Harvest House Publishers
A Note from Allison
About the Contributors to God Answers Prayers
10 Tips on How To Pray
Innocent, poignant, and often impractical, children’s prayers touch our hearts and God’s. Yet the requests of these precious little ones seem to bring about the impossible. Matthew 18:10 reminds us that their angels continually behold God’s face. Should we be surprised then when we see how God responds to the faith of a child?
Though we are the ones instructed to teach them in the ways of the Lord, we would do well to learn from them about simple trust in our Maker.
O Lord, may our faith always be pure, innocent, trusting, and childlike.
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:14-15).
Children can teach all of us great lessons, especially in the area of answered prayer. Candy, Mike, and Jimmy knew this and prayed to the Lord to help them. Who else would take the time to save a little ole beef cow?
BY CANDY ABBOTT, GEORGETOWN, DELAWARE
“Mike, Jimmy, come quick!” I yelled through their bedroom door. “Dad says Beulah’s having her calf right now!”
It was 1957, and I was ten years old. The smell of straw filled our nostrils as we scurried to our makeshift barn. The shed where we usually kept our tractor was now home to Beulah, the borrowed cow, and her newborn.
“Come take a look.” Dad spoke quietly, directing us to join him on the other side of Beulah. There he was: the ugliest, most wonderful hodgepodge of lanky legs, knobby knees, and slimy body I had ever seen. Beulah, an attentive mother, was licking her calf, cleaning him lovingly.
“Yuck!” My brother Jimmy made a sour face while taking in the sight.
“It’s not yucky,” I said. “All babies are born with that stuff on them, and all animal mommies clean it off by licking. It’s like giving their babies kisses.”
“Is it a boy cow or a girl cow?” Mike asked.
“A boy calf isn’t a cow,” Dad explained. “It’s a bull. And this is a bull calf.”
“A bull calf!” Mike and Jimmy hopped around like kangaroos on a trampoline. “What are we going to name him?”
“Calm down, boys. We’re not going to name this calf.” Dad’s expression changed to one of serious concern.
“Dad, why not?” I asked. “We always name our animals.”
“Not this time, honey.” He stopped rubbing Beulah, put the towel down, and knelt beside us. “Remember, Beulah isn’t really our cow. We just let her stay here for a friend. In exchange, we get to keep the milk. Your mom fixes it to make butter and cream for our family.”
He went on to explain that part of the bargain also included a promise that when the calf grew to 80 pounds, Dad could take him to be butchered for veal so our family could eat. Mirroring his sad expression, we didn’t really understand what he was saying.
As soon as our talk was over, my brothers and I tiptoed over to the calf. We secretly vowed to think up a good name for him.
Seven days a week, when the rooster crowed at sunrise, Dad would pull on his khaki pants and work boots and make his way to our backyard barn. The no-name calf grew stronger and larger every day, even as I secretly prayed he would stay small.
Every day as Dad stirred the mixture of ground corn and bran for Beulah, the bull calf would rub against his thigh. And each time he milked Beulah, the calf would nose around for attention.
One afternoon I overheard Dad tell Mom, “It’s like that calf thinks I’m his mother.”
I noticed that he would pat the calf on the head every now and then. But he still wouldn’t let us name him.
“Mike. Jimmy.” I pulled my younger brothers close. “I’ve got a good name for the bull calf. What do you think of ‘Nosey’?”
They let out a quiet cheer and, from that moment on, Nosey became our secret pet.
Eventually, Dad taught me to milk Beulah, and I took over the duty on Saturday mornings while Dad was plowing. Mike and Jimmy liked to watch me.
“Can I try?” Mike asked.
“Sure,” I said, feeling very grown-up. “But you have to watch out for her hind legs so she doesn’t kick by mistake.”
Jimmy entertained Nosey while Mike got into position, cautiously making his way around the towering cow. He perched proudly on the wooden, three-legged stool. Just as Dad had taught me, I leaned over and placed my hands around Mike’s small fingers, demonstrating how to grip, pull, and aim for the bucket.
“Ow!” Mike gasped, as the warm milk sprayed in his hand. “It’s hot.”
