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Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Praying

Inspiration to dream big and pray big

Dream big, pray big
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Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the father of positive thinking (and Guideposts, as it happens) once wrote about a man he met who was disheartened because he wanted his daughter to have a college education, but he presumed he could never afford to pay for her tuition. 

Peale asked, “Do you believe in God?”

The man said he did; in fact, he attended church every week.

“Then,” Peale continued, “haven’t you heard that you are a child of God, and that all things are possible for you?”

The man said yes but confessed that he must not have listened to that message. 

“Listen now,” Peale said, and proceeded to raise the man’s vision. “The years have passed. It’s springtime. It’s commencement at Cornell University. Graduating students are lined up to receive their diplomas. And there, accepting her diploma from the president of the university, is your daughter! Isn’t that great?”

“Oh, I wish!” the man answered. 

“Instead of wishing for it,” Peale said, hope for it. Believe in it.”

Years later, that father contacted Dr. Peale. After his daughter had earned her degree. 

That’s how I want to live, and it’s why I pray. I’ve learned to incorporate hopeful vision and faith-filled imagery into my prayers. When I ask God to heal my two grandchildren who cope daily with the challenges of cystic fibrosis, I often picture them clearing away their medications and medical equipment, once and for all. 

I pray for an upcoming flight and envision myself landing safely—and early—at my destination. 

As I remember my children and grandchildren before God’s throne each night, I actually “see” them lying safely and happily in their beds, and sometimes fast forward to the morning when I imagine them rising and energetically heading off to work or school. 

This positive praying habit has served me and mine well for many years and through some dark times. Through it all, I put into mental pictures far more than what I could put into words, and I believe the Holy Spirit translated those images into answered heart prayers.

So why not try it? Is there a river you think is uncrossable? A tunnel you’re sure you can’t tunnel through? As the Gospel hymn said, “God specializes in things thought impossible, and He can do what no other power can do.”

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