Monday, July 31, 2017

The Invisible Arms of Prayer

One afternoon, several years ago in Provo, my brother Derek came over. He had just gotten the devastating news that he didn't get a job that he was really hoping to get. Our usually animated conversations turned into one-word questions and responses. We were both sad that this prospect for the future, his hopes and dreams, had been crushed. I listened. We listed all the things that would have been bad about the job (as one is wont to do when things don't go our way!). We tried to 'reframe' his future, trying to think of other, equally exciting opportunities. I convinced him to watch a short clip from Studio C, a sketch comedy group love that we both share, and the laughs helped dissipate some of those hurt feelings. Derek went home feeling lighter, as did I, grateful that I could listen and help in some small way.

Now two years later I live 1500 miles away from most of my family. I deeply love and care about my siblings, their children, their lives, my parents, and all that I left. Not surprisingly their disappointments, struggles, hurts, and sadness are still going on despite my absence. It's made my heart hurt as I've realized the comforting hugs, the heartfelt conversations while we keep eye contact, and the trust that can be built by being a repeated listening ear cannot be realized with me so far away.

So I've been praying with all my heart.

"Heavenly Father, please watch over my brother this week..."

"Father help my sister know that she is a child of God..."

"Father bless them with comfort and guidance."

My heart has become soft and open as I cry and plead in prayer:  "Father I can't be there to offer a warm hug" "Father, I can't be there to make the cookies" "Father, I can't be their literal shoulder to cry on." Be my arms, Father. Be my heart.

It helped me understand what it means to pray according to the will of the Father. All the things I was praying for were things He too, would hope for His children. When you let go of your wishlist for a pain-free life for yourself or others, you can begin to pray in a way that allows our Father to grant your requests.

I began to understand that when my will aligned with my Father's, my faith in Him could truly bless others (Mosiah 8:18). It could change their lives even. God has a plan for each of his children that is best for their learning, growth, and understanding of Him. His plan leaves room for agency, where children can learn through their own mistakes and their own choices. But what my faith can do is alter how alone they feel on that path.

In my aloneness, my separation from my family, I have found that we are never truly alone. The deep love I feel for my family He feels for me too. Because I've seen him answer my prayers for others, I know he cares deeply about my issues as well, from my smallest issues to my big ones.

While it's with love that we think about others, there is real power in prayer. Prayer changes a wish of comfort into a concrete feeling. Prayer changes feelings of aloneness into a feeling a peace. Prayer takes the hug we can't give and breathes life into it. Our arms become His arms. Thus, our loved ones become wrapped in the invisible arms of prayer.


  1. Ash- Thanks for this. I needed it today. Are you praying for me? Mom

  2. I hadn't thought about prayer in this way but it feels right. Thank you, I am trying to make my prayers more meaningful and this is one of the keys that I was missing.