A View of Prayer Transformed
by Cathleen Holbrook
Hopewell Reformed Church, Hopewell Junction, New York
‘I’ll pray for you.” How many times I have said those words with good intentions, to comfort a friend or encourage an acquaintance going through a hard time. Maybe I said a quick prayer on my way out of church, or when I saw that person again.
Prayer took on an entirely new dimension when our son Andrew, a sophomore at Hope College, was in a car accident in August 2013. His friend, the driver, was killed, and Andrew sustained a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). As my husband, two daughters, and I raced to the hospital where he lay comatose, we had no idea what was ahead of us. We prayed in desperation on the long flights to Michigan.
In those early days at the hospital we gathered with countless friends and relatives in the family lounge, as TBI patients cannot tolerate stimulation. Two at a time, we crept into his frigid, dark, quiet room to pray for him. On the hospital dry-erase board in his room, the category “Goals” stood empty. He was so critical that there were no goals. We took the marker and wrote underneath, “God’s Miraculous Healing.”
With every visitor, we prayed around Andrew’s bed holding hands, in the lounge, in the hallway outside his room. Pastors, old friends, new friends, relatives, Andrew’s college buddies, professors, and Hope staff: everyone prayed, and prayed, and prayed.
Andrew came out of his coma after 16 days and went to a rehabilitation hospital for three months of therapy. His first job was learning to hold his head up straight. He relearned how to sit, stand, walk, talk, write, feed himself…everything.
He has returned to living in a dorm at Hope and taking two classes. He works hard every day to compensate for his short-term memory loss; we are proud of his fighting spirit. Each morning I pray, beginning with the words, “Thank you for your miraculous healing.”
When Andrew was still in the hospital, one friend wrote to us about his lifelong battle with insomnia. Whenever he lay awake at night, he prayed for Andrew. After the accident, people from our church in New York held a prayer vigil for Andrew, and they have continued to pray. One of my co-workers, an agnostic, told me that he felt compelled to pray for Andrew. Our cousins in Africa had their whole community praying for Andrew. What a comfort to know that even as we were sleeping, around the world Andrew was being lifted up in prayer.
Although Andrew’s TBI has changed our lives, we continue to trust in God’s miraculous healing, and we can see his loving hand in all the good days—and the bad days—that have passed since August 2013. Now when I tell people I will pray for them, I count it a privilege. I will never again say “I’ll pray for you” without realizing the incredible power of prayer.