Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple

Huck Finn: “Couldn’t Make Prayer Work No Way”

posted by Mark Herringshaw

My Friend Jon was reading Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” and last week sent me the following passage with a suggestion that I post it on the blog and ask, “So, who agrees with Huck?” I thought Jon made a good suggestion. Here it is…

“Then Miss Watson she took me in the closet and prayed, but nothing
come of it. She told me to pray every day, and whatever I asked for I
would get it. But it warn’t so. I tried it. Once I got a fish-line,
but no hooks. It warn’t any good to me without hooks. I tried for the
hooks three or four times, but somehow I couldn’t make it work. By and
by, one day, I asked Miss Watson to try for me, but she said I was a
fool. She never told me why, and I couldn’t make it out no way.

I set down one time back in the woods, and had a long think about it.
I says to myself, if a body can get anything they pray for, why don’t
Deacon Winn get back the money he lost on pork? Why can’t the widow
get back her silver snuffbox that was stole? Why can’t Miss Watson fat
up? No, says I to my self, there ain’t nothing in it. I went and told
the widow about it, and she said the thing a body could get by praying
for it was “spiritual gifts.” This was too many for me, but she told
me what she meant–I must help other people, and do everything I could
for other people, and look out for them all the time, and never think
about myself. This was including Miss Watson, as I took it. I went out
in the woods and turned it over in my mind a long time, but I couldn’t
see no advantage about it–except for the other people; so at last I
reckoned I wouldn’t worry about it any more, but just let it go.”

So, do you agree with Huck – and Mark Twain? Does prayer “work?” – or more specifically, does God work through prayer? Maybe you have stories that indicate “yes.” Maybe you have stories that indicate “no. Let’s air it out!

A Prayer for Teachers and their Families

posted by Mark Herringshaw

Each day this month we are offering one prayer for one aspect of our children’s education.  Here’s a prayer for teachers. There’s no more challenging or more important job than teaching children. It’s vital and yet impossible, and without God’s help no teacher can meet their destiny, or help their students meet theirs.


Father, you are good so we pray asking you to multiply the results from the time each teacher spends on classroom preparation so that they can find balance with their own family.



An “Inside Job” Miracle

posted by Mark Herringshaw

One of those days…  My 12 year old son called us from school saying he had a strange pain.  He’d been complaining about this for a few days, but now it was worse, and, he said, unbearable.  The appearance of this pain arrived – coincidentally – with the beginning of school last week.  But Michael is not a foolish child, and he generally doesn’t make things up. So, we took him seriously.

My wife, Jill picked him up from school and took him to see our family doctor, who after an initial exam decided he should see a specialist, immediately.  Jill called me at my office with the news.  Honestly, a bolt of fear ran through me.  I immediately packed my things and headed out the door to meet them for the next appointment.

Just last night I spoke to a young man on the phone, a friend of mine who’s preparing for pastoral ministry.  He was standing in the hospital with his wife.  Their one year old son had pneumonia and a collapsed lung and had been rushed into emergency surgery.  My friend was exhausted and terrified.  I understood then.  I understand even more today.

I was afraid. I prayed hard on a 20 minute drive to seek a specialist.  I kept the radio off, and I talked – I complained – to God. 

We’ve had a deluge of medical problems in our family lately.  Our 19 year old daughter who was working as a medical aid student in the villages of South Africa has suffered from dysentery.  Our older daughter is enduring back pain from an old dance injury.  After completing a marathon last October I have been nursing a gimpy knee.  It seems like a season of physical harassment, nothing serious, but troubling none the less. But when it comes to my children, my imagination runs wild with these kinds of things, running in the wrong direction.  Bad imagination is a form of backwards destructive faith. I see what is not as though it is.  As I prayed on my drive over, I had to battle the onslaught of fear and an imagination picturing the worst.

Prayer was my best and most healthy response at that moment.  I gave the matter to God, the best I could.  It wasn’t  a great prayer or a particularly noble or sacred one, but it calmed me. By the time I arrived a real peace had settled over me.  I didn’t know what was coming, but I felt peace. 

The appointment was… uneventful.  The doctor was thorough, and one by one eliminated various possibilities.  After consideration, he offered his verdict: the problem was not in any way serious.

As we walked out I realized what prayer had done.  I do believe that prayer changes circumstances, that God heals our bodies and moves mountains.  Prayer isn’t just a psychic game.  It works.  But in this case, my prayer prompted God to temper and correct my twisted and false imagination.  God through prayer had changed the state of my soul… because there really wasn’t a need for any other kind of miracle!

Sometimes when we pray for our children, God touches our children; sometimes he touches us.  Either way he does miracles.

Books about Praying for Kids

posted by Mark Herringshaw
Interested in learning more about praying for your kids? Here’s a brief bibliograghy of recent books on the subject:


Every Child Needs a Praying Mom by Janet Kobobel Grant and Fern Nichols. (Zondervan, August 2003). In this excellent how-to-pray book, Fern Nichols, founder of Moms In Touch teaches women the principles and practices “that will not only revolutionize the way people think about prayer, but the way they do pray, leading them into a deeper intimacy with Jesus.”


When Mothers Pray: Bringing God’s Power and Blessing to Your Children’s Lives by Cheri Fuller (Multnomah, December 2001). In this book, moms from around the world share their personal struggles and ultimate victories, giving the reader hope for their own prayer victories. In addition to contemporary examples, this book includes historical examples, suggested schedules of when to pray, as well as topical information on praying for prodigals and grandchildren.


Praying the Scriptures for Your Children by Jodie Berndt (Zondervan, April 2001). This is another example of a how-to guide. Berndt emphasizes praying scripturally for specific needs such as wisdom, protection, and sibling relationships. It also contains examples of prayers.


The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian (Harvest House Publishers, July 1995). Each chapter of this book discusses a different topic. Omartian uses examples from her own life and the specific prayers she prayed for her children. Many readers feel the strength of this book is the prayer examples included in each chapter.

7 Absolutes to Pray Over Kids by Blaine Bartel (Harrison House, June 2005). One of the more recent examples of books on prayer written by the associate pastor of Church on the Move, Tulsa OK. He tells parents what they should pray using specific scriptures and illustrations in seven areas of their child’s life.

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posted 10:47:37am Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

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posted 11:49:13am Jan. 27, 2015 | read full post »

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