This morning as I was writing an article for Turning Points and working on a sermon, I found an old book entitled “Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer” by S. B. Shaw, printed in 1893. Rev. Shaw collected a great number of truly remarkable stories, including this one:
Many years ago, James Rogers of the Alabama Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church told the story of Annie Clayton of San Jose, California. As a child, she and her sister Vanie took a long walk one Saturday morning to collect some scraps of wood as fuel for heating their family’s home. As they returned, Vanie collapsed from the lingering effects of cholera and was unable to proceed.
Annie, who was only five years old, was helpless and they sat beside the road not knowing what to do. Finally Vanie said, “You know, Annie, that a good while ago mother told us that if we ever got into trouble, we should pray, and God would help us. Now you help me get down upon my knees, and hold me up, and we will pray.” So there on the sidewalk, the two sisters prayed earnestly for someone to come along to help them. Then they resumed sitting on the curb waiting to see how God would answer their prayers.
Far down the street, they spotted a man who walked out of a factory and looked curiously up the street, and the girls thought perhaps he was the one God would send. But the man went back into the factory. Presently he came out again, looked up the street again, and reentered the factory. Then man walked out of the factory a third time, wear his hat and walking toward them.
Approaching the children, the man said in a broken German accent, “O children, what is the matter?” When they explained the situation to him, the German hoisted Vanie up in his brawny arms and carried her all the way home.
Once the girls were safely delivered, the gentleman told his story. He was the proprietor of an ink factory, and he had been working hard on payroll checks for his men. Suddenly as he was pouring over his books his eyes had clouded up and his vision had blurred. He had a plain impression that someone on the street wanted to see him, so he stepped outside and tried to focus his eyes up and down the street. Seeing no one, he returned to his desk and tried to work.
The darkness in his vision was even worse, and the impression was even greater. So he walked outside again, puzzled. Then he returned to his work again, but his fingers would not grasp the pen. He found himself unable to write a word; moreover the impression on his mind was urgent. So he fetched his hat and walked up the street in bewilderment until he saw the girls who had prayed earnestly for someone to come along and help them.
PS – We need more stories of remarkable answers to prayer. If you have one from your own life, I’d love to hear it. For information about Shaw’s book, Touching Incidents and Remarkable Answers to Prayer, click here. For my sermon, Praying Up a Storm, click here.