the moment, he realized that once the enemy soldiers looking for him swept up the ridge, they would quickly search all the caves and he would be killed. As he waited, he prayed, “Lord, if it be your will, please protect me. Whatever your will though, I love you and trust you. Amen.”
After praying, he lay quietly listening to the enemy begin to draw close. He thought, “Well, I guess the Lord isn’t going to help me out of this one.”
Just then he saw a spider begin to build a web over the front of his cave. As he watched, listening to the enemy searching for him all the while, the spider layered strand after strand of web across the opening of the cave.
“Hah” he thought, “what I need is a brick wall and what the Lord has sent me is a spider web. God does have a sense of humor.”
As the enemy drew closer he watched from the darkness of his hideout and could see them searching one cave after another. As they came to his, he got ready to make his last stand. To his amazement, however, after glancing in the direction of his cave, they moved on.
Suddenly, he realized that with the spider web over the entrance, his cave looked as if no one had entered it for quite a while.
“Lord, forgive me,” prayed the young man, “I had forgotten that in you a spider’s web is stronger than a brick wall.”
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways.
As the great leader, Nehemiah, reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, “In God we will have success!” [Nehemiah 2:20]
Remember: Whatever is happening in your life, with God, a mere spider’s web can become a brick wall of protection. Trust and believe that He is with you always. Just ask for his help and you will see His great power and love for you.
This is a beautiful reminder of how we can pray each day and itis surely worth making our 5 fingers a part of our lives. It is my hope that the “Five Finger Prayer” will be something that will help your own prayer life each day!
1. Your thumb is nearest you. So begin your prayers by praying for thoseclosest to you. They are the easiest to remember. To pray for our lovedones is, as C. S. Lewis once said, a “sweet duty.”
2. The next finger is the pointing finger. Pray for those who teach,instruct and heal. This includes teachers, doctors, and ministers. Theyneed support and wisdom in pointing others in the right direction. Keepthem in your prayers.
3. The next finger is the tallest finger. It reminds us of our leaders.Pray for the president, leaders in business and industry, andadministrators. These people shape our nation and guide public opinion.They need God’s guidance.
4. The fourth finger is our ring finger. Surprising to many is the fact thatis our weakest finger, as any piano teacher will testify. It shouldremind us to pray for those who are weak, trouble or in pain. They needprayers day and night. You cannot pray too much for them.
5. And lastly comes our little finger, the pinkie. The smallest finger of all which iswhere we should place ourselvesin relation to God and others. As the Biblesays, “The least shall be the greatest among you.” Your pinkie shouldremind you to pray for yourself. By the time you have prayed for the otherfour groups, your own needs will be put into proper perspective and youwill be able to pray for yourself more effectively.
This is a story that took place in the south and involved a little boy and his mom. It shows us the sad side of war and reactions that a family endured at the loss of their loved one. Get a box of tissues ready as you read this story of a little boys love of rhis mom and dad.
Tommy’s Maw Maw and Pappy used to take Tommy to church every Sunday before his Pappy left to go to war.
Tommy had learned early in life all about God and how to pray. Every night Tommy would kneel by his bed and pray before going to sleep.
Today is the day the soldiers are to come home. Tommy and his Maw Maw dressed and went and stood at the dock waiting for his Pappy to arrive. They would wait and wait… Until the last boat left the dock but Tommy’s Pappy would not be arriving this day.
When they got home Tommy was too tired to care about eating. He kissed his grand mother goodnight and went straight to his room. He changed into his pajamas and knelt by his bed.
We stood at the dock all day. Every one walked away and we just stood there. Pappy must have missed the boat so we waited for the next one then the next one until all the boats were gone and the tall man in the uniform said all the soldiers had gotten off but he is wrong ’cause Lord, Pappy didn’t get off none of those boats. I hate it when maw maw cries Lord. Please send Pappy home so she will stop crying.
All week long Tommy listened as his Maw Maw cried. He heard her on the phone several times asking about why his Pappy didn’t come home like the rest of the soldiers. On the seventh night he knelt by his bed and prayed.
It’s Tommy .
It has been a long week. Maw Maw just sits and stares out the window when she ain’t cooking and cleaning or on the phone asking where Pappy is and why they didn’t send him home.. She hasn’t hardly spoke in days other than when she is on the phone.
