A child came to me with a dime in his hand.
“Look what God gave me,” he said.
“God, doesn’t give little boys dimes,” I replied in reproof.
“Well” he said gravely. “He gave me this one. I asked God for a dime to buy food for my pet turtle, and kept on asking Him, until suddenly, as I was walking across the park, I saw a dime lying in the grass, right where God had dropped it.”
Frankly I was awed, the boy was so simple and convincing.
Everybody I have known has told me that he has prayed at some time or another. But as they grow older, most people are less inclined to pray because they do not see the immediate answer lying before them, like the little boy’s dime, shining in the grass. One must be able to recognize the answer to a prayer.
A parishioner of mine almost went mad when the doctors told him his wife was dying of cancer. He came to my house every night and together we prayed for her recovery even though her condition was very serious and there was hardly any hope.
The poor woman died. Later I met the man and asked him whether the death of his wife in the face of our prayers had weakened his faith.
“Certainly not,” he said. “It strengthened my faith on the contrary. I thought I could not bear to lose her, but God gave me strength to accept the inevitable. My prayer was answered in a much larger way than I had asked for.”
The way to get your prayers answered is to pray for strength to answer them yourself.
My favourite prayer is the one by St. Francis of Assisi: “Lord, make me an instrument of peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is doubt, faith: where there is despair, hope, where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.”
“O Divine Master, grant that I do not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love, for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to everlasting life.”