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The Difference One Prayer Can Make

Folding Hands over a Bible,moms in prayer zondervan book

Have you ever experienced the difference one prayer can make?

I’ve seen such wonderful answers to prayer over the years — including in my own family — that those answers spur me on to keep praying. While we lived in British Columbia, my husband, Rle, and our ten-year-old son, Troy, were invited to go on a canoe trip with a friend and his son. The friend had canoed down the Fraser River many times, and he wanted to share the fun with Rle. Besides, it would be a great adventure for the two boys.

Excitement built as the day grew closer. Much preparation and planning preceded the event.

Because it was early spring, the snowcap was melting off the mountains, causing the river to run high and rapid. The day of the trip turned out wet and rainy, but that didn’t deter these hearty souls.

After packing the canoe with their supplies, they were about to launch the boat when they heard voices calling out to them. Two men who were coming ashore were yelling.

“You aren’t going out on the river, are you?” one of the men shouted.

When the man who had invited my husband said, “Yes,” one of the strangers responded, “I wouldn’t go out today. The water’s too high and swift. We’ll be picking you up off the bottom.”

Rle’s friend assured my husband that he had canoed the river in all kinds of weather and they would be fine. Still, as they jumped into the canoe, Rle saw the two strangers shaking their heads in disbelief.

About midafternoon I felt prompted to pray for Rle and Troy’s protection. So strong was the impression that I stopped what I was doing, sat down at the kitchen table with my Bible, and claimed promises of protection for them.

I prayed: “Protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15). “Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore” (Psalm 125:1 – 2). “ ‘Because he loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name’ ” (Psalm 91:14).

Then I prayed for Rle’s friend and his son, “Lord, You know what is happening right now. I ask that You would protect them. Keep them safe. Put Your arms around them and keep them close to You. Bring them home. I trust You; I will not be shaken. Oh, Lord, bring them home.” I must have prayed for almost an hour.

Later that evening I received a call from my worn-out yet thankful husband. As he told me what had happened that afternoon, I calculated the time and realized the terrifying story had taken place just when the Holy Spirit had prompted me to pray.

Rle’s story unfolded like this: As they paddled down the river, they picked up speed until suddenly they hit a drop-off, like a small waterfall. The canoe shot into the air, and all its occupants were thrown into the icy river. As Rle came to his senses, he realized he was underwater, held there by two little feet on top of his shoulders. Not knowing where the strength came from, he hoisted Troy off of him and swam with Troy to the canoe, which was nearby and hadn’t sunk. He pulled up Troy to get his chest out of the water because Rle was concerned about hypothermia.

Troy asked him, “Daddy, are we going to die?”

Rle was silently resolute.

Troy continued, “It’s okay, Daddy. We’ll be with Jesus.”

The friend and his son were farther away from the canoe. Rle said he would never forget the sound of his friend frantically calling for his son and the relief when father and son found each other in the roiling water. God gave them the strength to swim toward the canoe and latch on.

After forty-five minutes of battling the freezing, raging waters, their strength was giving way and they were chilled to the bone. Just as Rle was comprehending that they really were going to die, another miracle occurred.

They felt land under their feet and discovered a small, submerged island in the middle of the river. They were barely able to stand because of the water rushing over the island. Shaking uncontrollably they huddled together in prayer, thanking Jesus for their momentary safety.

Then, in a matter of minutes a helicopter, with just enough space to land, picked them up and whisked them to a nearby hospital. How had the rescue crew known? Another miracle. A couple saw the accident and immediately called for help. The paramedics said that if Troy had been in the water ten more minutes he would have died of hypothermia.

What a privilege I had to fight for the physical lives of my loved ones and their friends through prayer. Did my prayer make a difference? Did God send ministering angels to help because I prayed? Yes and yes. God promises that when I call to Him, He hears me and will do great and mighty things. Prayer can make the difference between life and death.

Your Turn

Sometimes one little prayer can make a major impact. How has prayer made a difference in your life and the lives of your loved ones?

Photo credit: kjekol (