You hear that a lot, along with “sending thoughts and prayers.” In fact, that has been so over used it has almost become a sad punchline to a bad joke. But take it from someone who has been there, prayers do have real power. Not that I think prayers can necessarily make instant, magical things happen. But they do have power.
Sixteen years ago when I was at Duke having my first stem cell transplant, at one point things started going not very well. I was getting infections when I didn’t have an immune system to fight them off. I didn’t want to recognize it at the time, but I really was in a bad situation, even close to death. They had parked me in the hospital while they were working on me, pumping me full of antibiotics.
That night when all was quiet, I laid awake in my hospital bed and started thinking about all of the people who were praying for me. The list went from my large family to all of my friends. I also remembered my friends who were teachers and had told me they were having their young students say prayers for me too. And the list went on and on.
After a while I started having the feeling like I was at the ocean and had gone out into the water. You know the point where you are floating in the water and bobbing up and down with the surf? Like the water is holding you up. That was the exact thing I was feeling. I know this sounds very cosmic, herbal and organic, but it was a very real, physical manifestation of the power of all those prayers holding me up.
At that point I decided that I was going to get past those infections and recover, so I dragged myself out of my hospital bed – IV tubes and all – got down on my knees and said a thank you prayer for all of the people who were sending their prayers my way. And I did recover. And I will never forget that very real feeling of the prayers that were holding me up.