“It’s not hot.” It seemed my brother expected the milk to come out cold, like it comes out of the refrigerator. I laughed at the thought.
All too soon, the day came when the calf weighed 80 pounds. Dad announced, with a crack in his voice, “I guess it’s time to load the bull calf up.”
“What do you mean, Daddy?” I still didn’t quite understand where he was taking Nosey.
“As much as I hate to do it, kids, I have to take the calf to the Townsend Slaughter House.”
“What’s a slaughterhouse?”
“It’s a place where they butcher livestock and wrap it to order. They have a meat locker and freezer, and they take care of everything right there.”
I still didn’t understand.
As tenderly as he could, Dad explained what he was going to do. “Remember when the calf was born and I told you when he got big enough I’d have to butcher him for veal? That means we have to kill the calf so we’ll have meat for the winter.”
“No!” I screamed and ran out of the room. “I’ll never eat meat again!”
I watched from my bedroom window as Dad walked resolutely, but with slumped shoulders, into the backyard and unlatched the barn door. He wiped his cheek with the back of his hand. Our calf innocently followed him outside and stood meekly beside our ’48 Dodge Town and Country. I watched as Dad took out the backseat and folded down the middle one. He lifted Nosey’s front legs, gave him a pat on the rear and, like a child eager for a ride, the calf jumped over the tailgate. The grate of the metal as Dad slammed the door echoed in my ears like a deathblow.
I turned away, unable to watch him drive off. Mom came in to try and comfort me, but I waved her away. How could she let Dad do this?
“Dear God,” I prayed, “please don’t let Nosey get butchered. Oh please, do something to bring him back to us.” I had prayed a lot as a kid, but this was the first time I offered so earnest a prayer. All three of us kids prayed hard that day.
A half an hour later, much sooner than expected, I heard the familiar sound of the station wagon engine and crunch of tires in our driveway.
“He’s back!” Mike yelled. “Nosey’s back!” Jimmy bounded into my room, grinning and jumping up and down. “Come and see!”
Sure enough, gangly legs and hooves clambered their way over the station wagon tailgate, landing unsteadily and kicking up a small cloud of dust in the driveway. As Dad led Nosey back to the barn to reunite with his mother, the three of us hugged our bull calf ’s neck and patted his silky ears. “What happened? What’s he doing back here?”
We couldn’t tell if Dad was crying or laughing as he choked out his explanation. “The whole way into town, he kept rubbing his wet nose against my neck. I’d shoo him back, and the next thing I knew, he’s slobbering wet kisses all over my face with that soft, fat tongue of his. I kept thinking, “This is wrong. You can’t do this, Jack. As much as you don’t want to admit it, he’s a family pet. You don’t take pets to the butcher. So I turned around, and here we are. What do you say we give this pet a name?”
“Dad,” I giggled, looking at my brothers’ excited faces, “we have a confession to make. We named him a long time ago. We call him Nosey!”
“Obviously the perfect name, since it was his wet nose on my neck that made me change my mind and bring him home.” Dad reached down to pat our bull calf and chuckled.
My brothers and I learned a lot that day. It was a time when our faith became grounded in the power of prayer. We learned that daddies can change their minds, that daddies hear the heart cry of their children, and that daddies have feelings, too.
We also learned that our Abba Daddy, our Father, answers prayer. Sometimes Daddy God says no, like keeping Nosey less than 80 pounds, because sometimes He has a better plan. And sometimes He says yes, and brings him home.
Nosey grew up to be a fat, sassy bull that won several 4-H ribbons at the state fair. He taught us far more in his lifetime than we would ever have imagined: lessons like responsibility, dependability, pride, commitment, and love.
Forty-three years later, I can still see Nosey’s furry face in my mind’s eye, and he’s smiling, thankful for the full life he lived as a result of prayer.
Teaching our children to pray, especially in times of need, is a necessity. With acts of pure evil being committed every day, we must arm them with the power of prayer. Irene used that power during a frightful time that could have changed the course of her life, and Iris knew the Lord had answered her.
