A Slow-answered Prayer
written by Rev Gary Heard

I was blown away the other Friday morning when I took our five-year-old son Samuel for his regular kindergarten session. As we walked through the door, he caught sight of the kindergarten director, who gave her usual wonderfully warm welcome. As we exchanged greetings, Samuel piped in, “Excuse me, Wendy!” It is fair to say that neither of us had any inkling of what he was about to say. “… Wendy, would you please teach me to read!”

When Sam came home with his first ‘take-home book’, he not only became the third Heard child to do so from kindergarten, he reached a milestone which only 15 months ago seemed way out of the question. It was an emotional moment, not only for us, but for Wendy and the wonderfully supportive staff at the Early Childhood Centre at Carey. Their contribution to Sam – and us – has been critical in the tumultuous journey which has been his life.

It is almost five years since Samuel was discharged from the hospital into which he was born – some six months and three seasons after he made his early entry into this world. We left the hospital with a child still recovering from surgery on his eyes and a huge double-hernia, with the intimation that he would be blind and at severe risk of cerebral palsy and significantly diminished mental capacities. During the months of his hospitalisation people from around the world, along with people from around churches in Melbourne had been praying for him – some of whom have continued to remember him. We have met different people who have known Samuel’s journey without knowing us.

When Samuel sat down with me that night and recounted the story depicted on the pages of the book – almost word for word – I was left shaking my head in wonder and thanks, pondering the power of prayer and of supportive community. When he returned the following week and did the same for Wendy, she too was overcome with emotion – a joy she shared with the many staff there who have been part of Sam’s journey.

Though his journey still has much ahead, we look back at how far he has come, and ponder the power of prayer and the pattern of God’s work in a human life. I realised that some prayers take years in the answering, transformation taking place in the unseen moments, yet occasionally revealing itself in unexpected moments.

There were many moments of intense crying out during the hospital experience. Many voices joined the chorus of prayer in different ways. Now, more than 5 years since it all began, we are seeing answers in surprising ways. Prayer produces fruit which sometimes takes years in its production. God doesn’t forget, and has more patience than we!

August 25, 2002
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