"Prayer is the burden of a sigh, The falling of a tear,
"The upward glancing of an eye, When none but God is near."
(See "Hymns," No. 145, "Prayer is the Soul's Sincere Desire")
I pray about everything. Well, not everything. I don't pray about the brand of soup to buy when I'm in the supermarket. But I do pray about cars when it's time to replace them. My wife sees to that. Our poor old Taurus wagon had 190,000 miles on it, had been pounded by a bodacious hail storm, and now its "check engine" light was permanently on. We donated it.
I was a couple of years from retirement. We had always driven an "it'll do" car – function only, no pizzazz. In my mind it was time for that dream car – comfortable, luxurious – you know, one with a "wow" factor. We could afford it now. I informed my wife of that.
Off we went to the dealer. I was in "I've got one you don't" heaven for the duration of the test drive.
When we got home I announced, "I'm going to call the salesman and make an offer."
"All right, but why don't we pray about it over the weekend before you do."
"I did already — this morning before we left."
"Could we wait and pray together?"
She's right. Again.
We did pray. Sincerely this time. And the answer came. Two words to my mind — soft, gentle, definite: "Not yet." That feeling of peace, of rightness, swept through me.
Fast forward 60 days. Our daughter calls from college four hours away. "I'm coming home for the weekend."
"But your mom's going to be gone, playing 'grandma.'"
"I'm coming anyway — good 'daddy-daughter' time."
I was flattered.
Saturday we attended her niece's early-morning soccer game. Afterwards I suggested IHOP for breakfast. That was fine with her!
Flashback. She had been struggling spiritually. We felt the need to tie her tuition money to LDS Church attendance and institute enrollment. She fulfilled the letter only, coming late for sacrament meeting and leaving before Sunday School. She enrolled in institute but rarely attended. During her sophomore year her brother paid her an unannounced visit and noticed an impressive collage of empty cans of a certain malt beverage taking form in her room. When her mother found that out, she suddenly had the urge to also pay a similar unannounced campus visit. While there she took our daughter's face in her hands and pulled her nose to nose:
"Child, if you're going to continue down this path you're going to have to fight me every step of the way. Over my dead body are we going to lose you. I love you too much not to do this."
Back to the present. Between mouthfuls of "Come hungry, leave happy" this about-to-graduate daughter reached into her backpack and set some papers on the table, careful to avoid any syrup spills. "Dad, I need help filling out these forms. I'm going on a mission."
Would you believe I climbed up on the table and danced a jig right there in IHOP? I didn't, but I sure did feel like it. I told her, and she doubled over in embarrassed laughter. Her mother's visit had been the turning point.
You know, it wouldn't have been any fun at all paying for a mission and making that gynormous car payment at the same time.
Robert Boyce is from Flower Mound, Texas.