• Power of prayer topic at chapel luncheon

  • In April 1944, a young cadet began experiencing pounding headaches. After reporting to a hospital and undergoing a number of tests, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and was immediately admitted to the hospital.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    In April 1944, a young cadet began experiencing pounding headaches. After reporting to a hospital and undergoing a number of tests, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis and was immediately admitted to the hospital.
    The cadet later woke to find a Catholic priest by his bedside ready to give him last rites.
    “Father, I’m not ready to die,” the cadet said. “Would you please go away?”
    The priest respected his wish and left, but not before saying a prayer.
    Over the next two to three weeks, the cadet had two spinal taps a day to relieve pressure from his brain before a new protocol was introduced — penicillin. Every three hours, the cadet received shots of penicillin in his hip. After 113 of these shots, his condition improved and the doctors considered him to be out of danger; however, he still experienced the headaches.
    On June 6, 1944, he was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where they determined the continual headaches to be residual effects from the meningitis. He was released within a few weeks.
    In July 1944, he met with a board to decide whether he was fit for service. The board determined he was and he returned to West Point in July 1944 and graduated with his class in 1945.
    Retired Army Chaplain (Col.) Scott McChrystal told this story to open his remarks at the 2019 National Prayer Luncheon May 2 at Frontier Chapel.
    “I’m very glad that (the priest’s) prayer worked. I’m glad this kid made it because upon commissioning he was now a second lieutenant assigned as part of the occupation Army over in Germany,” McChrystal said. “After a few months, he married a lady named Mary Gardner Bright, who happens to be my mom. My dad went on to live until he was 89 years old.”
    McChrystal used his father’s story to demonstrate that God hears and answers prayers, which prompted him to pose a question.
    “If he does hear and answer prayer, why don’t we pray more?” McChrystal asked.
    McChrystal offered several excuses one might have for not praying more, which he refuted with various scripture passages, including Isaiah 40:28, 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6-7 and Isaiah 1:18.
    “I’ve done my homework,” McChrystal said. “If God hears and answers prayer, why don’t we pray more?
    “There are many people — and some of us right here — who are hurting. You’re hurting from something in the past. You’re wounded,” he said. “You’re bitter over the outcome, over the unfairness. You’re asking questions. ‘God, why did you let this happen?’ In essence, we’re trying to pin the Lord into a corner, but sometimes God doesn’t answer prayer the way we want.”
    Page 2 of 2 - To demonstrate, McChrystal told another story.
    On Jan. 3, 1971, McChrystal was a new second lieutenant on his way to his first duty station at Fort Bragg, N.C. He stopped into a hotel for the night and used a pay phone to call his family. When his dad answered the phone, McChrystal said he knew something was wrong.
    “Choking back tears and sobs, he said ‘Scott, it looks like your mom’s dying,’” McChrystal said. “‘I think you need to get home very quickly.’”
    The next morning, McChrystal said he met with the chief of staff of the division at Fort Bragg and was given permission to go back home. Upon reaching Fredericksburg, Texas, he called home again only to find out that his mother had passed from what they later found to be a rare blood disease.
    “I’m not going to tell you that God doesn’t answer prayer. I’m not going to tell you about how that was a real blow to our family. I’m not going to dwell on the fact that (my dad) became depressed. I’m not going to talk about the fact that he tried to take his own life and fortunately did not succeed,” McChrystal said. “I’m going to talk about the fact that God’s intervention, God’s grace, God’s patience, God’s long suffering, God’s provision allowed me to meet a lady and introduce her to my dad. A few years later, they got married and were happily married for 28 years before he went to be with the Lord.
    “God answers prayer,” he said. “As we consider the challenges that face our world, face our nation, we need prayer.”
    McChrystal said prayer is a powerful way to know God more.
    “The commander of this universe wants to hear from you and me. He wants to know what’s going on, and he wants us to hear from him,” McChrystal said. “It is not even so much a discipline. It is about a relationship that is so positive, so attractive, so magnetic that we get to know him and his personhood.
    “Much happens when we pray. God hears and God answers. He heals, he comforts, he provides, he guides. He changes situations and sometimes he’ll move mountains,” he said. “He helps us, he teaches us and he helps us to fulfill our destiny. We all have a destiny. We all have a legacy. He impacts our world through us. Prayer is a very good thing. May I encourage you and me to do it more.”
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