BY IRIS GRAY DOWLING, COCHRANVILLE, PENNSYLVANIA
“Help, help!” The shrill voice was coming from the grassy meadow between my house and the road.
I had just sent my daughter to the bus stop and climbed back into bed. Sick that day, I had called in to work and told them I wouldn’t be in.
“Help!” I heard the voice again. Jumping out of bed, I wrapped my robe around me and grabbed my old coat.
“Please, God, please let my daughter arrive safely at school.” I heard an engine take off near the bus stop.
Again, I heard faint cries coming from the pasture. Heart pumping, I raced toward the sound, but could only see tall grass. As I got closer to the crying, I recognized a young girl struggling toward me. Irene, a friend of my daughter, was out of breath and terrified. She should have already been picked up. Her bus stop was just before my daughter’s, a mile away on the other side of some wooded hills.
“Help me! Please, help me!” she panted.
I rushed to her side, and out of the corner of my eye noticed someone running to a car parked near the bridge, about an eighth of a mile across the meadow. The car turned onto the road and headed toward my daughter’s bus stop.
I didn’t think about my daughter being in imminent danger. I was pretty sure that I had heard the bus pull away. My immediate concern was this exhausted little girl. I reached out and took her hand, helping her stand up. I wrapped her in my coat and held her close as we walked slowly to my house.
“What were you doing out in the pasture on such a cold morning, honey? Did you lose one of your pets?”
“I w…w-was waiting for the bus, and a car stopped. The man told me to get in the car because my mom sent him to take me to her office. I said no and tried to run away.” Irene broke into tears. “He got out of the car and grabbed me. He stuffed me in the car and locked the doors. He was going so fast.”
“Irene, have you ever seen this man before?”
“No, and I didn’t look at him very much. I was just trying to figure a way to get out of the car. The door locks looked like the ones in my mom and dad’s car, and when he slowed down for an oncoming car at the one-lane bridge, I unlocked the door and jumped into the ditch. I got up and squeezed through the post and the fence rail, crossed the swamp, and ran as fast as I could up the hill to your house.” Irene breathed deeply, finally catching her breath. “He wouldn’t give up, though. He chased me. I prayed and prayed that you were home.”
“Any other day, I wouldn’t have been here. God answered your prayers today, Irene.” I offered her some warm tea. A little calmer now, she remembered her mother’s work number, and I called to let Mrs. Mac know that Irene was safe with me until she could make her way home.
Suddenly my thoughts shifted to my own daughter. Did she really get on the bus? I called the school. I waited and prayed until they assured me my daughter was safe in her classroom.
At the end of the school day, police came to question us about our experience and observations. “I remember a light-blue car stopping near the bus stop after I was already on the bus. It followed us for a little while,” my daughter offered.
I told them everything I could think of. Later that day, while watching the news broadcast, I learned that a serial rapist had been in our area that day. He had tried to pick up several other girls without success.
When I saw Irene again, I told her that God had indeed answered her prayer that day. “Several miracles saved your life, Irene. On any other day, I would have been on my way to work. I very rarely take a sick day.” I also explained that another car was in just the right place, obstructing her abductor from taking the one-lane bridge too quickly, offering her the opportunity to escape. “Irene, God also gave you the wisdom to see that option. He gave you strength to get through the swamp and up the steep hill to my house.”
God had answered my prayers, too. My daughter arrived safely to school. Even though we didn’t know the extent of our danger that morning, none of us has forgotten this experience. We are strengthened in our belief and our trust in God’s answers to prayer.
What a blessing to experience the true power of prayer, especially as a child. Can you remember the very first time you prayed and were astonished at how quickly and easily God answered that prayer? Michael was only six or seven at the time (he cannot quite remember what his age was), but he can definitely remember the prayer, and it changed the way he viewed prayer for the rest of his life.
BY REV. MICHAEL WELMER, HOUSTON, TEXAS
At one time or another, each of us experiences an omnipotent moment. It is the click of the clock when a prayer for something so seemingly impossible is answered by the almighty power of God. An omnipotent moment can fortify the foundation of our faith for all our future days when we are called upon to rely on the promises of God.
