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Pray for me; heal my heart

By Michelle Lehnardt

After the funeral, the house felt oddly clean and quiet– especially in little Robert’s room where his blue-trimmed crib lay empty. Just days before, Pam’s miracle baby had pulled himself up to standing, laughed at the sunshine and reached for her arms; but in the morning he was blue and still.

Pam stepped onto her back porch, turned her face to the moon and wondered how long her heart could continue to beat when she was so filled with pain. As she stood outside she began to hear whispers, to literally feel the prayers of all the friends, neighbors and family who were praying for her and her husband. They came to her like falling stars, tiny bits of light splintering the great blackness of grief.

I’ve thought of Pam’s experience on the back porch many times since she described it to me. Any time that I’ve thought that my one prayer couldn’t make a difference, or been shy to ask for prayers in my behalf, I’ve pictured that celestial meteor shower of hope and love.

My friend Cheri recently introduced me to the concept of a personal prayer roll. As Cheri is acquainted with a concern or grief, she adds that person to a prayer roll that she keeps at her bedside. And each night, Cheri reads those names, praying for each person individually. When Cheri told me she had added me to her prayer roll last fall, I felt a rush of love and gratitude for her and an extra assurance that God was aware of my needs. I’ve since created my own list with the names of my children, the Young Women I serve and loved ones in need. I believe there is great power in speaking those names out loud. I know God hears my prayers.

In the past, I felt awkward about asking others to pray for me. Now I plea with my friends and visiting teachers to petition God in my behalf. Many, many days I have felt a lightening, an extra strength that I know was a result of prayers offered in my name.

Few actions make me feel more loved than when someone tells me they’ve placed my name on the prayer roll of the temple. I usually stand in front of that little white box, scribbling names and searching my mind for who I may have forgotten– and yes, I always pen my own name.

Last Wednesday, I said goodbye to my oldest son on the curb of the Provo MTC. “Take a good look at that cute face,” my friend advised, “because you’ll never see it again. When he comes back he’ll be changed.”

Ben was so giddy, so glad to leave that we were all perhaps, a little overconfident. But the MTC is hard, especially that first week. He wrote:

“I don’t mean to complain or make you worry but I think it helps to admit that things are hard. I never thought it would be this hard. One night I was having an especially lonely time. I prayed and told Heavenly Father I didn’t know if I could do this. I climbed into bed and as I lay there I saw you all praying for me– Mom, Dad, Stefan, Hans, Xander, Gabriel and silly little Mary followed with her own prayer. I felt so loved. I immediately felt better; I love you all so much.”

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And so, I’ll continue to offer, every night, every hour, a prayer for those I love.

How have you felt the power of prayer in your life?

How do you make your prayers more effective?

About Michelle Lehnardt

(Blog Team) I'm the kind of mom who drives through mud puddles, throws pumpkins off the roof and lets the kids move the ping-pong table into the kitchen for the summer. Despite (or probably, because of) my immaturity, my five sons and one daughter are happy, thriving, funny people. I'll climb a mountain with you, jump into a freezing lake hand-in-hand or just sit with you while you cry. I believe the gospel of Jesus Christ will heal the earth. Founder of buildyourteenager.com, scenesfromthewild.net and rubygirl.org.

47 thoughts on “Pray for me; heal my heart”

  1. Once I was in the hospital with what appeared to be some very serious problems. I was scared, and my family was very far away. Somehow, I felt the love and concern of many others, and I KNEW it was because they prayed for me.

    So, yes, I pray for certain people I know who are struggling or are in the military. I pray for the people in Japan. I pray for my own family, and I know it makes a difference.

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  2. I have had health challenges this year and have absolutely felt bouyed up by people's prayers. There is amazing strength in united faith. I looked forward to days when I knew people would be fasting for me because I knew those days would hold peace and relief.

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  3. just last week i had no idea where my handicapped 29 year old daughter was. she had been missing for almost two weeks. the very day she took off i read in the scriptures about the lost lamb, the lost coin, the lost son…and i knew…i knew i would sweep my house; every corner, under every rug until i found the coin. Well, as i searched and waited i was sustained by heaven and the many petitions offered in our behalf.

    she surfaced…desperate and in serious trouble, and i rejoiced. we are still in the thick of this trouble. i pray for "the mighty change of heart" for me and her.

