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What Prayer Can Do: The Pinecone Promise

Overwhelmed by life’s demands, a young wife prays for assurance of God’s presence.

Hand holding pine cone with golden brown and yellow autumn colors in the background.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
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Be specific in my prayers, I thought. Isn’t that how we’re supposed to pray? I’d spent three days at our church’s annual Forest Home Christian Camp retreat, the first half of it in tears.

Usually my husband, Anthony, came with me, but these days he didn’t have time for anything but the house he was building for us. And I just seemed to get busier and busier as a high school English teacher.

Now as I walked on the trails at the camp, I tried to pray. But pray for what? I had such a long list of things I wanted.

“It’s been three years,” I told God. “We’re still living in the trailer on my in-laws’ property. Anthony works on the house every day after work and on weekends. We never go out. The high school’s given me so much responsibility. Drama program, yearbook, English students needing extra help. I barely have time to go to the grocery store, much less cook. Please give me a lighter workload.”

I collapsed under a pine tree and continued. “Our fifth-year anniversary is coming up. I thought by this time we’d have a baby. I feel like the children I dreamed of having are slipping away from me.”

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When I’d gotten it all out I leaned my head against the pine tree. I needed so much. Yet what should I really pray for? Lord, what I need more than anything is to know you’re with me. If I have that, I can get through everything else.

A weight lifted from my shoulders. God would take care of me. That was the most important answer to prayer of all. It felt like an eternal promise. I wanted something to help me remember that when I returned home.

A pinecone lay on the ground. I put it in my pocket. The rest of the retreat passed peacefully.

Back home, I put the pinecone on a shelf in my bedroom. Whenever things got hard, I held it and remembered God’s promise. He would take care of me in his own way and in his own time.

A year later, the completion of our new house is in sight. We’ve found balance between work and rest. We’re expecting our first child. Many things on my prayer list are coming true.

It all started the day I asked for the one specific thing that mattered most: the promise of God’s unending love and strength.


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