My omnipotent moment occurred when I was about six or seven years old. Roy Rogers, the “King of the Cowboys,” was on a promotional tour for Sears and Roebuck. One Saturday morning, Roy and Trigger were scheduled to be at the Sears store in downtown Indianapolis where my dad was the store superintendent. I dressed in my Roy Rogers finest. I strapped on my Roy Rogers gun belt, donned my Roy Rogers boots, and tipped my cowboy hat in just the right direction. I was ready to meet my hero.
Everyone gathered on the loading dock to hear Roy speak to us about obeying our parents, being kind to others, and eating healthy. Roy and Trigger did a few tricks, and then Roy made a special announcement. “As a special award for being good, one little girl or boy will get to sit on Trigger.” Roy carefully scanned the crowd of children.
“Please, God, let him choose me! Please, please, God. Let me be the one who gets to sit on Trigger! Oh, God, I will never ask for anything else, if You can get him to pick me. Please, God, please.” I tried my best to sit as still as I could, with perfect posture and my hands crossed in my lap.
The next moment is etched in my memory forever. I watched Roy Rogers walk from child to child, and when he got to me, he stopped.
“How about you, young man? Would you like to be the buckaroo to sit on my horse, Trigger?”
“Would I!” The “King of the Cowboys” lifted me up in his arms and sat me on Trigger. God had answered my prayer, and I was on top of the world, looking down from the back of my hero’s horse.
This was my omnipotent moment. It was such a powerful experience, that it molded my faith to believe that nothing was too hard for the Lord.
“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Certainly, those words pave the way for God’s children to “cast all their cares upon Him.” As the disciples witnessed the incarnation of those words in the very miracle of Jesus, and ultimately in His resurrection, they each discovered their own omnipotent moments, moving them to a greater reliance on God’s almighty power.
My story of Roy and Trigger and the omnipotence of God is not finished yet. My dad was most certainly the person responsible for arranging Roy and Trigger’s visit to Sears, and though I never asked him, I believe that he somehow “encouraged” Roy to pick me up. How he did it, I don’t know. I may never know, but I would have done the same for my son.
Yet, it really doesn’t matter if my dad did “encourage” Roy to choose me. Isn’t that how God works to construct His omnipotent moments? He acts through the people around us to create our omnipotent moments and works through us to craft the omnipotent moments of others. Sometimes that is called answered prayer.
It doesn’t matter how God did it, who He used to do it, or what circumstances He marshaled to make it happen. All that mattered for me, and that which still shapes my prayer life, is this: If God could put me on Trigger, He can do anything!
During times of life’s disappointments and changes, even small matters can seem insurmountable obstacles. Kassie knew what she wanted and asked God to deliver. Like most parents, Kassie’s mom could not see how this special prayer could make a difference. God showed her how.
BY LOU KILLIAN ZYWICKI, CLANTON, MINNESOTA
As I looked around our four-room apartment I was repulsed. It hadn’t been updated in 50 years. There was gray paint on top of years of spongy wallpaper, the varnish was worn off the kitchen cabinets, and the linoleum on the kitchen floor was so badly cracked that it was hard to scrub it. After years of being college rental property, the smell of beer and stale cigarettes was so deeply embedded that the gallons of Lysol I had scoured into everything still had not removed the odor.
Worst of all, our three youngest children and our beagle shared one bedroom. We had squeezed two sets of bunk beds into the bedroom, and these were occupied by our 15-year-old daughter, Karin, our 12-year-old son, Kendal, and our 6-year-old daughter, Kassie. Luckily, Kris, our oldest, had already moved away from home, or we would have been even more crowded. The children gained privacy by changing clothes in the bathroom, and our daughter Karin did her nightly studying at the city library, but none of us were dealing very well with our new living situation.
Our family business had failed, leaving us deeply in debt, and we had few options. We had to sell the lovely home that we had spent the past nine years remodeling. My husband and I each had new jobs, and we knew that we would slowly climb out of our financial hole, but for now we were living in an old apartment building that we were renovating.