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  4. Michelle, what a gorgeous post. That image of prayers "splintering the great blackness of grief" like falling stars—oh, that one will stay with me.

    I have felt sustained and lightened when others are praying for me, and I have felt my own heart fill with love as I've prayed for others. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers and tenderly watches over us, and that praying blesses us and those we pray for.

    Much love to you, and love to Ben. Yes, the MTC is hard and that first week is an adjustment. But what a blessing for him to know that all of you are praying for and supporting him. Add my name to the list of those praying for him.

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  5. Absolutely, incredibly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you for sharing that heavenly picture of your son and daughter.

    The last year has been a year of praying for me. It has been a year of finding God again and again in those quiet moments in the car, on a walk, by the sink, and in my chair. There are people under my care who struggle with some incredibly heavy doubts and cares, and God has filled me with a love for them that amazes me. Praying has opened up my heart and allowed the immense power of God's love to fill my heart for these people in a way that I didn't even dream possible.

    Blessings to you and yours…particularly your sweet missionary son.

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  6. I was blown away when Stephen Marsh told me he prayed for me. So I started praying for people. I have a small prayer list and add to it here or there. It makes you love them more.

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  7. absolutely beautiful.
    beautiful!
    struck a chord in my soul.

    i know nothing of that kind of pain or heartache, yet i can weep with friends who have…

    and pray. lovely imagery. thank you.

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  8. I've had a Prayer List taped to my headboard for years that I add names to. When my brother was suffering through cancer I felt love and strength to do things that I know came from many people around the world praying for him and our family.

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  9. I've been in the midst of a family crisis for the past month. Many people tend to pray more when they're in pain or trouble, but I tend to pray less. I'm just too numb, or exhausted, or discouraged to make the spiritual effort. When I confided this to a close friend of mine she offered to pray on my behalf. Not to pray her prayers for me, but to pray my prayers. She's been doing this for weeks now. It's one of the most beautiful and meaningful gifts of friendship I've ever received.

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  10. I have been in desperation and have asked for the prayers of friends and have had the image come to my mind of these friends encircling me in the arms of their love.

    The power of prayer is very real. Thanks so much for this beautiful post.

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  11. I've been thinking along these same lines for a while and this post is, well, I suppose this post is an answer to my prayer. A 'Celestial Meteor Shower' is a beautiful image. Thank you.

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  12. So beautiful. Could I have your permission to print and frame for a friend who just lost her son? Thank you for a wonderful gift.

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  13. Yes, of course, Kimberly. And I'm humbled that you'd want to.

    I love all your responses. Kathy, your friend's gift of prayer is truly beautiful. I think that is much of why we pray for each other– in the midst of trials our hearts sometimes hurt too much to even produce the words.

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  14. I've been struggling with joint pain lately and I'm still not sure what's going on…my entire ward has been so kind and charitable. They often offer prayers or kind words in my behalf.

    On Sunday an older gentleman walked up to me and asked how my ankle was doing. I told him it wasn't any better, and that the rest of my joints were starting to hurt. He asked me if I was aware that the high priests group had fasted for me a few months before…I was filled with peace. Then he reminded me that no prayer or fast goes unanswered. This last week, whenever I've been hurting, I remember Brother Lee's faith and I am lifted.

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  15. Beautiful poignant post, Michelle. I once spent months in the hospital with a little one who was trying to come way too early. A girlfriend of mine told me her aunt had a friend from high school who had a bible study group who prayed for me and my baby regularly. I never knew or ever met these women of a different faith who interceded on my behalf, but am forever humbled by it. And it made me very aware of the power of prayer!

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  16. Absolutely beautiful post, and a great reminder for us all. I could definitely use more people praying for me, and my loved ones certainly need my petitions on their behalf.

