Lord Alfred Tennyson said, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
The apostle James said, “The fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).
Despite the drift toward secularism that seems to be happening throughout the world, and despite the fact that smaller and smaller percentages of people identify themselves as members of a specific religion, large majorities of people virtually everywhere say (or “admit”) that they pray.
Depending on religious tradition, culture, and precedent, prayers come in many forms — from spontaneous to carefully written; from secret to public; offered up in a church, in a synagogue, in a temple, in a mosque or in the privacy of one’s own mind.
There are those who pray regularly, and those who pray only in crisis. It is said that even atheists resort to prayer in the foxholes of war; and the classic agnostic’s prayer rings out in times of deep need: “Oh, God, if there is a God, please hear me.”
Personally, we feel that there is one kind of prayer, which is always essentially the same though uttered in different words and different forms by mothers and fathers the world over, that has a particular directness and power because it is the pleading of one parent to another — an earthly parent addressing a heavenly parent asking for help with a child shared by both. The essence of this type of prayer is something like this: “Oh, God, you have sent me this child who needs help beyond what I can give. I call her my daughter, but she is really your daughter and I am but an earthly babysitter. Please bless your child, and bless me to know what to do for her.”
A variation of the prayer happens in frustration and confusion instead of in crisis: “Heavenly Father, you have given me more than I can handle with this child. Help me remain calm and tell me what she needs and how to meet those needs.”
Many churches have a hierarchy that believers try to follow. Seeking answers, one goes to his or her bishop or pastor, who may go to the stake president or diocese leader, who may go to an apostle or a cardinal — links in the chain between the individual and God. But when it comes to praying about a child or for a child, there are no links in the chain. It is direct, one-step communication from parent to God. The stewardship is clear. The communication and the inspiration are a straight line going up and coming down.
We live in a world today that values independence and decries dependency and we so often hear the view that people should be able to make it on their own, should depend on themselves and stand on their own two feet. We are told that to need someone other than oneself is a weakness.
Yet, deep down, we all know that it is not true. We realize how little we know, how little we can control, and how dependent we are on things beyond ourselves. Those humble thoughts lead us to prayer and cause us to appeal to a higher, brighter, more knowing power. Particularly in times of crisis, in times of loss or of danger, we come face to face with our own frailty, and it seems both natural and necessary to turn to prayer.
This happens so often in parenting. We come to our wits' end. We try everything we can think of. Problems often seem unsolvable and too complex to even address. Abraham Lincoln’s quote comes to mind: “Sometimes I am driven to my knees by the simple conviction that there is nowhere else to go!”
He may have been talking about the problems of the presidency, but the sentiment is perfect for the feelings parents face so often. We, as the mortal and earthly stewards or babysitters or “beginner parents” are driven to prayer and to the True Father, the Heavenly Father, by the simple conviction that we have nowhere else to go!
Richard and Linda are New York Times No. 1 best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Read Linda's blog www.deseretnews.com/blog/81/A-World-of-Good.html and visit the Eyres anytime at www.TheEyres.com.