“Look, Dennis I appreciate you and all that you and your family do for our neighbourhood, but I just don’t believe in God, and I don’t believe prayer accomplishes anything, and so I’d really rather not talk about any of that stuff.” Thankfully, his confession of unbelief did not deter our friendship in the least and soon we were making plans to take our sons on an overnight canoe/camping trip. The trip was fantastic, until the journey home. The four of us were in one canoe and in order to get home we had to cut across a channel a couple miles wide. As we got out into the channel, the wind picked up, and in seconds things got nasty. In the blink of an eye, we had crossed the line from adventure to danger. We could no longer just go straight across the channel. If the waves hit the canoe broadside we would be in serious trouble so we had to painstakingly angle the canoe across the channel. As wave after wave crashed into the bow of the canoe soaking my friend, his son became very afraid and began to scream and cry. Meanwhile in the back of the canoe I was frantically attempting every stroke I knew to keep the wind and waves from turning us broadside. At this point my seven year old son, turned and looked at me quizzically, the up and down motion of the waves had seemed like a fun roller coaster to him, but now with the his little friend screaming and the intense struggle from both the dads he wasn’t so sure. I called out to my son above the roar of the wind and waves.
“Darve we are in a serious situation and I need you to do 2 things, I need you to pray right now, and I need you to paddle hard!”
So at the top of his lungs Darve began to pray. He asked that we could be saved from this storm, that God would protect his friend, and us grown ups, that the water would stay out of the boat, on and on he prayed, until nothing was left uncovered by prayer. There were no tears or panic in this little man — just prayer and paddling.
When we finally arrived on the other side, my friend and I were exhausted, but not too exhausted to give each other a big hug. Things could have gone so badly for us, and it felt good, really good to be on shore.
I wonder if my dear friend still believes that prayer accomplishes nothing? I wonder if my sons simple prayer in the dark and dangerous moments of our trip showed us all, in ways more clear than any sermon, that the prayer of faith accomplished courage, hope and determination in the heart of a little boy who paddled hard.