Mrs. Nelly Baker from down the road came by to see if Pappy had come home yet but he hasn’t and Maw Maw began to cry again as Mrs. Nelly Baker talked to her. I heard her say You might have Pappy with you Lord. If you do , could you please tell him it is time to come home ’cause Maw Maw and me miss him and Maw Maw cries at night and calls for him. I’d sure ‘preciate it if you would.
Slowly the days passed by, then weeks. Every day was more of the same. Tommy was worried about his Pappy and his Maw Maw. It had been a little over a month now and Pappy still hadn’t come home. He walked in the living room and there his Maw Maw sat staring out the window until a knock came upon the door. A man in a uniform stood at the door. He backed up and Maw Maw walked outside. His Grand Mother screamed falling to the ground. Then the women in the neighborhood came running.
Tommy was confused. Why was his Maw Maw screaming and crying Pappy was coming home finally. He felt heavy hearted, So he went and knelt by his bed and prayed.
It’s been a month and three days since Maw Maw and I went to meet Pappy at the dock. Some man in a uniform just showed up at Maw Maw’s door and made her scream. He ‘pologized for making her scream and cry before he left. Mrs. Nelly Baker and some other women came running . I guess they heard Maw Maw screaming before she fell to the ground.
I don’t understand Lord. Why is she so upset ? The man said Pappy would be coming home tomorrow with something in a pine box. Don’t know why he needs a box. I guess he lost his suitcase. I thank Lord for sending Pappy home.
Tommy didn’t know his Maw Maw stood silently by the door. She listened as the little boy of ten prayed through sobs.
It’s Tommy .
I un’ stand now. My Pappy came home today. I know all about the pine box now. I guess I forgot to ask for you to send him back to Maw Maw alive. I hope she will forgive me. I thought You knew what I meant when I asked you to bring my Pappy home. But you did do what I asked. I made a mess of things. Now my Maw Maw will never be happy again. Lord, the next time I ask for something make sure I ask the right way please and tell Pappy I am sorry I got him dead I didn’t mean to. It’s all my fault Maw Maw is sad. I am so sorry.
Tommy opened his tear stained eyes to see his Maw Maw standing in his doorway , tears streaming down her face. ” Dear child, it is not your fault.” She said through sobs and held her arms out to him. ” If it had not been for your prayers, your Pappy may never had come home at all.”
Every once on a while, I come across a story that renews my faith and encourages my soul. The following short story is a great example that shows us that when we TRULY have faith in God, our faith will be rewarded in amazing ways!!
A small congregation in the foothills of the Great Smokies built a new sanctuary on a piece of land willed to them by a church member. Ten days before the new church was to open, the local building inspector informed the pastor that the parking lot was inadequate for the size of the building. Until the church doubled the size of the parking lot, they would not be able to use the new sanctuary.
Unfortunately, the church with its undersized parking lot had used every inch of their land except for the mountain against which it had been built. In order to build more parking spaces, they would have to move the mountain out of the back yard.
Undaunted, the pastor announced the next Sunday morning that he would meet that evening with all members who had “mountain-moving faith”. They would hold a prayer session asking God to remove the mountain from the back yard and to somehow provide enough money to have it paved and painted before the scheduled opening dedication service the following week.
At the appointed time, 24 of the congregation’s 300 members assembled for prayer. They prayed for nearly three hours. At ten o’clock the pastor said the final “Amen”. “We’ll open next Sunday as scheduled,” he assured everyone. “God has never let us down before, and I believe He will be faithful this time too.”
The next morning as he was working in his study there came a loud knock at his door. When he called “come in”, a rough looking construction foreman appeared, removing his hard hat as he entered.
“Excuse me, Reverend. I’m from Acme Construction Company over in the next county. We’re building a huge new shopping mall over there and we need some fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? We’ll pay you for the dirt we remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge, if we can have it right away. We can’t do anything else until we get the dirt in and allow it to settle properly.”
The little church was dedicated the next Sunday as originally planned and there were far more members with “mountain-moving faith” on opening Sunday than there had been the previous week!
There are times in our lives that we wonder where God is when life gets hard. Sometimes it seems like God isn’t listening, doesn’t care, or is going to answer our prayers. The good news…He IS always there and ALWAYS working and comforting people…sometimes in ways that are unknown to us…as the following story so beautifully shows us.
A cold March wind danced around the dead of night in Dallas as the doctor walked into the small hospital room of Diana Blessing. She was still groggy from surgery.
Her husband, David, held her hand as they braced themselves for the latest news. That afternoon of March 10, 1991, complications had forced Diana, only 24-weeks pregnant, to undergo an emergency cesarean to deliver couple’s new daughter, Dana Lu Blessing.