My deepest concern was for my daughter Kassie. We had adopted her when she was four. Her early years had been very difficult and had left her traumatized. Now, just when she was beginning to do better, we had moved into this ugly, crowded living space. Each member of our family was grieving individual losses, and tempers were short. I knew Kassie didn’t need this added stress.
Kassie had her own cure for the sadness she felt. She decided she needed a kitten to snuggle and love. She stubbornly refused to listen when I tried to explain that we just didn’t have room for another pet. Instead, each night when she knelt to say her prayers, she asked God to send her a kitty. I knew that her solution was not the correct one, but I did not know what to do. I, too, prayed for an answer that would make our living conditions a little happier.
One evening I sat on the edge of Kassie’s bed absently stroking her soft, red hair as she engaged in her daily discussion with God. My heart ached with her longing and with my own unhappiness. After tucking her tightly into her bunk, I went to find a box of Kassie’s winter clothing that I had stored in the garage and found an unwelcome surprise waiting for me in the box. A mama cat had made her bed there, and she lay nursing two tiny gray kittens.
I refused to admit that Kassie’s prayer had been answered and told no one about the kittens’ presence. But on Halloween night we had an intense blizzard, and for some unknown reason the mama cat disappeared into the storm. I did not have a choice. I had to bring the kittens into the house and bottle-feed them, or leave them in the garage to die.
When she spied the treasure in her box of clothes, Kassie bounced with excitement and immediately christened them Krystal and Koral. She decided they needed “K names,” like the rest of our children. The task of bottle-feeding the kittens and cuddling them was shared by all of the family. However, Krystal decided she belonged to Kassie, and Koral decided she was mine and followed me around like a puppy. To my surprise, the enjoyment the kittens brought strongly decreased the tension in our house, and our curious beagle never touched them.
Kassie had been right. She had needed a kitten to help her be happy again, and so did I. When I was not wise enough to realize that she knew what she needed, God directed the mama cat to a box that already had Kassie’s name on it.
(This story was previously printed in Whispers from Heaven.)
How many times has a loved one been ill and seemed near death? A situation like this can seem overwhelming to a child. Many would just give in and give up hope. In Deanna’s case, however, she did the only thing she knew how to do: She asked the Lord to help her daddy.
BY DEANNA LUKE, FORT WORTH, TEXAS
I was 11 years old in 1958, but I remember the day as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was my last day of summer vacation, and I was enjoying Labor Day with my mother at Aunt Shirley’s house. I was watching my uncle pull the steaks off the grill when I heard the phone ring.
“Hello,” I heard my aunt say. She hesitated for a moment. “Inez, it’s for you.”
I watched my mom take the phone. “Hello, this is Inez…yes… I’ll be there shortly. Thank you for calling, Danny.” Her hands were shaking as she hung up the phone.
She grasped my hand in hers and we walked into the living room.
Aunt Shirley was the first one to speak. “Is everything all right, Inez?”
“That was Danny. He said there was an accident at the railroad.”
“Is Daddy okay?” I could barely get the words out. Everyone waited quietly for her answer.
“He’s going to be fine, honey. He’s got a broken arm is all.”
“What happened?”Aunt Shirley wanted details,and I listened closely.
“Well, evidently he was training a new employee, teaching him how to set a boxcar break. The train came to an abrupt halt unexpectedly, and he was tossed from the train.” She went on to explain that as a conductor on the railroad, part of Daddy’s job was to train the new men.
We went home immediately, preparing the bedroom for my injured father. While we were putting the dirty sheets into the washer, the phone rang. Mom ran to answer, and I finished loading the laundry.
“Hello? I’m on my way,” I heard her say. After making a quick phone call to my aunt, we left the bed only partially made, and mom hurried me to the car. We drove back to Aunt Shirley’s. “Thank you so much for watching her. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“What did they tell you?” My aunt’s look of concern worried me. She squeezed my mom’s shoulder and pulled me to her side.
“They said his injuries are worse than they originally thought and he’s unconscious.”
Mom drove 30 miles to the hospital and called us after she had some answers. Dad had a shattered wrist and a broken hip, among other various injuries.
Days went by and I was desperate to see my dad, but the hospital rule was “No children under 13.” Finally, after hearing me cry for days, one of my aunts gave in.
