Answered Prayer 20 Years in the Making
Beginning at 5:25a.m. on Monday, October 24, 2022, I was up, made my coffee and was feeling well. Reflecting that this was the start of the eighth week after a cycle of 6 chemotherapy treatments for cancer of the pancreas, I thought that a very good “rest” week was forthcoming. I read my current devotionals and prayed the Daily Office.
Between 9:30 and 10:00a.m. I noticed that I was feeling not-so-well. My energy level had lowered significantly, but I kept going. I went to my workshop until some workers came, after which I coordinated their efforts. all the while progressively feeling worse. I began to feel cold over my entire body. Then, I experienced what I would describe as an acute case of restless leg syndrome. Also, my entire body felt sore, as if I had the flu. Nonetheless, I returned to my shop to “piddle” while the workers were accomplishing their task.
Sara and I had lunch at approximately 12:45p.m., during which I was still feeling extremely cold. My legs continued to be very painful and I experienced severe pain throughout my entire body. This seemed to be the worst pain I had experienced during my entire time of treatment. Sara tried to help get me some relief by massaging my legs, but to no avail. About 1:30p.m. I took Lorazepam and Oxycodone for my pain. I could not sit still. I was literally in tears with the pain. I had to get up and walk around. After pacing around the house for some time, I told Sara that I was going outside to walk. I walked around the yard seeking relief. None came, so I walked to the mail box at the end of our drive.
Upon returning from the mail box, Sara and I opened our mail. We each received greeting cards of encouragement from my best friend in Florida. Mine contained a prayer for hope and peace with a notice of enrollment in the masses at the National Shrine of St. Jude. This certainly was a card of encouragement.
Included in my mail was a used book I had ordered for the upcoming training of acolytes I would be conducting at my church. I had ordered multiple copies of this book from multiple used book sellers on many occasions prior. This time, when I opened the book something unusual happened: a small yellow card fell out of the book. In all of the books I had ordered previously, there had never been any other material in them.
The card, approximately 3” x 5”, had on one side a depiction of Christ in the orans position of prayer. On the other was written this special prayer:
I call on you right now in a special way. It is through your power that I was created. Every breath I take, every morning I wake, and every moment of every hour, I live under your power.
Father I ask you now to touch me with that same power. For if you created me from nothing, you can certainly recreate me.
Fill me with the healing power of your spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in me.
Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged areas. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection.
Let the warmth of your healing love pass through my body to make new any unhealthy areas so that my body will function the way you created it to function.
And Father, restore me to full health in mind and body so that I may serve you the rest of my life.
I ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
I read the prayer card and began to weep. Tears were running down my face and I literally sobbed. Many times, I read and re-read the card. Sara asked me what was going on and all I could do was hold the card out to her.
What an emotional afternoon it was! I returned to my shop and began to feel better, still experiencing some of the symptoms as described above but not as acute.
That evening we went to our life group where we ate soup and cornbread. I felt ok. During prayer time, I shared the above story with the group. Our associate rector commented by recalling his homily given the previous day at our church’s women’s retreat. He talked about Hagar and how she felt abandoned, alone, afraid, and hopeless. Then God appeared to her and gave her the name, The God Who Sees Me.
This prayer card was God’s way of appearing to me at a time like this!
The next day I was up at 5:00a.m.. During prayer and meditation time, I reflected on the previous day’s prayer card incident. My questions included: “Did God allow me to be in so much pain so He could show His care, faithfulness and sovereignty in my life? Did this incident open a door for a new kind of ministry?”
I went to our weekly Shepherd Team meeting. I told the prayer card story. My rector and associate rector both affirmed that the story was given to me by God. A God who sees me. A God who knows me. A God who cares for me. They concurred that I have been prepared to be a sacrament, a witness to others of how great our God is and how much he cares for us.
Now, for the rest of the story:
You see, that prayer was written by a Roman Catholic Priest, the Rev. Larry J. Hess, whose hospital ministry began in the 1980’s. The actual card I received was written and copyrighted in 2001 while he was a priest at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Bangor, PA. The card was placed in a book owned by someone at a church in Mt. Airy, MD. The book was purchased by me from a used book seller in Illinois.
That prayer card traveled from Fr. Hess in PA, to a church in MD, to a book seller in IL to me in NC on a day when I needed it the most - 20-plus years after having been printed!
God is a God who sees you! God is a God who cares for you! God is a God who loves you! God is a God who provides what you need when you need it most! God is the God of our salvation through Jesus Christ!
Thanks be to God!