As the miracle of renewed life continues to settle upon my brother-in-law Tim and my sister Mary, my husband and I wonder at God’s grace.
Two weeks ago, Tim and Mary, who are National Ski Patrol, were skiing with Olympians from several European countries in upper Lower Michigan, near Gaylord. Tim, a champion skier who has always worn a helmet, somehow landed head down among some young birch trees. He was airlifted to Hurley Trauma Center in Flint, Michigan, closer to where Tim and Mary live. Tim had multiple serious traumas, including a fractured pelvis.
The following week, I asked all my colleagues at the Lutheran Center in Chicago and in Women of the ELCA’s network of anti-racism educators (TDTR) to pray for Tim and Mary. Many responded. Some asked to put him on their prayer chains. I sent out a second request asking people to please place Tim on all prayer chains and altars. I did this because I have seen prayers save lives before .
A week ago, my husband and I were driving to Michigan to be with Tim and Mary. She had called to tell me that Tim had taken a turn for the worse. I only told my supervisors of this as I left the office, because I needed people to keep praying for Tim to be healed. The fact that the neurosurgeon had told Mary that Tim had insufficient brain activity was something I held close to my chest behind the breastplate of faith.
As we drove, I looked at my husband driving as we passed Benton Harbor continuing toward Kalamazoo. “It doesn’t seem like we have been on the road that long.” To which he quickly replied, “No, it does not!” We knew in a truly sensory way that the prayers of the saints were with us. Before we reached Kalamazoo, Mary called to tell us that Tim had opened his eyes.
The same Tim who had too little brain activity had just opened his eyes and smiled at us upon our arrival. He recognized us and he took my hand as I stood next to his bed to tell him that so many were praying for him.
For nearly four days, from Wednesday through Saturday, I was awestruck. I had little to say except “Praise the Lord” over and over again. I had brought my anointing oil from my sacred space travel kit. “I anoint you Tim in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit for a complete healing,” once at the top of his head. “I anoint you Tim in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit for a complete healing,” again, over his heart. “I anoint you Tim in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit for a complete healing,” once again on his arm. I did this anointing three times over three days. God had turned things around.
When we left Chicago at noon on Tuesday, I thought I was going to be with my sister as she made a life-and-death decisions. In retrospect I can see that I went to tell them about many of you and your prayers. I told them of the saints of God praying mightily. I named at least fourteen states and every region of this country where I knew people were praying for him and Mary.
This Tim unmistakably touched by God’s grace sat at the edge of his hospital bed and wiggled his toes, raised fingers, and mouthed words as a seemingly unending line of doctors, therapists, nurses, and surgeons came into his room. And Mary, my sister Mary finding favor in God’s eyes, was given great strength so that after eleven days of not leaving Tim’s side, she found sweet respite. I saw her transform into a woman of hope because of everyone’s prayers.
Some may wonder that I tell this story now. After all, Tim is still in the hospital, with a long way to go. But I needed to say thank you, and to say that prayer matters. Thank you to God and thank you to all who prayed and continue to pray for Tim. Thank you so very, very much. Prayer matters.
Do you believe that prayer matters? When have you seen the power of prayer at work?
Inez Torres Davis is director for justice, Women of the ELCA.