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  17. Prayer sustained me when we worried about our almost one year old before he arrived. There was a web of spiritual support surrounding this baby. I keep meeting people who prayed for him and us. What a wonderful spiritual community of various religious backgrounds he had before he even took his first breath! Now, with every milestone he hits, I recognize the miracle of his life and acknowledge the power of prayer.
    I love the idea of a personal prayer roll.

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  18. Michelle, I put your name on the prayer roll every time I go to the temple. And I have put sweet Ben's name on there a couple of times too. I love the idea of putting our faith together to bless those we love, each one of us contributing in a small way to the healing our Father brings. Thank heavens for the Gospel!

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  19. I've been thinking about keeping a prayer roll lately, and I think this is a nudge to quit thinking about it and start doing it. I know absolutely that prayer has a physical power to it. I have been lifted by others' prayers in many of my worst of times, and I hope that my prayers have help lift others in theirs.

    Love to you and Ben. Your family has been in my prayers since last Wed.

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  20. I have been struggling with some health issues recently and I know people have been praying for me. I can feel it bouying me up when I'm not as strong as I would like to be.

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  21. I believe in the efficacy of prayer. I've had and have power experiences with prayer. Prayer is a part of my life, it is part of my earliest memories.

    Kathy, I thought I was the only one that had that experience. Prayer comes easily for me when things are moving smoothly and even in moments of crisis, but periods of prolonged trial I feel that my daily prayers become rote, worn, exhausted and spotty. Your friend and your prayers, what a sacred gift.

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  22. You took the words right out of my mouth, or I guess I mean, you took the feelings right out of my heart.

    My daughter entered the MTC three weeks ago. I had absolutely NO idea it was this hard. She was beyond ready to go, and I thought I was ready to have her go, but Holy Cow! That drop off at the MTC is brutal. Especially when your child just walks away and doesn't even look back! She has shared her struggles and joys with us. I think she is finally starting to feel okay now. She is learning a language (which terrified her) and feels alright about things now. I am so happy with her choice to go on a mission, but I have to admit that along with prayers for her, I am praying for me to be strong and supportive. I know angels are about us.

    The power of prayer is awesome. I forget that sometimes and need to be reminded. Thank you. Love to you and yours. Love your blog, it's beautiful!

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  23. I admit, I never mind it and actually really appreciate it when I'm asked to pray for someone. Because truthfully, we just don't know how to help heal another's pain in most instances. But there is One who does know how to heal pain — any pain. And so it is only fitting that we should engage with our loved ones in petitioning for His help. I love the the hymn "Lord I Would Follow Thee": "In the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can't see." How true…

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  24. So, so beautiful, Michelle.

    I, too, will never forget this image:

    "They came to her like falling stars, tiny bits of light splintering the great blackness of grief."

    I believe in prayer. With all my heart.

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  25. In the moments that I'm helped by the prayers of others I'd love it if I could get a notification – spiritual tweet. People tell me that they are praying for me, but it's difficult to recognize it.

    I get overwhelmed during difficult times and let my prayers slip as well. Other's difficulties are overwhelming too, I can't keep track of everyone I love who needs help, help that doesn't seem to come even when I pray for it.

    When my Aunt had a serious hospital stay she told me how powerfully she felt the power of prayers in her behalf. She now asks for people to pray for her with a certainty that I lack.

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  26. Ah, Sharlee, I almost wrote about you in this post. One of my favorite "praying for others" tips was when you told me you took home the little slips from the temple and wrote the names down at home so that you wouldn't forget anyone.

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  27. I admit I struggle with the idea of prayers. Doesn't the Lord always do what's best for us? So what difference do extra prayers make? If I don't have anyone pray for me does that mean my life will be worse or trials will be harder? Sort of like the Lord saying, "I wish I could help Jennie but she just doesn't have enough people praying for her." I still haven't figured this one out for myself yet.

    Even so, when I know someone is having a hard time I do pray for them because it's hard feeling helpless and that's one thing I can do.