At 12 inches long and weighing only one pound nine ounces, they already knew she was perilously premature. Still, the doctor’s soft words dropped like bombs.
“I don’t think she’s going to make it,” he said, as kindly as he could. “There’s only a 10-percent chance she will live through the night, and even then, if by some slim chance she does make it, her future could be a very cruel one.”
Numb with disbelief, David and Diana listened as the doctor described the devastating problems Dana would likely face if she survived. She would never walk, she would never talk, she would probably be blind, and she would certainly be prone to other catastrophic conditions from cerebral palsy to complete mental retardation, and on and on.
“No! No!” was all Diana could say.
She and David, with their 5-year-old son Dustin, had long dreamed of the day they would have a daughter to become a family of four. Now, within a matter of hours, that dream was slipping away.
As those first days passed, a new agony set in for David and Diana. Because Dana’s underdeveloped nervous system was essentially ‘raw’, the lightest kiss or caress only intensified her discomfort, so they couldn’t even cradle their tiny baby girl against their chests to offer the strength of their love. All they could do, as Dana struggled alone beneath the ultraviolet light in the tangle of tubes and wires, was to pray that God would stay close to their precious little girl.
There was never a moment when Dana suddenly grew stronger. But as the weeks went by, she did slowly gain an ounce of weight here and an ounce of strength there. At last, when Dana turned two months old, her parents were able to hold her in their arms for the very first time. And two months later, Dana went home from the hospital, just as her mother had predicted. Though doctors continued to gently but grimly warn that her chances of surviving, much less living any kind of normal life, were next to zero.
Five years later, Dana was a petite but feisty young girl with glittering gray eyes and an unquenchable zest for life. She showed no signs whatsoever of any mental or physical impairment. Simply, she was everything a little girl can be and more. But that happy ending is far from the end of her story.
One blistering afternoon in the summer of 1996 near her home in Irving, Texas, Dana was sitting in her mother’s lap in the bleachers of a local ball park where her brother Dustin’s baseball team was practicing. As always, Dana was chattering nonstop with her mother and several other adults sitting nearby when she suddenly fell silent. Hugging her arms across her chest, little Dana asked, “Do you smell that?”
Smelling the air and detecting the approach of a thunderstorm, Diana replied, “Yes, it smells like rain.”
Dana closed her eyes and again asked, “Do you smell that?”
Once again, her mother replied, “Yes, I think we’re about to get wet. It smells like rain.”
Still caught in the moment, Dana shook her head, patted her thin shoulders with her small hands and loudly announced, “No, it smells like Him. It smells like God does when you lay your head on His chest.”
Tears blurred Diana’s eyes as Dana happily hopped down to play with the other children.
Before the rains came, her daughter’s words confirmed what Diana and all the members of the extended Blessing family had known, at least in their hearts, all along. During those long days and nights of the first two months of her life, when her nerves were too sensitive for them to touch her, God was holding Dana on His chest and it was His loving scent that the little girl was remembering.
God is not a knife edge to carefully balance on lest one falls into the abyss. God is an infinite plain, no matter which way you fall, he catches you.
So often when we pray, we find ourselves trapped in a vicious circle. Because we ask for nothing in particular, our prayers bring no results. Because we don’t believe that anything will come from our praying anyway, we ask for nothing in particular. Hence, we live our lives saying only superficial prayer. The time has come for us to stop playing at prayer.
1. God won’t ask what kind of fancy car you drove. He will ask how many people you took to church who didn’t have transportation.
2. God won’t ask the square footage of your house. He will ask how many people you helped who didn’t have a house.
3. God won’t ask how many fancy clothes you had in your closet. He will ask how many of those clothes you gave away to the Salvation Army.
4. God won’t ask what social class you were in. He will ask what kind of “class” you displayed.
5. God won’t ask how many material possessions you had. He will ask whether those material possessions dictated your life.
6. God won’t ask what your highest salary was. He will ask if you trampled over any people to obtain that salary.
7. God won’t ask how much overtime you worked. He will ask did you work overtime for your family.
8. God won’t ask how many promotions you received. He will ask what you did to promote others.
9. God won’t ask what your job title was. He will ask did you perform your job to the best of your ability.
10. God won’t ask how many promotions you took to chase a peso bill He will ask how many promotions you refused to advance your family’s quality of life.
