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Beneath the Surface of Prayer

In this excerpt from 101 Moments of Prayer, Elizabeth Sherrill experiences a heaven-sent moment.

Waves on the river
Credit: Jacob Wackerhausen
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Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard me. John 11:41

I’d gone on the weekend retreat with a question. The monastery was located at a beautiful spot on the banks of the Hudson River, 80 miles north of New York City. Somewhere in that prayerful place, perhaps during a chapel service, perhaps in the course of a talk by the retreat leader, answers to a special concern I had would come.

And one came, too, but not as I’d expected. It happened as I walked along the narrow shale beach at the edge of the river. There I watched a giant oil tanker make its way downriver, huge and silent, then growing smaller, leaving the water’s broad surface as undisturbed as though no ship had passed.

I strolled on downstream. The noise came from behind me—a roar like an approaching freight train. I whirled around to see two-foot waves rushing across the water that seconds earlier had been so placid. Curling, cresting, crashing in white foam around my feet—where had they come from! What had suddenly roiled the water on this windless morning?  Of course: the tanker, now far away.

I had wet shoes as I started back up the path to the monastery, but I had an answer, too. Our efforts at prayer are not unavailing. Our pleas are registered in heaven and God’s redeeming power is in motion. The effect has just not reached the surface of things where our land-bound eyes are watching.

Thank You, Father, for answers that in their time come cresting forth.

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