The four of us sat with our arms folded and our eyes closed, waiting. . . . We were in the home of Dolores, a beautiful, eighty-year-old woman. She had invited my two companions and me to come teach her about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we had just taught her how to pray.
We had prayed with her many times, but this time we invited her to offer the prayer. We taught her to pray to Heavenly Father. We taught her to thank Him for her blessings. We taught her to ask Him for the blessings she sought. And we taught her to close in the name of Jesus Christ. She agreed to offer the prayer, and so we all sat expectantly in a prayerful attitude.
A long, warm silence followed.
One by one, each of us peeked at Dolores, and what we saw taught us more about prayer than we had learned in a lifetime. She sat, radiant, with tears streaming down her face. She was moved beyond words. Her unspoken expression of gratitude to Heavenly Father didn’t need the cumbrance of words. Her love spoke directly to our souls.
Dolores wept because this was the first time in her long life that she felt empowered to speak the words of her heart to her Heavenly Father. She was overwhelmed by the intimacy this created with her Creator. Her love for Him was expressed eloquently in silence.
Prayer is not asking.
It is a longing of the soul.
It is daily admission of one’s weakness.
It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart.
I’m Coming Home
The United States had just entered World War II and Gil McLean received a letter that made his heart sink. His wife brought in the mail and silently passed an official-looking envelope to him. They sat down at the table and opened the letter. Their worst fear was confirmed; Gil was called up to go to war. His wife was filled with dread. Gil comforted her, “Don’t you worry yet. I’m going to take this up with God.”
So Gil closeted himself in his bedroom, asking his wife not to disturb him. He knelt down and prayed. For hours. He pleaded with God to grant him a promise that he would return home. His wife noted the great passage of time and prayed in her heart, too.
After a long while, Gil emerged from his room, saying, “It’s gonna be alright. I’m coming home. I got my promise from the Lord. I’ll be in dangerous places, but the Lord will warn me.” From that moment on, Gil’s faith never waivered. He knew he was coming home.
At boot camp, the soldiers gave Gil a bad time about his habit of praying. He always answered good-naturedly, “You can tease me all you want, but prayers are going to save my life. God has promised me that he’ll warn me when I’m in danger, so I know I’m coming home.”
His sincerity persuaded even the cynical soldiers. He began to have a following. Several men began to say, “If Gil’s God has promised to send him back home to his sweetheart, we’re sticking by his side.”
Gil and his regiment were shipped overseas and entered into combat. There he met new soldiers who took delight in teasing him about his religious ways. By now he didn’t need to say a word in his own defense. His team answered for him, “Sure, razz him—but it won’t change a thing. Gil will stick to his prayers and if you’re smart, you’ll stick to him. You see, God’s promised to send him home.”
Well into the war, Gil’s company had fought a day under heavy shelling. They sought refuge for the night inside an abandoned barn. Bone-weary, they fell into an uneasy sleep. It seemed like Gil had barely dozed off when he got the idea that he should grab his buddies and his gear and get out of the barn. Gil wanted to ignore this prompting because he was hungry for rest. Again the warning came but with greater urgency, “Get out of the barn, NOW!”
In that moment, Gil remembered his promise from the Lord and realized this was the answer to his prayer. Gil immediately shouted a warning to his companions to haul out of the barn. Some of them joined him, diving outside without taking time to gather their supplies. They were less than 50 feet from the barn when it received a direct hit by a bomb. The force of the blast blew Gil and his friends into the air; some of them were caught in the branches of nearby trees. No one in the barn survived. Sobered but grateful for their lives, Gil and his friends reported to a nearby division.At the war’s end, Gil made it safely home. Some forty years later, he sat in my friend’s home, rocking her baby daughter. He felt a connection to the baby because he sensed her life mission would be to fight for freedom just as he had done in the war. So through this story, he shared the secret of his success: join ranks with the Lord.