I read the sweetest blog this morning, and it reminded me how often I need to be reminded of the power of prayer. I was born into a religious family, and we always had a prayer as a family at each meal and before retiring to bed. However, my own prayers as a young woman were not always fervent, or deeply personal. Sometimes I fell into the habit of saying the same things each day, adding a new petition here or there, but not truly connecting with my Father in Heaven.

When challenges came along, my prayers started to have more meaning. When I had nowhere else to turn, I finally remembered to turn to God. And He was always there. His answers weren’t always what I had asked for – in fact, more often than not, a very different answer was given. The first time I read following poem by an unknown Confederate soldier, I felt in many ways I could empathize with his experience with prayer:

The Blessing of Unanswered Prayers
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but eveything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.

I, too, feel “most richly blessed”, even though my life has turned out to be very different than what I had planned or hoped for. Now, looking back, I am finally beginning to see some of what God has been trying to do for me as He has lifted me, carried me and led me through trials and challenges. And I have to admit that the times when I was praying most fervently- and submissively –  are the times I felt Him nearest, and the times when I could humbly receive the blessings He was offering me.