Late one mid-winter day when the snow lay three feet deep on the central New York ground, some Christmas lights twinkled on porch railings and windows to remind us of the birth of our Savior. In another part of town, our sixteen-year-old son, Bryan, lay on the ice hockey rink, unconscious. Seeing him crumpled like a fallen brick wall made my blood run as cold as the thermometer outside the rink, which read ten below zero that January day.
Three years before, a Bishop at a men's rally had challenged his audience to "Pray for your children daily." And so my prayer life began to take a turn. Praying daily for someone seemed redundant to me, as the Bible warns of praying vain repetitious prayers (Matthew 6:7). But I continued.
Bryan continued to lay motionless on the ice. I searched like a hawk for the slightest movement. Nothing came. Time dragged. Coaches and trainer hovered over his still body, the rink of spectators silent. Still no movement came from our son.
Bryan could take a hit as well as any one, but this time his lights hadn't come back on. My mind flashed back to my high school days, when a boy on the football team had died after taking a similar hit.
Following much discussion with God, I dropped to my knees. This is a public place, Lord, I thought. "Pray," came the command. The floor was cold and wet. "Pray," He said.
On the dank floor, I asked our Father to "Please touch Bryan and keep him alive." My right knee became damp and cold. I raised myself up, feeling much older than my years. I peeked over the boards that separated the ice from the fans. Numbly, I blinked, finding it hard to swallow.
Still no movement came. And then I saw it: Bryan's right foot moved. He's alive! Hallelujah! Thank you, Father. Another motion, then another and another. His coach helped him sit up.
Leaning on one arm with his legs stretched straight out, Bryan sat on his cold battlefield like a wounded knight. Helmet on. His head tilted down to one side.
The crowd began to chant: Bryan! Bryan! His trainer helped him to his feet. Coach and trainer at his sides, they guided him off the ice through the door to the team box and a seat.
He was not only alive, but skating off the ice -- slowly, but on his own. My face beamed through tears. Thank you, Father, for hearing my prayer, I uttered.
On that bleak afternoon in a hockey rink, God grafted to my heart to pray for my family members by name everyday. I believe that when we do this, God honors the effort. Also, when crisis comes, we are able to go fast to prayer at the point of need.
Help us, Father, to "pray without ceasing" for our families, friends, leaders, neighbors, church, pastors, missionaries, parachurch workers, authorities, community and whomever else You bring to mind. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
God bless you all is my prayer.