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  28. Oh Michelle your poignant writing on prayer is so beautiful and so true. A close friend of mine was working in the temple on the afternoon my gorgeous 15 year old daughter passed away. She would later tell me that they could hardly keep up with the calls and requests coming in to the temple to add our names to the prayer roll. Amazing to me at the time that so many would think of prayer as something my family needed at that moment. For so many people, it was the only thing they could do to help us. We felt every single one of those prayers being offered on our behalf. They lifted our desperate broken hearts, we could not have survived those first few days without those sweet prayers.

    I pray often and fervently for those around me now…including you and your cute Ben!

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  29. "They came to her like falling stars, tiny bits of light splintering the great blackness of grief." A perfectly beautiful and true description. This was most moving Michelle. I pray for you often. And Kathy – what a treasured friend you have. I'm still praying for you also.

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  30. I remember the strength I felt in the hospital as we waited to see if our daughter would have problems, due to problems that arose during the delivery.

    I also have appreciated so much the people through the years of my health struggles who have said they pray for me/put my name on the temple roll. My prayers go out to you who say you are so struggling. It's hard.

    Michelle, if it helps, please tell your son I was blown away by how hard the MTC and missionary work were. But that's part of what will make it such an amazing experience. You're all in my thoughts and prayers.

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  31. p.s. Jennie, I've wondered that, too, and one thing I have thought is that the process does something for *us* — to unite in prayer can change us and bring us together as a community, and individually turn us away from our own pain to serving others in this way.

    I can't wrap my head around how things might work on God's side of things, though. The Bible Dictionary talks about blessings conditional upon the asking. Maybe some of that is also about learning to know what to pray for in the first place? But it can be hard, for example, when pain is private and there is no way to summon the help of many people. It's hard for me to imagine God withholding blessings in such a situation.

    But I can't help but think that in general we might benefit from knitting our hearts together more by mourning together — which requires asking for love and support. To me, that is part of what a Zion-like community should include…and I'm not sure we always let each other in enough.

    I'm always so grateful when I know what I can pray for for others.

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  32. Wow Michelle. That was perfectly perfect for what I needed today. What a great gift we have to use the powers of heaven. I loved this.

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  33. So lovely, Michelle. Thank you.

    I love the personal prayer list.

    My 4-yr. old leaned over to me after the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting today and said, "They must listen to the news too since they prayed for the people of Japan." I was amazed she was listening and understood. I have thought it was sweet that she echoed us in praying for Japan, but know now they were heart-felt words from just a little girl. Surely the Lord hears those prayers!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful family. Blessings to Ben & you during his mission.

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  34. Praying is not one of my strengths, but this post gives me a good place to start. I like the idea of a personal prayer roll. I think I will try that. Thanks.

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  35. Thank you for sharing such a difficult time of your life.You helped uplift me today.You reminded me of a time many years ago in my life when I had just found out that my husband had done horrible things to my three small children.In despair I knelt down by my chair and pleaded for help to find the strength to go on.I was just so overwhelmed with grief and despair.Did anybody even care?I had no family to turn to and was feeling quite alone. I began to sob as the holy spirt enveloped me with a wonderful warm feeling and I felt so strongly that not only were people in my ward praying for me but there were others on the other side of the veil who were praying for me too.The impression was so clear. I had family members on the other side who cared for me as much as those here, and I was loved.I felt their presence very clearly. Oh how I needed that reassurance at that time.It was so beautiful. This is one of my most cherished spiritual memories. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father that he helps us receive the comfort we need, sometimes in ways that are unexpected.

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  36. Love this post. My sister had a terrible injury and surprise c-section last fall, and it made me appreciate living in our small town. She and I could both really feel the faith of the many prayers offered for her.

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  37. Jennie, I do think other people's choices have real consequences. I think it's essential to agency being real, instead of an elaborate game.

    God allows people, through their agency, to cause terrible pain to others. Why wouldn't He allow real consequences for me NOT praying for someone?

    I also believe there is great power in asking. I believe the laws of the universe in some sense require asking.

    But it gets complicated when someone has no one to pray for them. The angel says he came to Alma the Younger because of his father's prayers. What about about all the people whose fathers don't even know about prayer?

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  38. Michelle L., thanks for the prayer roll reminder. I needed it. And that beautiful meteor shower image will stay with me always.

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