On prayer and perfect timing

Before Joe went to hospice, the doctor held his thumb and index finger a quarter-inch apart in response to my question: “How much time does he have left?”

We knew it wouldn’t be long, of course. Joe could no longer eat or drink. Still, knowing the end was so near was startling and frightening.

As I kept vigil at his bedside, I prayed that he would have a gentle journey, free of pain or fear.

I prayed that he had forgiven me for every ugly thing I had ever said or done during our 40 years together, that he knew I loved him and that I had done the best I could. I prayed I would not falter as I faced the future without him. What selfish prayers, I think now.

Taking my cue from The Lord’s Prayer, I began praying instead for God’s will to be done.

Prayers don’t always get answered the way we want them to. (I haven’t won the Powerball yet!) But I trust that if I listen with an open heart, God will reveal what I need to know or do next. He protects. He provides. He reassures. And His timing is unerring.

The other day when I was feeling sorry for myself (too young to be widowed or retired and worried about my own health), a handwritten card came in the mail. It was from a young man I hired for a reporting internship probably a decade ago. He contacts me every now and then to catch up — usually during college football season (we’re both big-time fans!).

“I want you to know,” he wrote, “Rachel and I have been praying for you.”

Blessed reassurance and perfect timing — once again.

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