God Hears Every Word!

Then he said, “God, please don’t be angry,
but let me speak just once more…”

Genesis 18:32

The July 4th holiday continues to elicit poignant memories. This time, I consider my stepfather. His devotion to this country and to the family he found when he fell in love with my mom were unmistakable. I was almost forty when his final illness took hold. I was heartsick and tempted to abandon the certainty of my childhood prayers. Still, when Bill lay dying, I rekindled my faith in the power of prayer…

I stood at Bill’s bedside. Emphysema had transformed this muscular carpenter into a shadow of his former self. I prayed and asked the God of Abraham to watch with me for a while. Like Abraham, as soon as I had God’s attention, I began negotiating.

First, I asked for relief. My dad’s breathing was terribly labored. “Take away his anxiousness over every breath,” I begged. When I felt assured of that much, I went on. I requested strength for my mom and the rest of us to remain present to him for as long as needed. I knew God was listening and so I continued. This time I set limits on the “as long as needed” part. “If he was my son, I would have him home by Easter!” I challenged God to hear and to respond to my prayer as God did to Abraham’s.

Just a week later, we walked with my step-dad through his passing. It was the night before Easter that I apologized to God for my insolent and demanding prayer. I also thanked God for taking my father home. In spite of my tears, I smiled as I promised to pray with the conviction of Abraham many more times before God and I meet face to face.

Loving and Patient God, thank you for listening and for responding with more than I could ever hope for.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Alone With God

But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to God in secret.

Matthew 6:6

My grandson recently celebrated his third birthday. Quite a lot has happened since he made his early appearance three years ago. He’s now a happy and healthy big brother who’s just begun preschool. Three years ago, when I was too frightened to predict any of this, I learned a great deal about prayer…

My elder grandson arrived long before his projected due date. There seemed to be little I could do to help his mommy and daddy through this trauma. Grandpa and I assisted here and there while Mom-to-be remained on bed-rest and Dad continued to prep their home for Baby. Still, I could do nothing about the very real possibility that this baby would arrive early, too early. Finally, I heeded Jesus’ suggestion in Matthew’s gospel. Though the house was empty, I retreated to my room to talk to the only One who could make a difference in all of this. In the quiet, I lay my troubles in God’s lap. Oddly, even before I knew the outcome, I felt reassured. In the end, God responded with more than I dared to hope for. Yes, that little boy is just fine!

You know, that trip to the quiet of my room made all of the difference that day so long ago. It reminds me that sometimes I need to steal away from the distractions around me to be alone with God. Though those worries about my grandson are old news today, other concerns require my attention. This time, I’m not wasting my time on worry. This time, I’m spending some precious private moments opening my heart to God.

Loving God, we pray in quiet and in the midst of this life’s chaos, always certain that you are listening.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

God Always Hears Us

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth…

From Psalm 138:1-2

The month of June always prompts giddy thoughts of summer. As we considered our plans this time around, my husband and I studied our calendar. Our first priority is time spent with our grandchildren and our eldest granddaughter’s birthday. As Mike wrote her name next to the date on our calendar, a memory from long ago prompted a prayer of thanksgiving for this happy and healthy child…

When our little granddaughter was hospitalized, fear took hold. Though our sons had endured their shares of childhood illnesses, neither spent time in the hospital as a toddler. Our granddaughter seemed bright as could be and had spoken like an adult since shortly after she uttered her first words. “Still, she is so small,” I whispered.

I remember that drive to the hospital and my prayer as though it was yesterday. “We’re truly blessed, Lord, I know. I also know that we’re not immune to the tragedies of this life. Still, please heal this little one. I don’t know what we would do without her.” When we arrived, we found our granddaughter with an IV inserted in her arm, a sticker on her hospital gown and a smile on her face. Though she was pale and weak, Mommy reported that her first-born was responding well to treatment. As for this grandma, I breathed a sigh of relief and a very grateful prayer.

Loving God, I know you listen to all of our prayers. I am most grateful that your plans and mine were in harmony that day so long ago. Help me to remember that your love is always in sync with what is best for me.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved