"Everybody has special prayers sometimes. And in hard times it's nice to see how God has answered those prayers. One of the best ways to do that is to record those prayers. That way you have tangible evidence of God through the thick and thin. Don't forget to record how your prayers have been answered."
My first thoughts upon reading this again were a testiment to the wonderful teaching that she had received at Willow in the Student Impact Ministry for high-schoolers. She learned first to pray to God, that prayers are special conversations with God, that God could be relied upon and that He is faithful during the good times and the difficult times. This was a great exercise to be an object lesson for anyone who is testing the waters of prayer and their relationship with God. What a beautiful lesson she had learned.
On the next page she wrote a more personal message. At the time she made this gift, she was just about to head off for her first semester of college. That in itself was difficult enough for me to experience, and now she left behind a little piece of herself for me to hold on to. She expressed her wish that this would be a fun and helpful little gift. She wasn't quite sure why she thought of it, but that it seemed like the right thing to do, and even gave God the credit. "Guess that's God," she wrote. The last thing she wrote was "think of me while I'm away (at college), cause I think of you. Love, Sara a.k.a.Pookie". And as usual, with her signature came a hand drawn heart, as she always does. As I read this again for the first time, tears just welled up in my eyes. How I loved that part of her that was so tender, thoughtful and loving . I just wanted to hug her right then and there.
Instead, I opened up the pages to the prayers that I had jotted down. First the prayer, then the answer. Incredible to see how specific some were and that God answered them all. Everything from praying for Sara to get a part in the play at school, to helping Chris come home from school happy once in a while. God answered both of these requests. The first within five days, the second on the same day! Wow. This was working. Not that I thought writing them down was the secret to having them answered, but that I could keep track and see the goodness of God. It helped me see a little more how directly involved He was in their lives. As a mom, this was heart-warming to say the least. My first post in the book was January 17, 2001. As I turned the pages, I thought surely there is at least a few years worth of prayers in here. I prayed for my children specifically all the time, without fail. I prayed even when I didn't know what was going on with them, but knew that God did. I was anxious to relive those prayers and remember how God answered them. Many I can recall from memory, but I was certain there were some I would have completely forgotten.
Turning the pages, I started to get a sinking feeling. There were only a few more pages of prayers recorded, the last page was August 2, 2001. No, that can't be possible. I thought for sure I had written more. Quickly I flipped through each and every page, not wanting to miss anything. What I did find was throughout the book were pages Sara had written scriptures on, words of encouragement, words of strength. If I had just kept writing I would have come to these eventually and see the message left behind for me to find. But what I did not find was a volume of prayers, with answers. Trying not to feel guilty, I am justifying it with a few excuses, life got busy, the book was placed in my bedside drawer and got covered up so I didn't see it, I didn't like to write down my deepest or even my shallowest thoughts because they were so personal. Whatever the real reason, none of those erase regret. My heart is broken at the missed opportunity to reach back into a segment of life with my children and replay those prayers that only a mom can pray on a daily basis. Not that I didn't pray, but at the time I didn't really understand the value of writing them down. I was too tired, too busy or too whatever. None of that makes sense to me right now, when all I wished I had done was written a simple sentence or two. Then it would be there on the page to read later.
In just that few moments, scanning through this tiny little hand crafted gift from my daughter, I realized that it wasn't just about what was written on the pages, it was also about what was missing from the pages. What was missing, was evidence that I had prayed for them at all. The fact that their lives were and are so rich and they are so blessed gives me great satisfaction because I see God answering prayers on their behalf all the time. I know for certain that my prayers for them did not cease, blank pages are not evidence of that. I have confidence in knowing that what I do today in praying for them is the same thing I've always done. God has always been there. I regret not completing the writing in the book. As much as I love to write now, I can see the value of being able to hold in my hand my most precious thoughts and conversations to God about my most precious possessions, my children. Even through the difficulties of these past few years, I still did not write down my specific prayers. I know that so many were very intense. I would like to have seen that evidence of God on the pages, not just in my mind's eye.
I'm not sure I'm going to use this specific little blue book, but I'm thinking that instead of regreting the next decade of unwritten, undocumented prayers, I should probably just take a moment or two during the day, and write down a sentence or two about how I'm praying for Sara, and now grandson Wyatt and Chris. On my iphone I have an app that's called "Project365." It's an app that allows me to record a photo a day for the next year on a calendar style format. Then I can turn to any day and it will remind me of an event from that specific day. I like the idea enough to adopt it for prayers...."PrayerProject 365" is what I'll call it. It would be a miracle if this time next year I actually have 365 prayer entries.
The last scripture entry that she wrote in the book says "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we REJOICE in the hope of the glory of God." Romans 5:1-2. I'm going to hold those words a little closer, hold the book a little tighter, and lift my children a little higher in prayer to God...for 365. Amazing what a little blue book can do for me these days. Thanks Sara, a.k.a. Pookie.