“Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith [and] prayer.” The Family: A Proclamation to the World
The LDS Bible Dictionary defines prayer as “the process by which the will of the father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other” (752-753). I have been a believer in prayer from a young age. Family prayer was something I grew up with. Before every breakfast or dinner we would kneel around the table and pray together. I don’t recall when personal prayer became an important part of my life, but I remember several times as a teenager going to my Father in Heaven with heartfelt prayers and having them answered. From that time on, I have known there is power in prayer, that my prayers are heard, and they are answered.
After marrying, prayer with my husband became a unifying action. As we added children to our union, family prayer was incorporated. Through the past twenty-three years of our marriage, I am grateful for the strength and unity prayer has brought to my marriage and family. There are three specific occurrences where prayer strengthened us and helped us endure some difficult times.
Three years into our marriage, we discover I was expecting twin boys. We had a 14-month old daughter, and while this news should have been exciting, it was coupled with the discovery that they were sick—very sick. They had what is called twin-to-twin transfusion, a condition which, in very basic terms, occurs when the two babies are sharing one placenta unequally. One baby gets too much fluid and suffers from the effects of that (congestive heart failure) and the other baby doesn’t get enough and suffers from not getting enough fluid and nutrients. There were only two doctors in the country at the time I was expecting that treated this condition and offered a surgical solution to try and rectify the transfusion. One was in Indiana, but on sabbatical; the other was in Florida. Long story short, I ended up delivering the twins stillborn at 22 1/2 weeks gestation in Florida before the doctor could perform the surgery. Up to that time, that was the hardest thing I had ever gone through. Prayer was such a healing tool as we mourned the loss of our babies and buried their little bodies in Twin Falls, Idaho. It was a time where I relied on the strength of the Savior and the promised blessing of the resurrection, knowing someday I would hold those little boys again and be able to raise them, but in the meantime, the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ helped ease my pain and sorrow.
Another unexpected death in the family came years later. In 2015, my husband, Steve, was riding with his younger brother, Arland, in one of his work trucks as they returned from a service call. Arland suddenly slumped over as he was driving the truck 65 mph down the grade toward Albion from the Pomerelle Ski resort. Steve had the calm sense to get control of the truck, get it stopped, call 911, and start performing CPR on Arland. But he was gone. Leaving behind a wife and four small children, our beloved 33-year-old Arland’s heart had stopped. Prayer and the subsequent tender mercies of our Heavenly Father were the only way we made it through that painful time. When tragic things happen, some people may ask, “Why is this happening to me?” Rather than questioning why things happen, turning towards God during difficult times can strengthen our faith. An African American father expressed, “When you believe in God…yes, the boat still gets to rockin’ but [God] says, ‘In me you can weather the storm” (Marks, et al., 2008, p. 179). Prayer helped our family weather this storm and grow closer to God and each other.
The last experience I share happened as we were building our home. My husband was working as the general contractor on the project and we broke ground April 1, 2010. In case you don’t know, my husband is in the water business. He installs pumps into wells and configures water systems for homes, dairies, and other applications. His older brother owns a well-drilling business. We have an “in” with water, right? David, Steve’s brother, drilled the well in the early summer and Steve installed the pump, but we didn’t turn it on at the time. Progress on the home-building was steady and later in the summer, we finally started up the pump and discovered there was very little water. The well was inadequate and a new one would have to be drilled. By this time, though, David was very busy. There was also the concern as to where to drill the new well. A septic system and drain field would also need to be installed, far enough away from the well to comply with the plumbing code. The water system was put on hold. By November, we were installing fixtures, carpet, and other finishing touches, and still there was no water. David was finally able to get started drilling and we were relieved! But as he approached a depth of 450 feet, deeper than most of the wells in the area, there was still no water. We were getting concerned. My husband and I decided all we could do was take the matter to the Lord in prayer. We went into the basement of our almost-finished home, into the storage room that already held food-storage moved over from our existing home. Kneeling on the concrete floor, we pled with the Lord for the blessing of water. We expressed to the Lord our past willingness to be obedient and faithful and then petitioned Heavenly Father for a specific blessing—water in our well. We closed our prayer and left it up to Him. Thirty minutes later, David hit big water, far more than we expected! Our prayer was answered! That experience taught me that when you are faithful and obedient, the Lord will hear and answer your prayers. You can expect it.
How grateful I am for the power of prayer. The three example above are just a drop in the bucket of the times Heavenly Father has heard and answered my prayers. When we align our will with His, I know we will receive the answers, direction, and comfort we seek. “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). Incorporating prayer in our marriages and families can help us weather the storms in life, and when they are over, we can be stronger and closer to God.
Marks, L.D., Hopkins, K., Chaney, C., Monroe, P.A., Nesteruk, O., & Sasser, D.D. (2008). “Together, we are strong”: A qualitative study of happy, enduring African American marriages. Family Relations, 57, 172-184.