“Come on, Deanna, we’re going to the hospital.” She cleaned me up and drove me to the hospital. It was the longest 30 minutes of my life.
When we arrived, there was a nun sitting at the receptionist desk, and my aunt explained our situation. The sister shook her head adamantly. “No!” I was devastated.
“I want to see whoever’s in charge.” My aunt was not easily swayed.
The nun, who looked ancient to me and quite capable of enforcing her decisions, seemed to have a change of heart after listening to our story. “I’mgoing to let you go up just this once,” she said, “but you need to show me that you can behave like a grown-up. Do you understand?”
“Yes ma’am…um, Sister.” I nodded my head, eager to find my dad’s room. My aunt took my hand and whisked me into an elevator before the nun could change her mind.
Arriving at my father’s room, I stood frozen at the door for a moment, taking in all the sights and smells around me. The whole place smelled like rubbing alcohol. I walked toward the bed. My dad was in traction. I looked into the corner of the room and saw my mother. She looked so frail sitting there, waiting. She raised her finger to her lips, indicating for me to be quiet. She did not have to remind me. The nun had already made it clear.
“Deanna, I want you to stay here with your dad while I take your mom to another room to take a quick shower. Do you think you can do that?” My aunt was trusting me to do something very grown-up, and I readily agreed. “I want you to sit right here beside him, and don’t do anything unless he tells you so.” I agreed and they left the room.
I looked at my unmoving father and was terrified by his helplessness. Tears spilled over onto my face, and I began to pray. “Please, God, please let him wake up. I need my daddy to take care of me. I know You don’t need him as much as I do.”
While I was praying, I stared at Dad through my tears. His eyes opened! I pressed a button near the bed and kept pressing it until another nun came to the room, looking less than pleased. But I didn’t care. “My daddy opened his eyes!” I clasped her hand tightly, pleading for her to stay. “Watch! I know he’ll do it again.”
“Honey, we all hope he will open his eyes.” She didn’t believe me, but I knew what I saw. “Just stay here and watch. I know he will.…Look, see! He opened them again!”
The sister’s eyes opened wide and she turned all of her attention to my father. She spoke directly to him, and he answered her. I was just a little girl, but God heard my prayers and said, “Okay.”
Today, Dad is 88 years old. I will never forget how the Lord honored my desperate prayer that day—the prayer of a simple 11-year-old girl missing the company of her father.
It’s sometimes difficult to remain optimistic, especially when missing animals are concerned. As adults we’ve seen all too often how lost animals end up. Yet in the innocent eyes of a child, nothing is impossible and pessimism is seldom in their vocabulary. Ann learned very quickly how God often uses the tender heart of a child to bring us back to belief in His power.
BY ANN OLIVER, TYLER, TEXAS
One night as I was getting the children ready for bed and ready for our nightly prayers, Judy, my youngest daughter, looked at me and said, “I’m going to pray that Coco comes home.”
My heart felt a pang of regret. Coco, our big old tomcat, had been gone a year and the possibility of a return at this date seemed utterly impossible. I did not want my little girl to be disappointed.
I floundered for words, and then I said a very stupid thing, “Oh Judy, God does not have time for dogs and cats!” I regretted the words as soon as I spoke them. She looked up at me and said, “Well I’m going to pray anyway, because you said God always answers our prayers.” She bowed her head and prayed. I left the room with a heavy heart, not knowing how I was to handle the disappointment when Coco did not return.
As I was finishing up in the kitchen that night, I heard a commotion outside in the carport. I opened the back door to see what was going on and there was Coco! Wild and disheveled, he was hissing at our other cats.
I was not the only one who heard the commotion; behind me stood Judy and her older sister, Jana, their eyes open wide in surprise.
Judy looked up at me and cried with happiness, “See Mom, God does have time for dogs and cats!”
“Yes,” I answered her, in utter amazement, “He certainly does.”
He also had time to teach a foolish mother a very valuable lesson on prayer.
Excerpted from God Answers Prayers by Allison Bottke. Copyright © 2005 by Allison Bottke. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.