Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dandelions, Rabbit's Feet, and Bedtime Prayers


When I was a little girl, Mama and I would search the early evening sky for the "first star."  We would recite this compulsory verse together:  "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight.  Wish I may, wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight."  And oh, how I would wish.  Squishing my eyes closed, I wished for a pony most nights. What little girl doesn't want a pony at some time in her life? I learned at a very young age to be careful what you wish for. 

When my dad bought a pony for me, I thought all my dreams had come true. Honey looked like Misty of Chincoteague, but alas, I should've been more specific in my wishing. I should've wished for a pony that didn't buck and bite. The devil's in the details. She was a pretty little thing, but she was worthless to me. I had more fun riding the little saddle Daddy bought that we put on the back of the couch.  

Honey ended up in a friend's pasture, where I could look at her. From that point on, I focused my wishes on getting a pony I could RIDE.


Childhood is a magical time.  Not only were first stars available for my wishing pleasure, fluffy dandelion heads beckoned me to wish and scatter their seeds far and wide.  Good luck for me; bad luck for Dad who probably would have preferred to have a weed-free yard.
Can you believe they still sell these? This one's available on
Amazon.com for $2.25.  Who knew?
For awhile, I had a lucky rabbit's foot. The rabbit's foot concept is pretty bizarre when you think about it. I loved how soft the fur was. I loved the bright red color. And then it hit me. This wasn't some random fluffy toy. It had toe nails. This FOOT was once at the end of a leg of a living, breathing animal. After awhile, the rabbit's foot didn't seem so lucky. It seemed to be a reminder of an unlucky bunny. I traded it to my little brother for something he had that I wanted more.

Arguments would pop up with the neighborhood kids about how many wishes you could make on a star. My best friend believed in the one star-one wish theory. I believed that if you kept the wish to one sentence, it counted. My wishes may have been the longest run-on sentences known to mankind, but for me, at least, they were totally legit. There were also disagreements about what would happen if you disclosed your wish. My friend and I didn't like it when we kept secrets from each other, but we didn't want our wishes not to come true even more!

As I grew older, I taught my own children to look for the first star. We wished on shooting stars, too. And repetitive numbers on the clock, like 11:11. We were a tight-knit little group of wishers.

Early in my childhood, Mama also taught me to pray.  At night, she always tucked me in and reminded me to say my prayers.  I would rush through my prayer as fast as I could, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. A-MEN!"

That is a pretty creepy prayer for a little girl with nightmare issues to have to repeat every night.  And maybe that is why, later in life, my wishing on stars sounded more like real prayers.  I still used way too many "ands," but my wishes were heartfelt. They were sincere requests to the powers that be. I no longer wished for ponies. The wishes of my heart became prayers for my children's safety and guidance. I prayed for friends and family to overcome overwhelming circumstances and illnesses. Sometimes things worked out the way I wanted; sometimes there were disappointing results.

When prayers are not answered, is it because we are not specific enough?  I don't think so.  It's not like wishing for a pony, and making certain to add in the specifications that will insure the pet is a worthy steed. I think sometimes prayers are simply a way for us to communicate the desires of our hearts, and gratitude for our blessings, and apologies for our mistakes, but in the end, we have to leave it all in God's hands, and trust that He knows what's best.

Adult Sunday School became my least favorite weekly tradition. I skipped it as often as I could, finding excuses like needing to check on our Sunday dinner, or visiting a friend a little longer than I should in the hallway of the church between meetings. On one of the days that I managed to stay, I actually learned something from one of my favorite people at church.


My friend was teaching a lesson about prayer. She pointed out the definition in her Bible Dictionary that defined prayer as such: "Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God, but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant, but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work, and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings." WOW.  There is some serious power in the verse, "Ask, and it shall be given you..." (Matthew 7:7)

The tricky part is figuring out what He wants us to say. If His desires become our desires, there's nothing stopping us from obtaining all that He has in store for us. And then there's the timing issue. Basically, it's our job to ask, and it's His job to answer, but it's all on Him about the when. Sometimes the answer is yes; sometimes it is not yet; and sometimes the answer is simply no.

Lately, I find myself wishing comfort for the aching hearts of mothers who are worried, or experiencing loss...for the best possible outcomes for friends or their little ones in surgery...for the happiness and success of all of my children...for parents to remain healthy and strong...for marriages to grow in strength and love. 

At times, my silent prayer is for my back not to hurt, or for other things I realize may not be possible at this time. There are different blessings gained through suffering. Sometimes the bad times linger longer than we'd like, but when it's finally over, we realize we are becoming better people in our trials.

When wishes become prayers, good things can happen. And even when good things are postponed, or even if they don't ever happen, the good thing that is taking place is that we are learning humility and patience, and strengthening our relationship with God. I'm not very good at praying regularly. My prayers are not very formal. Oftentimes they are the briefest of whispers. Unspoken, but heartfelt prayers, can be just as effective. We don't always have the courage to say out loud what is inside our heads, but He knows. I have to believe He knows our hearts and minds, and he listens, even when words fail us.

I find myself humming "When You Wish Upon a Star" this morning.  It doesn't matter who we are, it just matters that we ask. When we finally ask for the things that are ours for the asking, we will begin to see miracles take place in the lives around us.






4 comments:

  1. I seldom wish upon stars or dandelion fluff anymore, but I do have the greatest comfort (faith) in knowing that no matter what my heart desires, God will bless me with what I need...and I know it won't necessarily be in my timing, but I'm ok with that.

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  2. I take COMFORT in prayers; I need more FAITH. Thanks, Susan.

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  3. Creativity in drawing out how prayer is reality in life and that God is walking with us in constant connection is good. I agree with you that He is always here, with the answers depending on what will be THE BEST for us.

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    1. Sometimes we may not understand when what is best is waiting for the answer. Thanks for reading!

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