11. God won’t ask how many times you didn’t run around on your spouse. He will ask how many times you did.
12. God won’t ask how many degrees you had. He will ask how many people you thanked for helping you get those degrees.
13. God won’t ask what your parents did to help you. He will ask what you did to help your parents.
14. God won’t ask what you did to help yourself. He will ask what you did to help others.
15. God won’t ask how many friends you had. He will ask how many people you were a friend to.
16. God won’t ask what you did to protect your rights. He will ask what you did to protect the right of others.
17. God won’t ask what neighborhood you lived in. He will ask what other neighborhoods you visited.
18. God won’t ask how man times you told the truth. He will ask how many times you told a lie.
19. God won’t ask about the color of your skin. He will ask about the color of your heart.
20. God won’t ask how many times your deeds matched your words. He will ask how many times they didn’t.
A child’s faith is tested, but she learns she can talk to God about anything—even baseball.
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I would have given anything to take them back.
I looked at that youngster beside me in the car, pixie face eager beneath her baseball cap. Knowing just how much 10-year-old Erin missed her dad, wanting to do something special for her, I’d invited her to go with me that afternoon to watch the Giants play the Chicago Cubs at Candlestick Park.
I’d never seen a kid so excited. We’d been driving across the Bay Bridge when she suddenly piped up, “Maybe we’ll catch a foul ball!”
And like an idiot I’d said, “Well, honey, now that your dad’s in heaven, maybe he’ll mention that to God for you.”
Just a throw-away remark, but I saw that she took it seriously and I wanted to bite my tongue off. A child’s faith is tested enough when a parent dies without some dolt planting pipe dreams.
“You mean,” Erin asked in an awestruck voice, “you can talk to God even about baseball?”
I switched subjects fast, talked about some of the great times our two families had had together. We were like one family, really, next-door neighbors for 11 years, each couple with three kids the same ages, Craig and I close as brothers in spite of being so different.
It was our differences, in fact, that made the relationship so great. Craig could repair anything—electrical circuits, clogged plumbing. When my kids had a bike wheel come off, they wouldn’t waste time with me, they’d go straight to him.
As for me, sports were my thing, especially baseball. I’d gone to college on a baseball scholarship, been drafted by the California Angels to a minor-league contract right out of school. After four years I was aspiring to a spot in the major leagues when I damaged my rotator cuff. That ended my professional career, but not my love of the game.
We made a deal, Craig and I: Things that needed fixing, he’d do, coaching the kids was my job.
All six of them were great little athletes, but Erin was something else. Lots of speed, a pitcher’s concentration and a throwing arm every guy in her Little League division envied (she played on a boys’ team). It made a special bond between the two of us, all the more important in the six months since her dad’s death from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
I’d never forget his final words to me in the hospital room a few hours before the end. “Keep a watch over my kids, Steve.” As if he had to ask!
As we pulled into the parking lot at Candlestick, Erin chattered away, my thoughtless remark hopefully forgotten. Soon we were settled into our seats halfway between home plate and third base, Cracker Jack boxes in hand. The pitcher warmed up, and we prepared for our private contest.
When I first started taking kids to ball games I’d invented a way to pass the slow moments between pitches. Each of us would call out a guess as to what would happen. “High pop-up to right field!” Or, “Line drive to center!”
Ninety-nine percent of the guesses were wrong, of course, but when someone did predict correctly, he or she got a point toward an extra hot dog or a souvenir program. Erin was calling, “Swing and a miss on a curve ball!” unfazed by a score of zero.
It was a wonderful afternoon, a close game with some spectacular plays. Like the baseball fanatics we were, we’d both brought our mitts, though Erin—to my vast relief—hadn’t spoken again about a foul ball coming our way, the notion apparently forgotten as quickly as it came.
It was in the bottom of the ninth, game nearly over with two outs and the batter up, that she stood up suddenly and sang out, “High foul ball right to us!”
I laughed at the certainty with which she could still make these pronouncements. There was a crack as the batter connected with the ball, sending it high over the third-base line. A second later the laughter died in my throat as I watched the trajectory of that ball, saw it spin, curve to the left, and begin a slow downward arc right toward us.
All around us people were on their feet, arms raised, grabbing for it. I’m a tall guy, six-foot-five. I leaned forward and stretched my hand up. The ball slapped into the fingertips of my mitt.
Erin was jumping, laughing, crying, brushing away tears with her own mitt. I started crying too, the two of us shouting, hugging each other, staring at that miraculous ball.
Erin looked at the ball, that is. I was seeing something more wondrous still. I was watching a child’s first encounter with the God we can talk to even about baseball.